Dear Tour Diary,
shit shit shit shit shit shit.
We have another full week of touring, and things have gotten bad. The tit for tat, eye-for-an-eye mentality of this band has turned mean. Real, real mean.
I’ll try and catch you up, Tour Diary.
After a day of tense, never-let-your-guard-down driving, we slept at a Super 8 in Topeka. It was, for a Super 8, quite lovely. We slept well. Ryan – the only member of the band without a vendetta and score to settle – was in charge of the keys, and (despite my bribary attempts) he maintained the moral high ground and the evening was peaceful and uneventful. We rose not too early, and headed out to find coffee and food.
It is worth noting, tour diary, that even in the midst of blood feuds and smoldering vengeance, there is an unassailable unity of purpose in our morning need for caffeine. For the brief drive to the cafe, we were a band again, and there was peace.
The brief cease-fire was broken, as poor, sweet, neutral Ryan – our Switzerland – innocently sipped his morning coffee. On sip, and then – PPPPHHHHHTHHHH – he spat it all over our surprised faces, and ran to the bathroom gagging. In the uproar that followed, it was revealed that Ben, retaliating for the stolen bedroom (remember, tour diary?), had tried to spike Phil’s coffee with salt, mayonnaise and onions. Phil, being on his guard, had done a Princess-Bride-Esque drink switch with Ryan (assuming his neutral status would give him relative safety in this passive-agressive touring guerrilla war). We were noisily ejected from the cafe. I barely managed to finish my espresso.
The drive from Topeka to Columbia, Missouri, was fraught with danger and bad vibes, tour journal.
I don’t think I’ve ever needed a second cup of coffee so badly as when our ship of ill-will landed at The Rose Music Hall that afternoon.
I raced, by myself, out the door, down the block seeking espresso, safety, and a friendly face. Leaving my gear behind with my not-to-be-trusted band mates was, in hindsight, a mistake. But the need for good espresso overrides all my better judgements, as you well know.
Tour Diary – if you ever find yourself in Columbia, Missouri, get thee to Fretboard Coffee. It will make you happy; it will bring you great joy; the atmosphere and company will lift your spirts, and their deep, dark, lovingly roasted espresso will sooth your soul.
Conveniently, just upstairs from this espresso-slinging oasis was a comic book shop.
Just down the street was a used bookstore, where a book-loving, music-loving photographer/book-clerk and I chatted on the finer points of book-clerkery (as you know, tour journal, I too am a ~former~ bookstore clerk), comic addiction, and record collection.
I was in such a happy place as I walked jauntily back to the venue, the dark espresso still pumping strongly through my veins, holding my new books and comics close to my chest, that I was totally unprepared as two men in ski masks jumped me – darting out from behind alleyway dumpsters.
Thank goodness, tour diary, for all of those Kung Fu movies I watch. In mere moments, one of the would-be thugs was running in fear back down the alley, and the other was crumpled before me, confessing all. They had been hired, tour diary – HIRED – by Alex, still intent on his revenge. (Never would I have thought pretzels to be so important to anyone…)
My espresso-sweet reverie was broken.
This was war. I thought on my suitcase – my bass – my gear, all back in the van; back with those mean savages.
When I got back to the venue, all hell had broken loose.
My bass was being doused with lighter fluid by Alex, while Ben and Phil and Ryan, each with a broken bottle in their cut and bleeding hands, were slowly circling one another in a deadly stand-off. Henry and Kyle were tearing up each other’s suitcases, spilling them all over the road, screaming at each other all the while.
I had nary a moment to take this in. My bass was in danger, tour diary. I sprang into action.
I had just tackled the fire-wielding Alex, stopping his bass-inferno, when the police came.
The venue had been observing our antics, and, wisely, had taken their own measures.
The police station of Columbia Missouri is spacious and accommodating, and the officers were rough, but polite.
Being locked in separate cells gave us all a chance to take a long, hard look at ourselves, and our petty grievances. Apologies were hollered and accepted down the concrete halls of the jail. The Rose Music Hall lobbied hard, and we were released in time to make our set. Dani, my bookstore-clerk-friend, came by and took some pictures, and a great time was had by all.
The night was capped with $1.00 pizza slices, and a late-night drive to a Motel 6 in Troy, Illinois. Today we head for Lou Malnotti’s pizza in Chicago. Someone is claiming that we also have a gig to play in Evanston, but I say that they have their priorities severly backwards, tour diary.
It is raining. The truce and reconciliation from the Columbia Jail still holds.
I have high hopes for the rest of this tour.
But I’m still not leaving my coffee anywhere near Phil.