The Nap

The WebX meeting drones on, Shelia from HR outlining the third phase protocol of facilitiy reopening, once phase two has cleared, pending the go ahead from the individual team leaders but not until after…..when you catch yourself drifting off with a snort of a snore.

You look longingly at the couch, just a meter away.
Ah, to stretch out, mid day and- if even just for a moment- slumber.

And so a new generation has discovered the joy that musicians, toddlers and other day drinkers have known about all along: the nap.

Oh, you’ve been a good sport, all this work from home stuff.
Sitting through meaningless PowerPoint presentations and corny Zoom birthday parties for Jason down in Contracts.
That you are only wearing pajama tops and terrycloth skorts is small consolation as the day reaches 2pm, and you suddenly catch your head slipping off its axis, nodding like a novelty sippy bird.
But you resist, pop another RedBull. Go to sleep during the day, me?

What ya need is a nap.

Oh, I’m not talking about those sweaty 90 minute affairs that wreck your Saturday.
Where you bolt upright, clammy from the vivid nightmares that haunt deep daytime sleep.

See, all ya need is 25 good minutes of shut eye, a quick reset of the day.
What can be more luxurious than to take a break mid day, to simply give ourselves a moment of graceful rest.
Shut ourselves out of the scary clatter, disconnect from the insane digital trash we have injected into our every moment of consciousness.
We draw the blinds, lay down in a room darkened and cool.
And shut our eyes.

That’s the ticket.

Kindergarten, do they still nap?
That was a charming and somewhat creepy tradition we could probably not get away with today.
A roomful of toddlers strewn across the floor, faces pressed into the synthetic toxicity of a filthy rug, the unsupervised supervision of a single adult watching over 25 unconscious minors.

The Asian community has long seen the value of laying head down on desk.
No shame here, people. More like plugging in the phone for a bit, letting the little flashing lighting bolt of sleep recharge the inner lithium.

The closet alcoholic goes out to his van at lunch, a cheerful little respite after nipping off a half pint of Canadian Club all morning. He’s back at the desk at 1pm bright as a nickel, ready to tackle those spreadsheets until it’s time for Happy Hour at El Torito.

Passed Out. Napping.–who’s to say? It’s all semantics officer.
And besides the keys weren’t even in the ignition.

If that’s the case, Kimm and I have been guilty of only catnaps at 3am, holding up the line at Del Taco.

But traveling with an aging punk band, oh baby.
That’s where naps are not only beloved, but necessary as Wet Ones and backstage WiFi passwords to the touring musician.
Fuck soundcheck, brother.
We’ll be back at the Quality Inn, riding those semen paisleyed comforters like champs, blissfully asleep until downbeat.

On those rare occasions we all have to share a day room or perhaps an upstairs apartment above the venue in Europe, it is a race to see who goes down for the nap first. The loser of this contest is usually cheated out of his nap, subjected to the symphony of syncopated snoring and farting that soon fills the room.

It is an enviable talent to be able to shut down instantly, like a machine.
Anthony of course has been known to fall asleep mid sentence, deep into REM before the flight attendant has even finished holding the oxygen mask in front of her face.
In the van, Ant can only be counted on for just a brief conscious moment: getting his place in the back of the van before making a canine circle of the best seat and immediately drifting into slumber.
Bunk mate Nick just looks over at him, envious, and silently pulls out the Bose noise cancelling headphones in preparation for the hurricane of snoring that will soon flood his vicinity.

Back when the band was in its hard drinking days, we’d pull into town and meet the locals for a jolly lunch.
Our reputation precedes us, and old friends have been dying to show us what’s new in town.
The decent Churrascaria , or maybe that bar with the good jukebox–hell, they persuaded the owner to open early, just for us.

And what’s this? Hah! An actual beer bong? You guys!

In the guise of good humor, we’d ingest everything put in front of us.
Waddle through a hilarious soundcheck and then its bed time.
How many times have nervous promoters called the agent back home, the support band blasting away in the background, wondering just where the hell we were.

Up and back into moldy clothes, back into the van and back to the venue with the second hangover of the day.
A couple shots of Jaeger to get back in the groove, play the gig and then drink enough to get back to sleep, ready to do it again, then again.
Good times.

A bit more sleep. I propose it’s what we’ve all been yearning for.
We have become discontent, ready to shout ourselves hoarse over natural difference of opinion.
I hear you.
We’re all scared, we’re all pissed.

What we have become, is cranky.

And what do we say to all cranky children, hmmm?
Somebody needs a nap!

My Dinner with Chi

I walked upstairs to the backstage, not in a great mood.
It had been a long miserable travel day to Kiel, 8 hours on an Autobahn that slowed to a crawl every 80 kilometers due to construction.
The old soda delivery van we traveled in had no air conditioning, a single rear window.
We took turns at the window seat to stare out at the baking sunflowers and the neon vested roadworkers who would slow us down yet again.

We finally got to the club and loaded in, too late for a soundcheck.
We all wandered off in different directions, finally free of being in a space the size of a refrigerator box with four other oversized men.
We would play this gig, load up again and get a couple hours on the road toward Berlin before sleeping somewhere.
It was one of those nights when you have to ask yourself just why, exactly, are you are doing this.

I walked into the dresssing room and there sat Ken at the catering table, picking through the fatty meats and sweating cheeses.
He looked up, registered my dark mood, then started to plaster himself with slices of deli.

Mike, he says. It’s Good-ah to see you!
And here he points at to himself.
Gouda—eh? You get it?

Fuckin Chi.
Anything for a laugh.

We first met Chi way back.
Summer of 1983 we cut back West through Canada.

A gig in Toronto with Youth Brigade then meeting up with our old pals in Stretchmarks, Winnipeg.
We set off toward Edmonton with hangovers, those hardy Canadiens feeding us Extra Old Stock malt liquors all night for their wicked amusement.

Ken was young then, great fucking hair.
We had the half Asian thing in common, and chatted about that a bit.

I remember the night after the gig he came and hung out with us as we did our wash at some Edmonton laundromat, took us to a cheap place he knew for lunch.
He sat in the blue and white while we waited for the dry cycle to finish, thumbing through Jay’s pro wrestling magazines. I believe he wanted to be in the van when we shut the doors.
Ready to go on to Vancouver, onto somewhere, anywhere, more exciting than another dull weeknight in a prairie town.
He was a kid to us, but totally into the music and lifestyle we seemed to be only taking half seriously in comparison,

For when he took to the stage, it was energy unleashed.
You’ve seen the photos, Chi rarely with two feet planted upon the stage. It was as if laws of gravity didn’t apply to him.
It was a meter above the Earth that he was more comfortable, singing those pun driven lyrics with a surprisingly clear tenor.

We caught up a few other times through the years, when they would come through LA, SNFU rightfully eclipsing our band in popularity.

2009 Düsseldorf we shared a bill once again.
A grand night, Adolescents and The Dickies, DOA, SNFU and us.
I walked backstage and said my hellos, Joey Shithead eating some backstage pasta, Anthony and Soto chatting over the bar.
I saw Ken, and I think it was the first time I encountered him in the Mr. Pig persona.

He came right over and gave me a sweaty hug.

I held him at arms length.
Jesus, kid
, I said. What the hell happened to you?

And indeed, this last decade, he did look rough.
The drugs and mental demons seeming to pull ahead of him.

Not that it came as a surprise, the social media posts seem to all start off with, before repeating the news of his passing.
And that’s the fucking heartbreaker, right there.

He flipped his dentures over in his mouth and cackled, took off into the club.

It was the usual clusterfuck after the gig, all the bands loading up in the darkness, drum hardware and amp heads slotted Tetris-like into the back of Sprinter vans.
Tour routes compared, we’d see some of these guys in a few days for another gig, probably catch up with everyone again at Rebellion.

I found Chi wandering around, said goodbye.
He laughed again, another damp hug, then went past me and fell to his knees behind DOA’s tour van.
He pointed at the towing ball mounted beneath the bumper and laughed, then actually put his mouth around the filthy thing.
Look Mike, I’m sucking the chrome off a trailer hitch!

Fuckin’ guy,
Anything for a laugh.