Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Magical Misery Tour

I woke up all sick and wasted in Nashville a few days ago. We were at the Ryman, which, as I've mentioned is a beautiful, historic place where all sorts of magical musical nonsense has gone on. Unfortunately no one likes to put a show on there. There are incessant tours that run through the building all day long, and the stage is a popular photo op.  In case you were wondering I'm not really chatty, and I relish personal space. The felt like being in a zoo on the wrong side of the cage. Still, it's an incredible looking room. It was voted best theatre in the country a few years back. Best, maybe not, most wooden, sure.

The last time I was there I took pictures of the stained glass windows that line the back of the room. On a sunny day they make the room glow. Lexi really liked them as well, so here you go pal.

This is the very spot where Johnny Cash, Elvis, and I have worked. Take that.

I think that we got by alright considering...

An old friend of mine is a security guard at the Ryman. It both elates me and bums me out to see him when I pass through town. He's got a lush life these days basically working security in a museum (Bob Dylan played a few nights before us, but mostly it's the odd tour group or class trip) and spending time with the family, but he is dying to get back out on a tour. Boredom has got him by the throat. He often has a desperate look in his eyes whenever he talks about travel. I recognize that in myself from time to time.

New Orleans was next. I really love that town. Never had a bad time there. Other than the still oppressive heat and humidity it was pretty nice. Our bus driver put a bunch of those bastard bugs out of their misery on the way in. Most of them were the size of basketballs, I swear.

Also, there's gators in them waters.


And then the rain came. Funny how nearly everyone in New Orleans has become an expert on local weather. A two degree shift in temperature and people are running for the lifeboats. Fair enough.

Ally and I decided to forgo the bus trip to Houston and stay overnight in New Orleans.

We tooled around town for a few hours after the show, had a few drinks at One Eyed Jack's and Mimi's. I was hanging on by a thread the whole time as I'm still recovering from what can only be described as some sort of avian flu cross-pollenated with leprosy. The nice thing about New Orleans is that public intoxication is rather encouraged, so I was fine to wander the streets with a cup of hot whiskey and honey. We ended up at a great little local spot in Ally's neighborhood for a nite cap (which was, I believe, the second or third 'nite cap' of the evening).

It was amazing what just one day away from the juggernaut that is this tour can do for your (my) mental health. Just one day without a computer, without a schedule, without loud noises and omnipresent drunks. It was magnificent, calming, and also terrifying when I realized that maybe I am missing out on some of the better parts of life by taking part in all of this. After a long night on the sauce Ally felt otherwise. A couple whiskeys combined with the sweltering Louisiana heat does precisely this to a wayward Scotsman.

We stayed in this amazing old house that was vacant but for a motorcycle repair shop downstairs and a plethora of treasures buried under sheets in each room. It was a pretty daunting place to confront at four in the morning. It seemed quite a bit more welcoming in daylight.

There was all manner of strange shit about. Books on handguns, suicide notes, detox manuals, taxidermy, paintings by the handicapped...I was pretty partial to the pig ottoman,

The horse marionette,

The cat helmet (and snoopy hair dryer),

and this little fella...suffice to say that I had no idea what sort of parallel universe I had stumbled into in the middle of the night. I woke at dawn drenched in my own sweat, utterly confused.

The place we crashed at was in Bywater, or the upper 9th ward. Ally and I wandered down to the lower 9th, or what little is left of it. It is still a scene of destruction on a grand scale. I guess I was pretty unprepared for all of it. People with no money basically lost everything that they had. Insurance companies backed out on the claims, taxes went up and now a healthy percentage of the city is wasteland. Nearly every house still carries the fema/national guard markings from a few years back. Sometimes it's a badge of courage or survival, but more often it means that the houses are vacant.

Ally's friends made us dinner and lent us their A-team van to drive to Houston. They have an amazing house with no neighbors (no one on their block returned after the storm), and 4 chihuahuas. Again, this is sometimes what I feel like I miss out on when I am in my little coffin of a bunk speeding down the highway to another show.

The beast, like driving a tank backwards in the rain (which is pretty close to the truth).In spite of that it was nice to get out and drive again. I'm pretty good at it. It reminded me of the cross-country trip that I took a few year ago. I'd like to do it again provided I have some time off, the A-team van and someone who looks an awful lot like Mr. T.

Houston-Austin-Dallas-Home. Race you there.

rip Marcel Marceau, and my desire to ever see a naked woman again thanks to that meg white debacle.