Hawaii II: Aloha, and Aloha

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When we last left our heroes they were standing on the sand, arm in arm before a glorious sunset.
This will be the last out of towner for the year, a year that’s been filled with strange and wondrous jaunts.

Later in the evening, yes, at wacky tacky Benihanas, we make toast upon toast to these travels:

The long weekends spent in the Arizona ghettos or amidst the siren call of the Clark street bars, Chicago
Huddled around the Hard Rock blackjack table with the Shattered Faith crew post-gig, willing each other to blow their nightly pay on sketchy double down bets.

Was it really just days ago we stood on a rainy Portland street corner eating pork belly, the new coin of the realm, upon toasted pupusa?

Another round of blue drinks is crowded upon the Teppan cooktop , jostling for room against towers of giant Sapporo and steaming flasks of sake.

When a man might live forever….

Note to editor: Drummer was crawling around on carpet looking for dropped shrimp.
Note to editor: Drummer was crawling around on carpet looking for dropped shrimp.

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Saturday

Like X-Men, we have developed unique superpowers at this stage of our lives.
Unfortunately, that gift is the ability to rouse from deep slumber and pee twice a night.

I roll off the squeaky twin and stumble for the bathroom, locked of course.
Alf is already up, shaving god knows what part of his body.

It’s a clenched elevator ride down to the lobby bathroom and if the front desk are shocked by my houndstooth pj bottoms and Cheap Trick Tshirt, they don’t respond beyond a smile and offer of a bottled water.

Back at the room the fellas are rousing, each of us sitting up in our wee beds set in a row.

It looks like nothing so much as a set up for a Three Stooges routine, and the last dim memory of the night before was the roaring syncopated symphony of snore burp and
fart.
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But it’s just a few steps down the hall to the crysatlline pool, and we dunk our throbbing heads beneath waterfall and feel grand in no time!

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Text are sent back and forth, chirping cell phones are hushed with a swipe of thumb and we are all set.
The kind promoter checks in to see if we are settled, can send a van over early if we wish to soundcheck.
Soundcheck? What is this strange thing you speak of?

We briefly weigh the sparkling ocean just a block away against spending a precious hour listening to Alf hitting a snare drum in an empty club.

Let’s hit the beach, shall we?

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Lunch and then a quick tour of the indoor bars suggested by the locals.
We are pleased to see advertisements for the gig scattered here and there, and if we are embarrassed by the term Legends printed there in our reference, we only have to remind ourselves that Bigfoot remains a legend as well.

And like him, we are hairy mythical beasts that survive on stolen laundry and spam musubi.
Carry on!

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spam-musubi

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Heh.  Now will you people believe us when we tell you we're legends? huh?
Heh. Now will you people believe us when we tell you we’re legends? huh?

After a refreshing nap back in our orphanage, we hit the nighttime streets of Honolulu and make our way to Anna O’Briens.

It turns out to be a proper night club, with a stage and electric lights and everything!

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I don’t know what we expecting, maybe a palm thatched stage lit by torch.
Where do we get these goddamned ideas?

Look Skipper, a Rickenbacker!
Look Skipper, a Rickenbacker!

Another treat added to a weekend filled with them, we have a grip of old friends here to meet us.
Some have moved here, some just happen to be visiting at the time, and it is a blast to catch up so far away from our grubby roots.

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And then we get up there and do the thing we came to do.
I mean, besides eating drinking and wallowing about the sand, silly!

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The Make me Feel Cheap gals, Hawaii!
The Make me Feel Cheap gals, Hawaii!

And then like every other gig, it is over all too soon.

We don’t want it to end, not any of it.
Not the night, or the weekend or this fucking year.

We have time to chat up a few more friends before the houselights are flashed on, and though the rude jolt of reality is always illuminated by those harsh last-call floods, we simply remind ourselves:
we just played a set in goddamn Hawaii!

And we smile.

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A late ride back to hotel, and maybe time for one more MocoLoco and one last view from the balcony:
A glowing moon, its yellow paint bled onto calm seas.

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It’s not 8 hours later we are back through the Security checkpoint, a hundred dropped at airport bar and sealed back in the aluminum tube that hurtles toward home.

The plane clears the island below and banks East, wings dipping low enough for us to get a last glimpse of that blue Pacific.

An ocean shared, yet, home, translated to a far less melodic language.

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Hawaii I : From Here to Eternity

burt lancaster & deborah kerr - from here to eternity 1953

Honolulu
What comes to mind?

The swaying palms over white sandy beaches, the smiling locals who greet you at the lobby with perfumed Orchid leis in hand?
Drinking playful rum drinks to the sound of slack key guitars, majestic Diamond Head looming in the distance?

Maybe a romantic romp in the sand, the imagery in your mind always comes back in gorgeous black and white, and you imagine rolling among the warm waves holding a young Deborah Kerr.

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Touchdown, Honolulu
Touchdown, Honolulu

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The Honolulu that greets us Friday off the 7am flight from LAX (this only after the 160 dollar stay at the airport bar ahem), is a brighter noisier place.
It is a proper metropolis after all, not the collection of Gilligan styled huts and coconut husk condoms that we all wished it would still be.

From the airport we only see glimpses of the blue Pacific between warehouses and shopping malls.
But soon we are dropping our bags off and putting on shorts and ridiculous shoes.
We are, we tell ourselves, on island time.

Here for one show only, Saturday night, so we have the whole goddamned day to make fools of ourselves among the sand and surf.

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We’re out now, traipsing down the strand, past the fifteen dollar Ramen joints and ABC Stores, hang a right through the swanky lobby of the Sheraton and then we are there.

Sandals are cast aside as we dig our dogs into the warm sand.
The ocean lay before us, glorious green-blue, deep as any carpet of a Vegas high roller suite.

And that warm breeze, it envelopes you like a hug from a parent gone, delicious.

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The hotels loom large above the Waikiki strand, staring down at at our touristy hijinks like disapproving mamas.
We can almost hear their sighs and detect shakes of their stony heads as we roll in the sand, the dogs that we are.

It is such a short trip, we try to cram the Hawaii experience into those few hours, those few meters along the shore.

We gorge ourselves on gravy flooded Moco Loco and fatty cheeseburgers, sip at drinks we can barely prounounce.

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I soon catch myself drinking a potent MaiTai out of a Buddha-shaped souvenir glass, and though I am instantly shamed I cannot help myself from sipping Curaçao tinted Rum from a straw stuck in the smiling prophet’s belly!

How about next round we have the Jesus Christ with the crucifix crazy straw eh?
How about next round we have the Jesus Christ with the crucifix crazy straw eh?

We stop at every barefoot bar we come across, sneaking into guests-only pools and peeing in the warm blue ocean. Or did I get that backwards?

Because things get messy at this point.
Alf and Ant start to wrestle on the lawn, bartenders run out after us, waving tabs we’d honestly forgotten to pay.

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We take selfish selfies to send back to the working crowd back home, and notice again it is not Monty Clift we resemble so much as sweaty slobbering Ernest Borgnines in these unlying portraits.

Anthony and Alf, just  another lovers quarrel
Anthony and Alf, just another lovers quarrel

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Have we discovered the true nature of the beast?

The leis about our necks smell not of fragrant Hibiscus, but the common formaldahyde used in Chinese plastics factories.
And it is Van Halen (Hagar era for chrissake!) that blares out at us from the barefoot bars, not the soothing tone of steel string or Prewitt’s mournful bugle.

And that romp is the sand?
Is it Warden and Captain Holmes’ wife all over again?

More like this, brother!

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But is soon a merciful sunset, so glorious that we all stop and applaud.

We marvel at the time, a rare treat to gain some hours in our travels.
Alfie and Ant are all bro hugs now, so we contemplate the ultimate tourist treat, dinner at Benihanas!

Surrendered, completely, to the charms of this place.
We only have to turn our backs to the light and noise that pulse from corporate chain hotels and consider the last of that glorious sunset.

It takes only a final sparkle from that jewel of ocean before we allow the cliche to ourselves: paradise.

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The Airport Bar:

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“Musicians, eh?” says the lady pushed into my elbow.
She nods at the stack of guitar cases propped against the bar wall. A collection of backpacks is piled into a pyramid nearby as if recently dropped from a Red Cross mercy mission, their meshed outer pockets betraying the scuffed headphones and tangled phone chargers of a band on the road.

“Yes ma’am,” I say, without making eye contact. I scan the crowded joint, trying to get the waiter’s attention.
It is 7am, Gladstones bar in terminal 3, LAX. I calculate enough time for one more large Sam Adams, (Maker’s sidecar, only 3 bucks more!), and still have enough time to attempt a fortunate bowel movement before boarding.

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“Oh, I can tell, you guys.” She takes another slug off her martini, 3 olives and dirty. (Make it Bombay Sapphire, only 4 more dollars!)
She’s had 3 since we’ve been here, and is now shaking an empty glass toward our bartender: international distress call of the thirsty.
She smiles to herself, and I know a confession is coming.

“I’ve had my wild days too, let me tell you.” but here she rolls her eyes as if to dismiss any chance of embellishment.
She looks to be in her 50’s like us, but wearing the sensible footwear and layered clothing of the experienced business traveler.

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We’re all packed in there, the airport bar, members of different tribes thrown together out of primal necessity.
Let’s get a few drinks in us after enduring the TSA rape, before another tedious flight.

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The business lady sits to my left so close I can feel a Blackberry vibrate from the purse in her lap.
To Alf’s starboard side a rotund insurance rep from Farmers is explaining Term life over shots of Fireball.
I look across the bar where Ant and Kimm are comforting a frail gray lady, on her way to Des Moines for her son’s funeral.
She sips at her sherry and sighs yet again: Him and that goddamn motorcycle!

But that’s how it is at the airport bar.

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Where else can you come at 6 am and find the room packed with drinkers, thirsty as the Friday night crowd on 4th street?
Strangers all, drawn to the oasis within the wilds of the airport, carry-on bags at their feet, laptops opened on sticky bar tops, asking strangers across the bar if they happen to know the WiFi code?

Where else would you come at this gray hour for a 22oz Pacifico, (Why not add a shooter of Patron? $5 !) and gladly pay the 14 bucks for the privilege.

Where else will you catch us in a goddamn TGIF, and happy about it?

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For airports have become not the sleek hubs of yesteryear, where you would relax in anticipation of a classy adventure.
No, they have become frightening places.
People roam the halls with a look of terror in their eyes, many shoeless and half dressed after the Security checkpoint trauma.
They clutch at their waistbands, lest their beltless trousers fall to the floor, completing their shame.

Tigin. John F. Kennedy Airport.  Terminal 4. SSP.

But there is one place, brother, that the wounded can come in to lick their wounds, not to mention the salt rimmed glasses of 18 dollar bloodys (3 bucks extra, make it with premium vodka!)

We’ve been to a lot of these airport bars, the swanky champers and oyster bars of Heathrow, where the lemon wedge comes in its own fishnet stocking.
The zinc covered bar at Brussels International, where they still chop the head off of the foamy lagers with a wooden spatula.

The Redding airport houses its own charming Chinese restaurant and lounge up the rickety staircase.
There, you can put in an advance order for drinks and greasy appetizers to be waiting for you when you return for the flight home in 3 days time.
Mr. Chow: No problem, you guys crazy!
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Oh, we’ve scanned the internet for these flights, months before.
Sacrificing an extra hour of sleep or enduring a stopover in goddamned Atlanta for a fare just 35 dollars cheaper.

And yet here we are, playing that sucker bet of bars.
We’ll have the breakfast Nachos, double the size of the beers and of course take the side shot, who wouldn’t?

And when we get the bill, for now the plane requests our presence by name for final boarding, we don’t bat an eyelash at the bill, a neat 225 with tip!

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And for all their unique charms, it is the same travelers in each one:

Honeymooners, as drunk on romance as the prospect of 2 weeks off of work before returning to a life of ever-decreasing returns.

The rumpled outside sale rep, ordering another round of premium doubles and a to-go order of buffalo wings, old Hooper in the travel expense department be damned–I earned this!

You have the 6am drunks, thrilled to be out in public and sharing respectable space with other humans. They’d be downing vodka at this hour anyway, but usually in the solitary guilt of their bathrooms, so this is a fuckin party!

Here’s the rare bird, the guy who stops at the airport bar on the way home, just willing the journey to last a few minutes more over a ten dollar shot of Southern Comfort. (make it a double, 5 dollars, why not?)
He savors the delicious taste of solitude a few moments more, just one more drink before returning to a house filled with whining teenagers.

And then the truly terrified flyers, usually not regular drinkers here, that wash Jager shots down with Jameson buckets, praying for God to rob them of consciousness before the jet engines start their terrifying roar toward inevitable disaster.

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And it is here humanity is together, at last, at peace.
Like Lions and zebras lounging about the same watering hole in Zambia, each too sated with water-filled bellies to think of attack or flight.

We’re gathered to lap up the local waters and good-naturedly endure the soliloquies of fellow traveler.

And it isn’t long into martini number 4 when business lady leans in even closer and confesses to once “being” with Stephen Pearcy from Ratt one scandalous night.

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head slowly at the memory of a night at the Forum Club, 3 decades ago, when the world and its promise still lay before her, unspoiled.

And she will not go into further details, thank you.

She raises empty glass to the skies once again, the skies we will soon be hurtling through, each of us going in an opposite direction.

Photoblog: The Oregon Trail

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Oregon, you’re always a welcome change.
It’s up there, wedged between 2 pretentious states, like the drunken but hilarious brother-in-law between your asshole Uncles at the Thanksgiving table.

Where the strip clubs serve a nutritious breakfast and the gas is pumped for you by smiling fools.
Outrageous color bursts from the Fall foliage, and it’s like a vital lesson to our sun-blasted cones and rods.

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It’s a quick flight up the burnt out backbone of California, where we recently celebrated 300 consecutive days of no rain–Yay team!

We touch down in Medford, and look up at the strange moisture falling from the sky.
God, is that you, weeping over our blasphemous insistence on Gay Marriage and legalized weed?
Our transplanted homeboy Chris assures us that is all perfectly normal, this water from the sky business, and we’re soon on our way back to Johnny B’s.

We’d heard ‘ol Johnny transferred the joint over to the old Woolworth’s building, and we were excited at the prosepect of playing behind the lunch counter or perhaps in the women’s hoisery aisle.
No such luck as it is a proper nightclub, but the place looks swell and we’re soon catching up with old chums.

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The Soothesayers get the night going and then local rockers The Hollowbodys storm the stage.
And as we get on stage, a van pulls up and the English Dogs drop in, passing through town on a night off!

And then the night dissolves into the usual hijinks:

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We toast the Fall weather and then go out and gulp at the exotic damp air, the smell of burning wood swimming in the breeze.
The rain doesn’t faze us in the least, not anymore.

We hold arms up to it, wanting only to be cleansed of our sins, baptized against future harm.
That doesn’t see like too much a stretch on a night like this.

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Friday comes to us, and we wake up amazed to be not tangled in filthy motel sheets.

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A rare treat to spend the night with an old friend.
We get to sip coffee and contemplate the green hills, unwind in the spacious and well lit man cave garage, all the while making snide remarks on social media to the suckers back home.

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All too soon, it’s back up the 5, for tonight’s show is way up yonder in Portland.
We reward ourselves for the early start with a lunch and stroll around Roseburg and make it into Portland just as the sun sets on that funky town.

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It all comes back to us now: Portland.
It’s as if Disney Imagineers took all our favorite things from all our favorite cities, and placed them all in one delicious town.
The food and booze, the good friends and beautiful buildings.

We don’t kid ourselves, as surely they turn out the lights when we leave and break down the sets, and those green mountains in the distance are undoubtedly made of fiberglass.
But call us suckers for a romp, we hit the rain polished sidewalks with glee and visit all the old haunts!

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It’s our first time playing the Ash Street Saloon, which we find right in the goddamned middle of it all, right by Voodoo Doughnuts and that Keep Portland Weird sign that all the locals are surely sick of by now.

I’m surprised Fred Arminsen doesn’t wander in, it is soooo Portland, ya hear me?

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Great to see Whiskey Dickers and then catch up with our old pals in Clackamass Baby Killers, and then we do the thing we came to do:

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It’s been a long day and we are tired.
Our luxurious Motel 6 glows like a beacon just on the other side of the Willamette River, the promise of sleep a wish made upon fallen star.
But no.
The locals insist on just one more drink, one more fatty snack served out of ubiquitous food truck.
They drag us along, shush our protests with promises of home made whiskeys and bacon.

Oh alright, twist our arms, we’ll come along!
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Saturday finds us in Eugene Oregon.
A new town for us, something we old fucks didn’t know existed.
Haven’t we been everywhere already??

Eugene

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Our old pal Hippy Tim (or was that Tim the Hippy?) graciously picks us up in the
Tim-o-Sine and gives us a quick tour of this college town before tucking us into dinner at La Perla.
We stuff ourselves with fine pizzas and wash it down with jaunty blended reds, and now a nap would be good.

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Heh, not a chance. It is Saturday night in America after all, so we rouse ourselves with a van backseat makeover, down hideous energy drinks and hit Luckey’s for round 3.

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Not a Part of It are rocking the stage as we enter the joint and the sound and light in the club energizes us.
Tim’s band The Soothesayers are playing with us once again, so it feels all warm and fuzzy up in this bitch!
Smiling faces all around, new friends and old.

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We get up, get down, get off and wrap up another night.

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It’s back to Medford on a drizzly Sunday, and we while the day away as the flight is delayed again and again.
With each chime of the cell, another apologetic text from the wonky airline, we crack open another last beer.

We take this time, then, to breathe in these cool winds a few more times.
We relax in front of a real wood fire and play fetch with a slobbering black lab among dewy grass and ochre fallen leaf.

Because we know what waits for us.
And sure enough in a few brief hours we stand upon LAX curb, 9pm, waiting for a parking lot shuttle in 88 degree heat.
The diesel exhaust perfumes an atmosphere filled with anxious light and noise, we are surrounded by people who do not wish to be where they are at the moment.

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But for now, sitting in another state, in another state, we only smile when the phone chirps yet again.
We let our open beer cans sit on the deck railing and let the raindrops enter and dilute, not minding the thought of bringing some of this holy water home with us.

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