Saturday, July 01, 2006

Booze Is All Around: GBV-in-Minneapolis-Gate Part Two

Where were we? Oh yeah, I think I was attempting to displace some generalized nervousness into some kind of giant fiberglass animal. Have I ever mentioned that I don't travel well? It did work, distracting myself with the best product to come out of Black River Falls since Wisconsin Death Trip, and one of The Middle West's finest roadside oddities. And riding shotgun for the rest of the trip didn't hurt either. Have I ever mentioned that I hate to drive?

OK, so the rest of the trip along I-94 was more or less uneventful ... or at least I don't remember much, other than a constant quest for listenable radio. (This will probably be, I'll warn you now, the mild chapter in the saga, but it should contain plenty of dark, dark storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Those of you craving blood and rage will have to wait for the third chapter.) I hadn't been to the Twin Cities since a job interview in St. Paul in the summer of 1993 for a clerkship gig with the Minnesota Supreme Court (which, sadly, I didn't get, probably due to lack of local connections, but also, I think, because Alan Page didn't like me, but I digress).

Anyway, I was happy to see the place. I don't have roots in Minnesota, but my grandfather came from South Dakota, and being a good part-Swede, I find that the whole region feels pretty much naturally like home ground. And of course I was happy to be seeing my old ex-roomie again. I think Des will agree, Kev's the best ex-roomie ever.

And, of course, the main attraction was just a few hours away, the excuse for the journey, the Guided By Voices show at First Avenue.

Unfortunately, as Des reminded me last night, Minneapolis was hot that day. Africa hot. Nobody told me it was gonna be that hot.* Des blames the heat for the immediate headfirst plummet into an Olympic-sized puddle of hard liquor, and I'm not inclined to dispute that.

At any rate, I had gotten too far away from Dr. Big Orangey The Fake Moose Therapist, and was doing laps in my own pool of free-floating anxiety (I should work harder on this metaphor, but screw it), so I didn't drink a lot. I won't get into a full box score of who drank what and how frighteningly fast, but I'm pretty sure I was the second-least drunken in the party (which, I think, worked against me later in the Kev's Girlfriend Court of Justice, but it's skipping ahead in the narrative to mention that, and I don't know if I'm even going to go into that subplot, so never mind).

Actually, this part of the story is in danger of getting pretty fucking dull. Everybody hates "Oh my god we got so drunk" stories. Well, people like to tell them, but they're usually painful to the listener. So I don't want to fixate on that, and I'll just say that there was too much liquor drunk and not enough calzones eaten at the pre-show dinner at Kev's house for people in their mid-30s to be proud about it.

The only noteworthy detail, I think, is that The Des ... The Des. Now, I love The Des like a brother, but on the walk over to the show, I came pretty close to having to put him down. And I don't mean insult him. I mean he was the drunkard equivalent of a racehorse with a broken leg. We hadn't even gotten to the club yet and he was like a sailor on his first shore leave. Although if he had been a sailor, he would probably have been wearing bell bottoms and would have tripped over his pants legs and broken his neck right then. Saving us a lot of trouble.

I wasn't keeping any of this to myself, either. During that long, long walk (I know we drove to the general vicinity of the club, but the walk from the car to First Ave. seemed to take just short of forever) I threatened Des with all sorts of Uday & Qusay treatments if he didn't get hold of himself. (Which he didn't.) And I promised to make him feel it, numb drunk or not. (I don't think he was listening.) Maybe I have some anger and hostility issues, I'll admit that, but bad, bad things had happened to (and by) Des at GBV shows before, and being several hours from home base, I wasn't feeling equipped to deal with any of that. I just wanted to rock, dammit.

Not that I wanted to be a wet blanket, either. Or to endure the show sober. I've sat thru GBV shows sober, and it's not much fun. It's kind of like going to a sex orgy and spending the evening playing Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of Republicans. Republican dudes. Or something like that. It just ain't right, is what I'm trying to say.

So we got to the club alive and got inside, and the next two items on the agenda were beer buying and pee peeing. I think we peed first, then bought beer. It was cool inside the club and the cool air felt good. (That's the Nick Adams sentence of the story, by the way -- the Hemingway character, not the dead actor.)

And we were pumped, we were hyped, we were feeling great. We were ready for rock. Whether or not rock was ready for us. The P.A. was blasting Who songs and we were into it. (We didn't yet know that John Entwistle had died, and I'm glad for that.)

I already brought up the big glass beer bottles in the first chapter. We had a round of Newcastles or something before the show started, which was innocent enough, and stood around getting acclimated. I was wondering if the GBV fans were all gonna show up late, because everybody in the club so far seemed unusually sedate, more like they were waiting for a Noam Chomsky lecture than a rock show. At GBV shows, I usually had to eyeball the crowd to try to figure out which jamokes were likely to want to punch me in the face for no reason and then make escape plans for avoiding them when things got roiling, but at this show, the crowd seemed to be full of 23-year-old versions of all my Swedish aunts and uncles -- to call them reserved and understated would be too reserved and understated. The type of people who, when you tell them a joke they find really hilarious, let you know by lifting the corners of their mouths slightly for about half a second. It was a rock club full of goddamn Garrison Keillor characters, for crying out loud.

Mind you (and Feral Mom alluded to this in a comment to the first post), our group was not made up of what anybody would call hooligans. Or roustabouts. Or rowdies. Or even lunkheaded, corn-fed frat boys with heads full of baseball caps and rape fantasies -- which is what comprised GBV's standard audience in Chicago. We're all pretty much polite ... nerds. Nice people. (I mean, I'm listening to a Gordon Lightfoot song** right now, for Christ's sake.)

But unlike the fine local people, pink-cheeked with checked emotions, we weren't holding our feelings back. And we were feeling pretty exuberant. Not rude, not crazy, just exuberant. Which was no sin, so far.

Then GBV took the stage, and in line with our surging enthusiasm, three members of our six-person party decided to go on a beer run during about the second or third song without telling anybody else. So we all ended up with not just one, not two, but three sweaty 22-oz beer bottles in our soft uncallused college-educated fists.

And then, we started to dance.

To be continued ...


* Inspirational music suggestion, Alice Cooper's "It's Hot Tonight"

It's hot tonight
Too hot for talkin'
It's hot tonight

I sweat tonight
I sweat, no sleeping
It's too hot tonight

Dogs are barkin'
Cats are screamin'
Streets are steamin'
God's own heat's the devil's demon

My turn tonight
To burn with fever
I burn tonight

I smoke tonight
I'm all on fire
It's damn hot tonight

Summer nights they
Make me crazy
Make me all hazy

It's hot tonight
It's too hot for talkin'
It's hot tonight

I sweat tonight
I sweat, no sleeping
It's too hot tonight

Dogs are barkin'
Cats are screamin'
Streets are steamin'
God's own heat's the devil's demon, yeah

** "Alberta Bound"


Feral Mom said...

Oh My God, this is beautiful and dreadful all at once. Thank you, STDPM, for continuing the saga. Brilliant, so far.
Dead-on descriptions of the Minneapolis Crowd, dead-on everything. The High Court of Justice...I too did not fare well there, but I think it was because I was the only other chick, but comported myself like a drunk person instead of a lady. I know that feminism has loftier political goals than this, but I shake my fist and query the universe: Why can't I just be another drunk asshole? Why?
Ahem. Carry on, STDPM. Carry on.

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

Ah, yer too kind. Now the pressure's on to do a good job on part 3, which has most of the action, but I haven't settled on an angle for that yet.

Just returned from a family gathering up in the burbs ... relatives from out of state ... cousins, kids, people people people. It was fun, but certain guys are just meant to be the king of a one-man castle, I think. Glad to be back to Chicago and tranquility. Screaming neighbor parrot notwithstanding.

unkdray obertray ollardpay said...


Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

> unkdray obertray ollardpay

At'sthay edundantray!

Feral Mom said...

Welcome back, STDPM. I eagerly await (and yet, dread) the bloody third chapter.