06-14-2002
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Cactus Club
 
Milwaukee is so close to Chicago. Playing in Milwaukee feels like playing in Bellingham when we lived in Seattle: we can leave after work, move slow & still show up in plenty of time; but it's not far enough away that you're gonna spend the night, so you drive back, get back to town when the sun's coming up & you're seeing things all over the road, & once again you realize why, as Mott the Hoople said & Andy quoted the day after the show, you can't erase the rock & roll feeling from your mind.

Matt came to town on Thursday night, just in time for one practice, and one late night of half-hearted dancing & carousing, still self-conscious, as so many people in this town are, with memories of just how fun those late nights can be. It feels good to dance, though, even half-heartedly; and regardless of how I feel the next day, I always feel alive when I make the choice to stay up late, alive and young. I know that sort of behavior will age me, but I got to have that feeling. So Matt and I stayed out, I woke up early, we all worked our day jobs; then we all met at Tiny & Vick's, & we all drove up to Milwaukee, some of us in the van, some of us in Tim's car. At some point we passed Bob and Clint and Chris in the Shellac van, and we honked and screamed and they wondered who we were.

I drove, and I was tired; but when I asked at the club for a cup of coffee, they said that no, they didn't have any coffee! And as my heart was breaking breaking, a man from across the bar, George, a man who clearly valued a cup of coffee, leapt from his seat, saying "you want some coffee? I'll make ya a pot! Come on!" I ran from the bar and raced to catch up him. George lived about 30 feet from the front door of the bar. He'd quit both drinking and smoking, and the process seemed to have given him a vast amount of energy. He was a pleasant, if overly exuberant, thin-limbed, gray-haired guy, very friendly; and after I put in just the right amount of grounds into the strainer thingy, he sent me back to the club. Soon George brought me a damned pot of coffee, two mugs, and a pint of that mint-flavored creamer stuff. It was a kind of miracle.

We ate at the club... and I do like the Cactus, I do; but they said they were going to bring us some delicious pizza, and I ended up having one square of aggressively cheesy insubstantial crap pizza, just one square! That's not even a slice! Well, maybe it's a slice, but only just. It was a lousy dinner, it really was.

But the show was fun. The stage at the Cactus sounds, especially from the back corner where the drums sit, like you've got your head shoved into a starfish; but it's still a fun & intimate place to play. Any events otherwise? I don't think so. The show was good, they say; Matt and Bubba played a bunch of Bedhead & New Year songs, and for their last song Andy and Tim and I got onstage with them and played Lepidoptera, this lovely Bedhead song. Consonant were very good, with Tim and Bob tag-teaming on bass, and the sound much better offstage than on. So all went well; and Bubba and Andy and I drove the van back to Chicago. They both nodded off; and after about 40 miles, I started seeing things, & started bobbing my head & singing nonsense to myself to stay awake. Tim, Vickie, Matt & Johnny K. (who'd come out from Cleveland for the weekend) didn't drive straight back, but instead went to an Iron Skillet for a wretched late-night desperation dining experience, even with uncooked apple pie. Uncooked apple pie! That's what I'm lookin fer.


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