An 8am boarding call means a 4:30am wake-up call, when yer talking LAX!
Oh sure, we usually take to the skies from our beloved Long Beach airport, where the leisurely small town atmosphere allows you to saunter in just minutes before your flight.
We sometimes arrive in pajama bottoms 12 minutes before doors close and get waved through TSA precheck with just a chiding nod: Barney letting Otis come in to lock himself up after a night of hanging around some white trash moonshine still.
But we all fall victim to our sensible greed when choosing those Expedia flights months before.
Why, here’s Spirit Airlines going to Chicago, same time as Jet Blue, and at half the cost!
It’s not until the morning of flight, whilst you are stuck in the middle of a cattle call in front of Marriott’s 40 dollah a day parking that the regrets begin. That budget airline is now asking for 50 bucks per carry on and 4 dollars for a cup of water. You curse your former self for not shelling out for the Even More Room seats on Jet Blue-blah.
Hah–luckily it’s no big deal, these early mornings, as we’ve become infected with that Old Man superpower of getting up way too early every day.
Left to our own, it’s bedtime 9:45 on the Laz boy Recliner as Stranger Things scrolls through a whole season while we snore away , oblivious. But we’re up and clattering around the kitchen at 6am, whistling show tunes to the delight of every hungover teenager trying to sleep upstairs.
Mmmm! Revenge, is this what it tastes like?
We hit Chicago in plenty of time to enjoy the late Summer weather, but the town is packed.
The ol CH3 luck of booking a show in direct competition to another show across town holds true. Tonight we are the spiky little Liar’s Club, while across town there is some sort of little gathering called Riot Fest? Hmm, shall have to google that one!
But it turns out a fine night indeed, a packed room of the true knuckleheads of Chicago and beyond.
Our pals in Airstream Futures kick it off with their guitar driven fury. Really excellent stuff, and when their new album is finally released sometime in the next decade you should check it out-hah!
And then it;’s our Midwestern bro homies, Destroy Everything take to the stage and do that thing: bratty punk vocals over tasteful guitars, a Midwestern sound as familiar as Mom vacuuming outside your doorway as you try to masturbate with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
These turn and burns are somehow even more exhausting than proper tours, the constant movement in so little time.
It seems we were just jolted awake by some digital peep minutes ago on the infancy of a new day, a few thousand miles away. Hours are lost in mid-flight, we play and have precious time to catch up with friends and then it is suddenly 4 am.
We’re now out on the sidewalk alone, and the sudden lack of movement threatens to topple us over as if the sheer momentum of the planet’s rotation has finally caught up. A sensible late night snack at Shwarma Inn and to bed by 5am.
Out on the road at noon, and we set our inner autopilots North toward our beloved temple of the Moo Cow, the Mars Cheese Castle!
Nicky has not been yet, and we regale him with tales of golden blocks of Cheddar, creamy Bries and nutty Comte’ blends. Of the communal vat of pub cheese that sits atop the bar, into which Anthony threatens to insert his face and not come out until lactose sated.
But as we pull up to the glorious gates, we are met with disastrous news:
Anthony jumps out and begins licking the block walls of the castle, though I keep telling him they are simply asbestos laced cinder block. He is beside himself, so we mosey over to then neighboring cheese shack and let him gobble up 3 pounds worth of cheese and sausage samples.
Disaster averted, it’s a short jaunt up the 94 to Milwaukee and the Harley Museum.
Oh, you know our feeling toward the American brand, its embodiment of Kid Rock in clunky V twin form, but haven’t we always held a soft spot for those goofy AMF years and the wacky Italian 2 strokes they used to shill under the HD brand?
Why, what I’d do to have that Rapido back in the garage!
Besides, they do serve a decent burnt tips app in the cafe, so we call it lunch break before taking the museum tour.
The swanky Hampton Inn, Green Bay boasts Serta brand foam top mattresses, decent sheets within the acceptable 800 count range, and hypoallergenic pillows (available by request).
Do you see people?
These are the things that matter to us now, keep your goddamned minibars and local hallucinogens–we need naps!
But it’s not 12 minutes into REM when we hear the racket from the street–
Tonight only, from Hollywood California, supporting Chicago’s own Destroy Everything…
Ah jesus, now what?
And there on the streets of lovely Green Bay, those goddamn Destroy Everything kids have commandeered the very aural airspace to hype the show with their Blues Brother Speaker set on the patrol car.
Sleep is now impossible.
I peer down at the streets, see whole clumps of conventioneers holding palms to their ears, shielding their children’s eyes to the sight.
It sounds like an Ice Cream man reading his suicide note aloud over a continuous loop of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Ah well, time to hit the night anyway.
We make our way over to The Lyric Room on Green Bay’s revitalized Broadway district.
It’s a proper lounge with a music hall attached, and the vibe is very up indeed for this Saturday night.
We’re not sure why, but we have somehow earned a little pocket of goodwill way up yonder in this tight Wisconsin community. We’re told that these hearty Midwesterners even forgive us for the outlandish hair and costume jewelry of the Enigma Records era.
Hell, they even seem to enjoy those songs!
And so when Kevin Neal came into the club with the Airborne canvas that his late brother Brian had painted as a young lad years ago, it was a our very honor to hang it up as backdrop for the night.
And that’s the kind of night it was.
In the name of–god help us— Scoobfest!, this was a night of remembrance and reunion. We were thankful to witness these old friends catching up after so many years, and though we didn’t know every face in the room, it was a true honor to think we may have lent some soundtrack to the wild memories they all shared.
We are taught yet again: a new thing to take home, to take to heart, to guard as a shiny family heirloom given to us with graciousness and with love.
And once again the night has gotten very late, very quick.
We have every intention of begging off, slipping away to the sublime comforts offered by the corporate motel chain, while the party rages on behind us.
We are, as always, the last in the club, and the last on the deserted street after.
Chatting with the last of the laughing locals, intoxicated on lagers and friendship, amidst piles of guitar cabinets scattered on the sidewalk like toys tossed aside by a cranky child unwilling to go down for her nap.
Plans are made to hit the all night diner for a last meal, a last chat with friends.
Turns out we’re not ready to go down , not quite yet, either.