If you would like to make a one time donation in any amount, please do so by clicking the "Pay Now" button below. You may use any credit or debit card and do NOT need to join Paypal.
The editors of 3QD put in hundreds of hours of effort each month into finding the daily links and poem as well as putting out the Monday Magazine and doing all the behind-the-scenes work which goes into running the site.
If you value what we do, please help us to pay our editors very modest salaries for their time and cover our other costs by subscribing above.
We are extremely grateful for the generous support of our loyal readers. Thank you!
The original site was designed by Mikko Hyppönen and deployed by Henrik Rydberg. It was later upgraded extensively by Dan Balis. The current layout was designed by S. Abbas Raza, building upon the earlier look, and coded by Dumky de Wilde.
During a blaze across Florida, our leader hosted a band party; his way of saying thanks.
Z's Florida house was modest and tastefully appointed. It sat next to similar homes in a jungly subdivision laid out like a medieval city. On the winding way there, our bus idled next to an unusual building: two one-story domes connected by a single arched hallway; an armored brassiere. A sign just off the sand-dusted berm announced in elegant cursive, "The Booby-Trap". Within seconds, clammy road rats began to chant " BOOBY-TRAP, BOOBY-TRAP". We pressed on.
The shindig at Z's was a mostly a blur and awkward for me. Alcohol alleviated little of my social ineptness. It did induce a cranial hum, like the faux-stroke I made as a child by holding my breath, then savagely tightening neck and shoulders. The booze drone unraveled my emotional DNA. I was rarely a happy drunk, but I could act like one.
A road rat's capacity for free food and drink cannot be overstated. Leaving Z's poolside paradise, our tipsy bus joined into roaring unison.
A conference in front gave way. The primitive bus mic crackled. Road Manager, his eyes mostly shut, addressed us in Buffalo-ese.
"Giess...Giess...GIESS! Ok, so summa yous giess ha been eeh-skin abou'tiss place.
"Kuh-why-yet! Jeez. Lemme taahk, f'chrisakes! So, wuh gunna go"
He dropped the mic to waist level and tilted his head back.
"Look, wuh not stayin' aww fuckin' night. An' if any a youse do anythin' stupid, I'm leavin' yer ass. Unnerstand?"
"Do you FUCKIN' UNNERSTAND???"
We were already past him. A mountainous bouncer stationed at the iron bra's fastener checked IDs and warned us to behave. Once inside, we found choice seats. A stoic waitress appeared to take orders, another giant in tow. When my turn came, I hesitated. The mountain spoke:
"You gotta order something, NOW."
For an even ten bucks, I had a draft beer. The show commenced. This was my first strip club visit. I liked seeing naked girls. The dancers looked underage and underfed, though. Behind me, a colleague pounded a fist on the tile table top. His beer bombilated across its' surface. To make him stop, a bouncer put a country-ham size forearm on the table. When the brief show finished, a dancer sat down with us. Were we a band? What kind of music? Where y'all from?
Even without having to speak, I sat paralyzed and grim.She told us she was a singer with professional management and real stardom ahead, just as soon as she got out of this shitty town. The pathos caved my chest in: a highly-trained young misfit, gainfully employed playing my grandparents' music for seniors around this great country, talking to a 19 year-old woman in underwear with surgical tape across her nipples. Yet, l felt insecure about MY career choices. She quickly caught on we wouldn't purchase lap dances or other extras and excused herself. My mind raced. Should I order another drink? A lap dance? Was it cool to just go? Would I look like a sissy? More discomfort. Then, Road Manager got up from his chair, surveyed the room and announced loudly:
"This place fuckin' SUCKS. Les fuckin' go, giess!"
I really wanted to hug him. I didn't, though. Our bus idled roadside. Home.
For therapy, I always walked; on streets I'd never see again, past homes in maw of life. Through the front window, a blurred TV, dining room set and scattered toys. Every few weeks, I ran through our personnel, mentally tagging each with their months or years on the band; finishing with mine.
A new bass player, dogged and self-effacing, endeared himself to us. He often wore a Budweiser t-shirt with their corporate superhero, an egg-headed man, caped and helmeted, painted on the front. We named him after that character: BudMan. Then came another tenor man; a virtuoso on clarinet and pretty fierce on saxophone. He had absolute pitch and relatively little concept; the kind of player I admired and resented. The Divine Road Manager brought him on to prod me. When he asked for and got a feature tune, I dallied a bit, then put in my notice. Decision made, time quickened, anticipating gigs and a lady back in my hometown. I knew what I didn't know: dam near everything. There were musical galaxies to explore and many more road miles, too.
Z lived a long time. The superhuman chops failed first. He saw many more road rats on and off that bus. A colleague said Z was a great American. A shtetl kid, escapee from the Pale of Settlement, became a master craftsman, folded his birth name under and walked with giants.
Coach had a massive stroke and lingers on. He once told me being a Red Sox fan "means suffering". His boys finally won the Series in an improbable comeback. I hope he felt every bubble of joy in that champagne shower. Survivor's guilt is not specific to road warriors. Distance and time swell a moment. Sadness gathers there; fog on a window. Wipe it away, cool and wet, with your hand. Droplets remain in a swath of clarity.
Alto Man and Roomie are thriving, playing and raising families. I know about other guys, too, doing what they love and dealing. We got something for our service on the Iron Lung. Nothing a pawn shop would give a penny for: a certificate in advanced busmanship, a diesel forged mood ring, the strength to know it can be done, with style, grace and moxie, night after night after night.
Posted by Christopher Bacas at 12:25 AM | Permalink