The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: Part 2

Monday, March 12 
No travel 

The lone day of rest for the NH?NP tour was spent in Tully, NY, at, it turns out, a House of Vast Illness. The man of the house was all congested; the baby of the house, Eleanor, had an ear infection; and, on the day of my departure, the lady of the house was having some stomach issues. But the boys of the house (Everett and Wesley) and the manchild taking up residence in the computer room were feeling just fine. And, of course, Hunter was his usual steady presence.

On Monday, Everett was off to school before I was out of bed, but Wes and I took in some Scooby-Doo (they're kind of tramping up Velma if you ask me) before he departed for the morning and I tried to navigate my way through the photo-uploading process (unsuccessfully) on the family Mac. After Wes came back, we celebrated our health by playing Legos, during which I built a pretty awesome tree. Then before naptime, I read one of the weirder kids' books I've ever read, which seemed to celebrate the joys of violence, so long as you use that violence against bullies. Interesting. Old-school.

Despite his congestion, Bryan nailed the audio-book version of his legendary foreword (rest assured, the children were nowhere near the recording area) in one take and gamely tried to read another essay before we bagged that and decided we'd try again later. We ran out of time, but we'll get it before November 19, 2012 (the official release date...mark your calendars, or whatever people mark these days).

There was more Lego time after Everett and his friend returned from school, but having already achieved perfection with my tree, I thought it best to just sit back and watch.

Monday was, in fact, mostly a day to sit back and watch. I can do that. For a day. Two would be a bit of a struggle.

Tuesday, March 13

Amtrak from Syracuse to Rochester: 12:48 pm

I think I can speak for Wes when I say that we're both comfortable enough in our masculinity to admit that we watched My Little Pony Tuesday morning. It wasn't bad either. I'm not saying I'm going to the next Bronycon, but I enjoyed it more than I expected. What? Why do I know that there is a convention "for afficionados [sic] of the show 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic'"?

Not important.

Anyway, Tuesday was the day I almost concussed myself. Wes and I were engaged in a spy mission in which we couldn't be captured by Dad. I'm not clear what the ultimate goal of our mission was, but Wes drew a map and everything, so I assume it was something pretty important. I think at one point chocolate chips were mentioned. I didn't ask many questions, because that's the approach Chuck Barris took when he was a hitman for the CIA. It seemed to work for him.

Unfortunately for my head, I was so into the mission that when it looked like we might be caught and Wes told me to hurry into his room before Dad got us, I neglected to factor in the sloped ceiling right by the door, and, well, that hurt. Wes even expressed concern, bless his heart. I checked for blood  oozing from my scalp and didn't find any, so that, combined with the fact that we weren't captured, means the mission was a success. It turns out there weren't any chocolate chips to get, so we settled for mini Clif Bars.
Wes, upon my departure
After determining I was feeling no dizzier than usual, I declared myself ready to get back on the road. So Bryan and Wes drove me (well, actually, just Bryan drove; Wes read a Harry Potter Lego book and then shut his eyes for a bit) to the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse and it was off to Rochester for a return visit almost 14 years in the making. The last (and only) time I was in Rochester was with Bryan and his then-girlfriend/now-wife Kelly to see Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks open for Kenny Wayne Shepherd (guess when we left) at the Water Street Music Hall. I only saw Rochester in darkness and not for very long that time. In fact, the only thing I remember from that trip (other than Todd singing "Call Me the Breeze" and his bass player smoking a bowl in the alley behind the hall) was Bryan stopping to pee in a field in the middle of nowhere and the two of us singing Old 97s songs really loud so that everybody stayed awake on the ride home. Neither Bryan, I, nor Wes sang Old 97s songs really loud on the way to the train. I doubt Wes knows any, but he'll learn.

The Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge and the Genesee River, Rochester, NY
Trains are supposed to be more peaceful than buses, right? So how do you explain that my 90-minute trip featured the following:
  • Across the aisle from me was a gentleman who was on the phone for the entire ride (when one call ended, he'd start another within 10 seconds), debating the merits of buying certain athletic equipment, including trampolines from Germany that are called Grand Master. That can't be right, I thought. Grand Master? From Germany? That's a little too Third Reich-ish, no? Well, a Google search reveals that is simply the name of a trampoline sold by a company in Germany. The actual name of the company is Eurotramp. I don't care what you tell me; there's still plenty of weird crap going on in Germany. Let's keep an eye on them. And don't mention the war.
  • Behind me were two children who seemed adorable on the platform. As it turns out, one of them was slightly less adorable than expected, because he or she (I honestly couldn't tell, and I wasn't turning around to look) spent I'd say a solid 15 minutes hacking "like an 80-year-old man" (in the words of a woman I assume was Mom) and spewing something (vomit? bile? who knows?). It made reading a touch difficult. I considered recording the event, but, lucky for you, I decided that was in poor taste. I would say something pithy like, "Score one for Greyhound," if I hadn't been on a bus last month where a grown man was making noises 50 times as bad and walking back and forth to the bathroom three or four times. And he was only on the bus for 45 minutes. I actually would've recorded that. You'll have to just settle for my impression. Just ask the next time you see me.
But enough talk of whooping cough and wretching. For now. I can't say I won't return to it later on. But I'll try to avoid it.

While waiting for my friend Liz to pick me up at the train station, I perused the free local weeklies to see if the Amy LaVere show at the Abilene got any advance press and to see what else was going on in Rochester. While doing that, I happened upon this Blondie comic strip and soon found myself kind of wanting to yell at a newspaper in the middle of an empty train station.

Is anybody even trying at Blondie headquarters anymore? First of all, the thought of a guy with his own bowling ball and bag throwing eight gutter balls in a row during a tournament (and a "big" one!) is ludicrous. But, putting that aside, the "in the 9th frame" kills me. If you leave that out, maybe I'm not so in the flesh. But adding it means you're implying that he threw his first eight gutter balls in the first eight frames, which, I guess means he just skipped the second ball each frame. Because you get to throw two balls a frame, you jerk! I understand that he never said he threw eight in a row to start the game, but the implication is clearly there. And if you just take out "in the 9th frame," there's no problem and the strip is no less hilarious.

C'mon, guys. It's bad enough that Dagwood's the star of the strip and gets no billing at all, never mind top billing. Don't make it worse by making him sound like an ignoramus. He deserves better. We all do.
Me and my sweet ass, L&M Lanes, Rochester, NY
After I'd cooled off from that (it took a while), I noticed an ad for L&M Lanes in Rochester, a two-floor bowling alley. I'm a sucker for two-floor bowling alleys, so when Liz picked me up and asked if I wanted to do anything before the show, I mentioned the ad. And soon we were on lane 5 and listening to the Avett Brothers, Dawes, Flogging Molly, and Prince on the L&M jukebox.

I had a respectable showing (158 and 174, I think...I certainly didn't throw nine gutter balls in a row, and neither did Liz), and the second game was with a guy bowling on lane 1 who would let out a hearty "Hoo-ah!" when he threw a particularly good ball. He would have smoked Dagwood in the big bowling tournament.

The L&M was a swell place to spend a few hours in the late afternoon. And I was pleased to comply with their strict dress code.

After bowling, there was plenty of time to make my first ever trip to a Dinosaur BBQ. Yes, despite having spent a fair amount of time near Syracuse and being a PATH and subway ride from the Dinosaur in Harlem, my first Dinosaur experience was in Rochester, where I have spent roughly 30 hours of my life. Go figure. Anyway, it was quite good, and I applaud myself for balancing the pulled pork with a tomato and cucumber salad. You would expect no less from a guy who spent his morning watching "My Little Pony."

Finally, it was showtime. Liz and I got to the Abilene pretty early, grabbed a few prime seats at the bar, and reminisced about the glory days of copy-editing direct mail brochures (if you threw out an envelope touting 5 books for $1 in the late 1990s, there's a decent chance Liz or I made sure that got to your trash can as error-free as possible...you're welcome). The bar eventually filled up, and I think the show might have been a sellout. Unfortunately, this meant our prime seats at the bar turned into the seats where everyone who wanted to get a drink or go outside for a smoke had to pass. But at least we had seats. I like seats, even when the woman standing in front of me is both so close to and so oblivious of me that I think my kneecap is getting lucky in Rochester.

The show was fun, and since it was one of the two headlining shows I'd see Amy do before she hooked back up again with the Rich Robinson tour, it was a long one, too--two sets, in fact. And it was also the first time I'd seen Amy play a bass other than her own, because there was a luggage-falling incident in Buffalo that resulted in a fairly severe neck injury for Amy's upright bass. So she was playing a loaner (and a really nice-sounding one) while her freshly glued bass rested up and set. I would like to point out that no necks, bass or otherwise, were broken after I started following the tour. I'm not saying I'm a hero, but if you want to, you can.

Amy was also a bit under the weather in Rochester, which led to some trouble toward the end of the second set, when the mix of Dayquil, Red Bull, wine, and whiskey started to really come together. So, after a little mini-set from guitarist Dave Cousar, the show came to a close soon after a gentleman yelling out "Whipping Post" and "Cumberland Blues" insisted that Amy should just drink more. She wisely realized that wasn't a great idea and after, I think, calling out a song they had just played about 10 minutes prior, decided to call it a night and get some rest. She and the band played for about two-and-a-half hours by then, so she earned some sleep.

Since Liz had to be up for work and I had to catch a bus to Ithaca in the morning, we made a somewhat hasty exit and called it a night. I'm now two-for-two with fun shows in Rochester. So, nice going, Rochester. I'll be back someday. Probably sooner than 14 years this time.

UP NEXT: A dog is nearly killed, I go back to Ithaca (no more dorm-room window pictures, though), and I finally fall outside a bar in Ithaca.

No comments: