from "#2: San Francisco–Houston" in the tour diaries ALL OVER AND OVER
NOVEMBER 3, 2006
Winning lyric of last night—opening band, all the music drops out and the guy rattles off in an urgent, dramatic whisper: “It has been said before that love is incomplete without you. Today, this I do not believe.”
Pulled into Fresno and checked into our hotel. Only had about half an hour before heading over to the show. From Portland to San Francisco, every single person that we mentioned we’re gong to Fresno to responded with, “White Trash.” All protests to the term fully acknowledged, everyone who said so must’ve never been to Bakersfield before. Fresno seemed like just a giant strip mall like Colorado Springs or Sarasota or everywhere. Unlike Bakersfield, which is inhabited 100% exclusively by speed-freak White Power-types with rotting teeth and the glaring gazes of trapped animals.
Except for an Art Walk going on, Downtown Fresno was desolate. The show was in the big back room of an Irish pub. An Irish band played in the corner of the pub and we were told that we were getting dinner from there. An Irish restaurant really seems like the worst idea on earth, but maybe in the context of Fresno. . .?
The room that the show was to be in was painted green with lots of tables with green tablecloths and a big green stage with a big green curtain. It was set up like a wedding reception was about to begin. Would I be expected to throw a shamrock bouquet from the stage? One wall was covered with dozens of autographed promo photos of traditional Irish bands and folk singers. The only exception was the photo of a U2 cover band recreating the cover of Joshua Tree. We all stared at it and felt weird, like seeing Bizarro Superman.
As we loaded in and set up, I went to the bar to get a menu and a beer. The bartender was a very big and tall, arrogant oaf with a gray, Prince Valiant haircut that defied all sense. The haircut was so cartoonish. The arrogance that the man exuded while looking so totally silly—silly in a way that required such specific choices, if not effort—was incredible. He looked like Richard Gere in a fat suit playing the role of the sheep-herding dog from Looney Tunes in a Notre Dame jersey.
Upon first interaction he was immediately a prick, not only protesting my right to a menu, but going so far as to suggest: who do I think I am to even ask for a menu? He confirmed every negative stereotype of the Irish. I think I must be the only self-loathing Irishman on earth, which is exactly what makes me one.
I mean: I like my aunts and uncles. They’re cool. And one time Dublin was super-fun. Patrick came and we hadn’t seen him in years, but in the meantime he had become a super-star skateboarder. That was weird.
But the Owls show in Dublin, the promoter let us into some grimy apartment before leaving town to go visit his girlfriend. He left the six of us one potato, one carrot, and a pound of dry spaghetti and told us to make dinner ourselves. A guy lighting a cigarette at that show, when I asked him for a light, responded in all seriousness that he couldn’t help me out because his lighter was low on fluid. And the JOA show in Belfast, the promoters stopped us halfway through the set because they wanted to go home. Is it fair to feel that the Irish have not been entirely supportive of my artistic efforts?
Me and Bobby split an order of fish and chips which were like Long John Silver’s, gross: greasy fish with potato chips—not “chips” in the British sense of the word, fries, but just potato chips. Even eating as little as I did, I felt horrible for a while afterwards.
While eating, the doors weren’t even open yet and I noticed this kid B____ that we’d met before sitting in the doorway photographing me eating. I tried to ignore him and choke down a couple bites of the garbage quickly.
He followed us around being a general nuisance at our Bakersfield show last year. I mean, enough of a nuisance that we all remembered him. He had e-mailed me a few times and I responded, which seems like a generally appropriate response when e-mailed. Unfortunately he took this to mean that maybe he could come live with me and we’d start a band together. Apparently he was a pretty ingratiating Myspace friend to Sam at this point as well. After the Bakersfield show that he’d followed us around and bugged us at, he sent Sam and Nate links to photos that he’d taken that night. In every photo one of us is on the phone or turning a corner or stepping out of the van, surprised to find him standing next to us smiling real big with his hands out in a wacky faux-Fun-Times gesture. Best-case scenario: this kid is a brilliant performance artist making some project at the expense of our nerves.
The promoter, a friendly guy named Tim, told us that B____ was “very disappointed” that we wouldn’t be staying with him. He had told everyone that we would be and invited everyone over after the show and was so confused about why we got a hotel room. Now he’d be embarrassed in front of all of his friends if we didn’t stay with him and he was mad at us and demanding an explanation.
This kind of shit, specifically, is the exact kind of shit that makes me understand in a very deep and real way the potential, dormant ability within every person to strangle the life from someone else. I slipped out the back door and went for a walk, truly dreaming of murder. And even though I was self-conscious of how crazy it was that I was actually, literally fantasizing about denying this kid of all his future breaths, it didn’t blot out any of the satisfaction of imagining this in detail.
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