All Dogs Go On Tour, Part 4: Shady Mechanics, the Border Patrol, and Local News Idiots

All Dogs Go On Tour, Part 4: Where we escape America, play our way down the coast, go to Hollywood in Portland, and the news is that local news sucks.

Every day I wake wondering, “Where the fuck am I?”

This tour is wearing on us. We are living off of coffee and beer and really need to make a conscious effort to eat right and drink lots of water, a boring liquid that keeps one alive and healthy but doesn’t contain chemicals that make one high and happy.

Touring is auto repair shops and truck stops with racist Obama T-shirts. Our brakes are making noises. Squeaks and screams that grow worse with each new mechanic. At home you can get your car repaired and if the noise returns or is worse, you drive right back the next day with a baseball bat or a lawyer. On the road, you have to look the mechanic in the eye and try to make him like you. It’s best to try and inspire empathy. “Yes you could easily fuck us over, and we will pay what you ask, but for the love of whatever bullshit God you believe in, please don’t fuck me…please.”

When I left off last we were headed to Missoula where David Lynch lived for a spell. We performed in an art space/clothing store where we had to block out the windows with sheets to properly project. Art spaces and rock venues are fun to play in, but often require our set up time to double and triple. At a theater, I set up some lights and my music equipment, but in a little dive bar or art space we hang up a sheet as a screen, and set up our own projector, and seating if available and our merch table, blah blah blah. You show up after driving for five hours groggy, then spend two hours getting ready, and then you feel shaky and crazy and light headed and pissed off just as the awesome fans start coming in, and only then do you realize, “Oh right I haven’t eaten in eight hours.” It’s very hard in this position to eat right, and not just run across the street to gorge on whatever fast “food” is closest. But we do our best to keep the van stocked with produce and hummus and cheese so that in that crazy hunger state we don’t start screaming at one another for no reason or feasting on each other’s flesh or even worse, eat McDonalds.

Another thing one must do while broke and on the road is convince people that they want all six of you in their home for the night.  Often the lovely folks who do agree to house you are lively and like to party and want you in their home to drink and carry on. Which again is great and super nice, but when you drive all day and then work all night, most often you just want to collapse on a floor in a heap of sweat and stink. In Missoula the fellow we stayed with went to our show but then had to go work at his bar where he put on a weekly karaoke night. We needed the floor, but felt pretty weary about meeting him after the show in a dive bar where people would be singing the greatest hits of the 90’s, 80’s and today. Some of us considered just waiting in the van for the dude to come out after he was done, but we sucked it up and went in and felt like collapsing. The good news is that you can turn this feeling around.

After a few beers I was playing pool and singing karaoke (Run Away Train) and having a grand time in Montana with our excellent host and his friends. In fact the bar was pretty cool, and we only had one local meathead give us shit. It’s funny when a lone jock type dude threatens one of us, perhaps not realizing that there are lots of us. I can’t imagine any of us getting into a violent situation, but we do joke about the possibility of us collectively kicking the shit out of one tough guy jerk. The story a bully would be forced to tell his other tough guy goons would be priceless, “Yeah, dude, I got beat up by a bunch of fucking nerds last night.  They were saying some bullshit about some Neutral Milk Hotel or some shit and I shoved one of them and then six of them jumped me! Last thing I remember was one of those fags hitting me with a huge book and saying something about some David Foster Wallace dude or some bullshit, then they all stomped me real good. It was pretty embarrassing bro.”

We were not in Spokane very long. The theater guys seemed terrified of us and our gear. A few very simple requests, like for a example a table to sell merch off of, were each met with hems and haws and nervous forehead sweat followed by mumbles like, “I wasn’t told that this was happening, nobody tells me anything!” The promoter of the show who was also the fellow that booked us seemed to be completely clueless as to what is normally expected of a man in his position. We asked him what sort of turn out he was expecting and he said, “Well…it’s Spokane, so, you know…” but we did not know. He said there was no point in even trying to promote the show, because of a local college game that was happening that night. I don’t know how familiar you all are with Everything Is Terrible, but there is not really much of a crossover between our fans and college sports fanatics. Anyway, I complain simply because I can, and as always the fans that came out were rad. One high school fellow came to the show with 300 Jerry’s. We almost felt bad for encouraging this young fellow to share in our strange addiction, not to mention the fact that the van was already quite full. But we built a pyramid on stage with the bounty, and lifted our super fan/friend up for a round of hip-hip-hoorays at the end of the show. His parents beamed with pride seeing their son hoisted onto the shoulders of giant dogs. Then we asked the audience for a place to stay.

I think maybe people think we are joking when we ask for a place to stay in costume and character. Anyway, nobody spoke up. So we decided to knock out some of the next day’s drive that night until we could find a cheap hotel. We listened to top twenty country radio, because, I don’t know, when in Rome or whatever. We even called to the radio station from the van and all screamed out a request for Red Solo Cup into an answering machine. The very next moment, Toby Keith’s classic blasted through our speakers and we barked and honked our way through the night. That song is terrible or wonderful or both and we are obsessed with it. Like most things, irony stops making sense when you already feel crazy and look into it too much.

At this point we either went to Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia. Crossing the border is always a trick when your van reads “TERRIBLE!” Going into Canada they are concerned that you might try to stay, so if you are a band or us, it’s best to remind the unfriendly border patrol that you have a show back in the states the next day and will not be crashing endlessly in their country like a bad couch surfer house guest that wants free health care. On the other hand, when you go back into America they are for the most part concerned that you might try to blow everyone up or something. Actually I have no idea. I can’t tell what on earth the border patrol is so concerned and grumpy about, because I can’t really relate to angry men who frown at a billion cars everyday while asking, “Where are you coming from, what are you doing, where are you going?” Whatever the hell these guys are protecting us from, I don’t know. All I do know is that we try to make sure we don’t accidentally have a rogue joint in a pocket or on the floor when being examined by the law.

In Vancouver we invited and thought we saw Nardwuar the Human Serviette at our show, but upon further examination it was not Nardwuar. It was Notwuar. The show was great and followed by a giant dance party that nearly killed me with fun. Once I had nearly danced my self to death, the club put us up in a cool band apartment, and we were able to cook ourselves a hot meal, which is much better than a hotel room. We far prefer a stove over a television.

Then came Seattle where we sold out two shows at Central Cinema and an adorable couple built us a dog out of Jerry’s. The one fellow presented us with the awesome Jerry Pooch while his boyfriend pulled out some sweet camera gear to capture our Christmas morning faces. I think I nearly cried. At about this point a nice young lady complimented my Splitsider pieces and I wanted to hug the entire city of Seattle or perhaps live there. That night we used Facebook instead of dogface to try and find some lodging. Two lovely fans put us up, and even bought us some local delicious Russian pastries called piroshky in the morning. We felt like the kings of Seattle.

Traveling gets confusing when in Portland you play at a place called the Hollywood Theater. And though not in California, Hollywood was great to us, and huge and beautiful and they put us up in a five star hotel. Being in a fancy place like that is a trip, but left us feeling a bit out of place. We tried to figure out who was supposed to be tipped, and why they didn’t want us carrying our own bags to the elevator and why dudes our age kept opening the door for us as if we were pretty girls.

There were about 200 people at the show in Portland and it all went very well except for an annoying local news crew. These assholes showed up moments before we were supposed to go on for the already packed theater and demanded to do an interview.  They clearly had no idea who or what we were, and the idiot with the fake face and microphone hated us, insulted our fans and treated us like shit for no apparent reason other than the fact that he didn’t understand what was happening around him. We agreed to do it, even though obviously it was far too late to actually provide us with any promotion for our show, and even though he was obtuse and condescending.

But despite the ridiculously bad local news and humorous looking anchors, Portland was awesome as always. The fans were intense and warm and dressed to kill and the food was some of the best we’ve had on this trip. Hell, even the local news idiots provided us with some material. We headed out to California the next morning after a delicious breakfast. When we made it to Sacramento we had the chance to watch our Portland TV appearance, and decided the spot needed a little editing. With a little help from one of our EIT editors, I think everything turned out just fine.

Sacramento is kind of a long story that involves a dead duck, a heckler, and me getting pretty pissed off. But it’s not all negative. I’m here in Florida right now, getting ready to head out to Orlando, and the van is up and running great! We finally found a mechanic with a steady hand and a heart of gold. Time to keep on moving on.

Brian Kamerer is a writer and a musician and a lover of dogs. See the tour dates here. Read Brian’s fiction here and check out Brian’s music here.

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