Sure we have the highest sales tax in the nation due to incompetent or corrupt politicians. Probably both. Yeah, parking can suck at times, like when you want to stop driving and park. And it’s late March and there’s three inches of snow on the ground.
But when I left work Friday a week ago I didn’t have to sit in rush hour traffic – I just hopped on the train, worked the crossword puzzle, realized I know nothing about the Bible or rivers outside North America, and was home in 45 minutes.
I then walked to Big Joe’s bar to meet up with Moist Rub, Stiv_OO, and Senor Cojones, and munched on completely unsanitary shared bowls of complimentary generic Cheetos before heading to our next stop.
Which was a brewery a block away that was hosting a play called… Beer. We checked in at the box office, which was a folding table inside the side entrance and at showtime we were escorted through a walk-in fridge into the bowels of the brewery and squeezed into temporary bleachers sitting between large, stainless steel tanks. We then watched the story of Boone, a ten year-old who gets drunk on his step-dad’s cheap beer, wakes up in a brewery, and can only go home by learning how to brew beer with the help of his own puke which has come to life in the form of a puppet named Puke and the help of the “beer geeks”, a live band who explain the brewing process to him in song, often performed by puppets representing the ingredients of beer. Of course, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, so the story’s antagonist is none other than Bud Miller, the evil piss-beer brewing founder of Millweiser who sneaks into the beer geek band in disguise in an attempt to sabotage Boone’s efforts to save brewing tradition from the evil corporate overlords. Got it? Like most other of the Neo-Futurist productions I enjoyed it, and Stiv_OO got a souvenir handful of puke when the girl puppeteer in charge of Puke dove into his lap during her big production number. I'm not sure if he's finished his analysis of the very puke-like substance.
After that we returned to Big Joe’s, where we bellied back up to the bar, and I was disappointed to see my cohorts order up an assortment of Miller and Budweiser products. Did they learn nothing? Of course, I was only swilling a diet coke so I let them enjoy their corporate slop. At least they weren’t pretending to like PBR.
The bar was unusually packed for a corner dive, which was explained by the commencement of the weekly turtle races. You buy drinks, you get tickets, if your ticket is called, you get a turtle, if your turtle wins you get a t-shirt, if your turtle loses you get a free drink. Senor Cojones was picked for the second race but finished in the middle of the pack, so we acted like sore losers and left. And I walked home.
Saturday was swell weather so I dusted off the bicycle and took a pleasant ride a few miles north to test out my trusty steed, then came back down Lincoln Avenue and none of the friendly city drivers tried to run me over. We were getting a little hungry so we pulled over and decided to try George’s Pitas. I sent the Mrs. in for a menu while I watched the bikes and within those several seconds a regular came outside to befriend me. He began talking up the merits of the menu items and after I sent the Mrs. back inside with my order for a beef shawarma sandwich, my new buddy stayed behind to keep me company and by the time she returned with our lunch I’m pretty sure I knew more about my new friend than anyone else in his life. I really hope he gets that lump checked out.
That evening, Sr. Cojones came back out and this time brought Sra. Cojones. Yep, I was quite the social butterfly. We went out for Thai food down the street and then continued on to the Old Town School theater since I had picked up some tickets to see Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women. Not Alvin and the Chipmunks as my co-workers were convinced I was going to see. I always thought the Blasters were pretty cool, but was never the huge fan that Sr. Cojones was. But the venue was awesome and I’m always willing to expand my horizons as long as it doesn’t involve peanut butter, gay sex, or the likelihood of ending up in a federal penitentiary. The show seemed to meet that criteria so away we went.
And the verdict…. Wow. It was the most enjoyable show I’ve been to recently. Ol’ Dave is the real deal, a likable sort and a great musician and songwriter. And the Guilty Women – six women he recruited for his latest endeavor – were just as fun to watch as they were to listen to. Everyone was having fun – Dave, the Women, and the crowd.
It also felt very American. There are a lot of people in this country trying to fuck it up for their own gain at the expense of what we’ve built over the last 230 years. I’m not exactly brimming with hope over our chances of getting it back, but this little bastion of Americana made me feel good. A group of solid musicians, performing songs written from the heart, and having fun in a style that is pure U.S. effin'A.
The new CD will be out May 21st. If they come to your town, check them out. Even if you don’t normally listen to dudes who wear cowboy hats, you might be surprised how much you like it. He won’t be selling out stadiums like Kenny Chesney, but I put that in the plus column.
After the show, I walked back to our place happy to know I was taking advantage of all my new neighborhood had to offer. Instead of just complaining about the parking.