Friday, May 30, 2008
The Wind Beneath My Weed
I suffer from a severe syndrome known around The Black Hollies’ camp as “Jumping The Gun,” or simply JTG. JTG is a combination of reacting first then thinking rationally after the fact. The side effects of JTG include an accelerated deterioration of one’s short term memory which often times results in the misplacing of important personal belongings as well as the flat out loss of valuables. Luckily, most times what is deemed lost is shortly recovered, met with any of three other Black Hollies’ response, “JTGG, Jump The Gun Gonnelli.” Anyone who jumps the gun is punished by adding their last initial to the acronym, JTGW, Jump The Gun Wiley, JTGM, Jump The Gun Morey, JTGF, Jump The Gun Ferrante, and so on and so forth. It is a great feeling to realize that what one believes to be lost is really not. However, it is crushing and difficult to accept the moment when one must move forward knowing that a personal item of irreplaceable value is gone forever. The grueling time frame of a low budget rock and roll tour often forces one to forgo vital search missions in the interest of making it to the next gig within the optimal arrival window. Why have a day off when you can play Jimmy's Crab Shack in Baton Rouge? There's no guarantee at the door but maybe you'll sell some merch. You get all the shellfish you can eat. And you can wash down that crawdaddy with a free round of Pabst Blue Ribbon from Jimmy the owner. Where do we sign up?
The Black Holllies celebrate the birthday of Nicholas Albert Ferrante in Denver, Colorado to a crowd rife with Ferrante enthusiasts, aka Nick’s old friends. The Black Hollies play to an appreciative crowd at 3 Kings Tavern, a dynamite venue. Colder Than Fargo, the openers, are a great bunch of fellows, extremely friendly. The Black Hollies’ performance culminates when three buxom women step on stage during Hold Tight Go Out Of Your Mind to shake it. The dancing women, no strangers to the stage, are known around town as the OO LA LA Girls, a burlesque dance troupe. Ferrante’s birthday bash is a success. The Black Hollies are entrusted with a parting gift from one of Nick’s friends, an eighth of homegrown Denver chronic. Two hits are enough. Anything beyond that, one risks a trip to Vietnam. The gift takes the heat off the following day’s spirit crushing eight hour drive to Salt Lake City, UT, dreaded because of its length but more so because of its final destination. Driving eight hours only to arrive in Salt Lake City is like behaving all year long only to have Santa Claus give you a huge pile of donkey turds on Christmas day. It is worth digressing here to note that in 1982 Herbert Joseph Wiley V’s baby sitter tells him that Santa Claus isn’t real. Young Wiley V is five years old. He, in turn, shares this information with his entire Kindergarten class the following day, only to be punished by his mother for telling the truth.
The Black Hollies prepare for their trek to Salt Lake by immediately purchasing a 5L mini-keg of Heineken in order to put it on ice for eight hours to ensure maximum refreshment upon arrival at the evening’s venue, Burt’s Tiki Lounge. Passed experiences in Salt Lake City dictate this fortifying of provisions as essential. Even though the Mormans renounce polygamy in 1890 it is still easier to legally marry eleven women in Utah than it is to find strong drink. There’s no way The Black Hollies are going into the trenches without back-up. I return to the Hampton Inn in Littleton, Colorado with the mini-keg on ice. In my excitement over the previous evening’s parting gift I ask Wiley for the bag. Severe winds pick up outside of the hotel which according to the weather report are at times in excess of 20MPH. I take the bag of natural medicine from Wiley and in the true JTG fashion of attempting to do four things at once I place the bag in the front passenger seat of Palestinian Bluetooth. I turn my back for less than a split second. Much to my dismay the bag seems to be misplaced. This is extremely odd as I don’t leave the front seat of the van where I place the bag. I desperately ask Wiley if he takes the bag back to which he replies, “Stop JTGing. Serioulsy, where the fuck is it?”
Sustaining the loss of valuable weed is a difficult blow to recover from. At first, I refuse to accept this outcome and rack my brain for possible explanations of how something could disappear into thin air. Is it deus ex machina, the hand of God intervening to let us know that the particular bag in question just isn’t meant for our enjoyment? Did I jump the gun and throw it in the trash by accident? The Black Hollies scour the entire hotel parking lot, pick through all the garbage cans, and tear apart the van for at least an hour before departure. A new acronym is born, JB, short for Junkie Behavior, which ties in nicely with the previously mentioned excavation wherein Justin Angelo Morey actually digs in the desert with a sliver of a blown radial tire in search of Dead Meadow’s natural medicine. The expression on Wiley’s face during the Denver search mission is what I imagine his expression to be in 1982 when his baby sitter tells him Santa Claus isn’t real, an expression of utter dismay. After going as far as to investigate a construction site about three hundred yards from the hotel parking lot I accept full responsibility for the band’s loss, a sad case of JTG at its absolute worst. I couldn’t just wait to get out on the highway right? The only explanation The Black Hollies agree on is that the angle of the van’s doors being open along with the severe gusts of wind cause the weed to be whisked away by the powers that be, perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Most of the ride to Salt Lake City is completed in dead silence. Acceptance slowly creeps in around the sixth hour. The Black Hollies arrive at Burt’s Tiki Lounge with enough time to tap into Bluetooth’s mini bar. Traveling without weed is a double-edged sword. It’s smart because in states like Utah where Mormanism flows like wine police do not generally look kindly upon the sweet leaf. Ganja’s absence though is a good way to reach out to new people. However, not having a personal stash places one at the mercy of the blend of the newly acquainted. In situations such as these proper discretion is essential. One needs to be wary of local lacings with angel dust, meth, crack, roach killer, embalming fluid, etc. The Black Hollies keep this in mind at Burt’s Tiki Lounge but take the plunge regardless considering the dire circumstances of the early afternoon. A few friendly folks turn us on before the show. When asked if it’s mellow or Vietnam they ensure the band that it’s good saying, “You’ll be able to function on it.” I wind up not be able to sleep until about five in the morning as I roam the streets around our hotel. I literally come within a pussy hair’s length of getting hit by a car. I witness police clean up a drunk driving accident. I’m wearing a pale yellow t-shirt and white jeans. My night concludes with a crackhead asking me, “Are you an impressionist because you look like mustard and mayonnaise?” I make my own conclusion regarding the local lacing.
The Black Hollies’ performance at Burt’s Tiki Lounge is noteworthy because it marks the second time during the tour that Justin Angelo Morey vomits in his own mouth as a result of the odor emanating from inside the bathroom. The first incident occurs at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas. I witness both incidents. During the second incident I am in the middle of taking an aerial dump pretending that I’m camping ignoring the shooting pains in my knees. Anyone who believes that putting a toilet paper nest on a toilet seat in a disgusting punk rock bathroom is going to prevent one from contracting whatever disgrace is festering on the seat is gravely mistaken. Such logic is akin to believing that Nyquil cures AIDS. During the first incident in Lawrence, Kansas, I’m about to exit the bathroom as I hear Morey’s first dry heave. I turn around and ask if he’s alright to which he replies, “Please don’t leave me in here.” Morey then promptly vomits in his own mouth. In a mock wild man southern drawl, “But dude, WE PLAAAAYED!”