Monday, September 20, 2004

once upon a time in a city down south or
the adventures of leon and lorn in austin, texas

prologue- go on, live a little

Leaving Dallas at 4 on a Saturday with no tickets, no place to stay, and only a vague idea of the events that will happen in a city I've never been to in a state I barely know with someone I am hardly more than familiar with could normally make me more than a little nervous, nay, let's go with "skeptical." But I'm feeling frisky, verging on broke, and fatalistic in the sense that life's only going to get interesting when you come out swinging.

chapter one- the seedy roadside motel

An uneventful car ride down, three hours and we're in Austin, capital city of Texas. Austin apparently is cool enough to make people shit their pants when they talk to you about it- and everyone who's been to both Austin and Madison tells me the similarities abound. Capital city, college town- Austin's bigger than Madison, or at least it has more tall buildings, but it's gorgeous. The campus of UT is a city in its own right. I kept thinking about Pamie and her book, and how I was right there in the thick of it all. The Tiny Wooden Hand story, written here!

The first obstacle accomplished- we scored our tickets for Sunday's shennanigans right off the bat by performing a feat of vehicular manuevering such as Texas has never seen. Ahem. I mean, I dropped Leon off and drove around in circles until he called me to come pick him up again. Tickets secured, the next task was finding a suitable location to sleep. Back up the highway we go, scouring the Red Roof Inns and Motel 6s for good deals, when Leon spots a nearly invisible little place by the name of the Deluxe Inn, rooms $26. The kind of place for steamy office romances, a bed, a dresser, the inescapable aroma of cigarettes.

The walls needed paint, but no matter. Lots of walls need paint, right? The bed appeared clean, and I could only hope it didn't contain the rotting remains of a dead prostitute, Four Rooms style. In the bathtub, behind the ripped curtain, where a series of stains that may or may not have been blood. It's hard to tell really, but it doesn't make showering pleasant when you're speculated about who's attempted suicide beneath your naked butt.

I called my parents, who attended the Badger game festivities in Tucson. The Badgers pulled off a win, and despite torrential downpour and inclement weather invading the sanctity of their hotel room, they appeared to be having a good time (trans= drinking). While my mom and I were talking, Leon got stuck in the bathroom. Suddenly the walls are shaking, the door is banging, and as I get up to see if I can help, Leon comes barrelling out of the bathroom in his birthday suit (a towel stragetically placed). My mom wants to know what's going on, but I can't stop laughing. Some things are better left unsaid, yes?

chapter two- mingo fishtrap (alternately, save leon from old dancing ladies!)

Freshened up and eager to leave the Casa de Ashtray, we head downtown. Leon's got the info on a funk band, Mingo Fishtrap, playing at a hip little bar in the Warehouse district. What I mean by hip is that this place was--cool. It was a fucking rad bar. Coupla beers, a piece of pizza, suddenly I am in the best fucking mood of my life. I mean, seratonin is kicking in like you would not believe. I could close my eyes for a second and pretend it's freshman year and I'm hearing Youngblood for the first time on the Terrace, with my new incredibly awesome friends, bumming beer off of Brandon and Ian and whoever else I can find, but I don't have to. This is good enough. I can buy my own beer now.

Mingo Fishtrap is a serious musical force.

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ on a motherfucking bicycle.

I mean, when I referenced Youngblood before, that this is the kind of band that knows how to turn it up, turn you on, and keep it there long into the night. This is a band.

So check 'em out already.

There's dancing, there's handwaving and shouting of "yeah!" and "fuck, yeah!" and "woooo!!" and everytime I wander off to the bathroom (where I had some quality bathroom line conversations, like you do) I come back to the place I left which is now absent of Leon. I spend an equal amount of time continuing to dance and scanning the crowd for the man with the car keys (flashbacks, anyone? Adam?), before I find him, usually hiding away in some corner of the crowd. Turns out these older ladies want to dance with him, and he keeps bailing.

Safely back at the Ashtray, there's passing out action (well, for me, only a fraction of the time I want to spend sleeping is actually spent in slumber- my insomnia kicks in again. Plus, barf barf barf this room smells bad). An evening well spent!

chapter three- let the games begin

Sunday, the official day. Cake day! But we arrive at the Festival at 11:30, and Cake isn't on until 7:45, so there's time for adventure in between.

First act we saw: Rachel Yamagata. Pretty cool- very talented lady, and great songs. At times a little overly rueful, obsessed with broken relationships for my taste, but all in all, good show.

It was easy enough to stay at that stage and edge forward ever so, because up next: The Roots.

We preceded the show with a conversation on just how one would pronounce ?uestlove (do you ascend for the question mark at the beginning or end? Is the whole thing a question, or just the first syllable?) but once they got on stage, there's no talking, only yelling. A quality show.

I caught a little bit of Elvis Costello, but I was too tired and hurting too badly to stand in the sun so I went to a nearby tree and listened to him from the shade. I even took a brief nap. It was perfect. Went back to the stage I left Leon at so we could meet up again and get ready for the real deal.

chapter four- nameless boy, i totally love you

Packing in the crowd for CAKE was an adventure in itself, but Cake fans are good fans and everyone around us was super cool. We were fairly close- maybe 200 feet back- I could see what I needed to see. There was a big screen as well. The family sitting in front of us was pretty funny, what appeared to be three generations of pot smoking Cake fans. Behind us we saw some Badger hats, word. Next to me, fighting his way in from the boundaries of the crowd, appears a beautiful boy- well, man I should say, as his wristband declared that he was old enough to partake of adult beverages- replete in the splendor of a Run Against Bush tshirt and Rivers Cuomo glasses. Dark hair, fan-fucking-tastic smile. I asked him about his shirt and he explained. I asked him if he'd ever seen Cake and he said no, to which I replied, they put on a good show. "So I've heard" he banters. I ask him if he goes to school in Austin, he says no, he lives in DC (swift knife to the heart!), he's visiting. Oh, says I. "I was in DC, for the March for Women's Lives" "The largest march on the mall in history!" He didn't go, but he meant to (whatever that means), but had a friend that marched next to Gloria Steinem.

Tally of beautiful nameless man goes as follows:
1)That indie/nerd chic look backed up by genuine good looks, bonus
3)Cake fan
5)Let me take a hit off his bong, even though I'm not much of a smoker and I always seem to do it wrong, however that works, but I took it anyway because he was beautiful and he was offering me something he'd put his lips on, damn.
6)Sense of humor includes poking fun at the group of 13 year olds in front of us bumming pot off of everyone. And then having their own, oddly. "Maybe it's oregano." Yeah.

The only bad side is, he lives in DC, and I don't know his name. Why the fuck didn't I ask him his name? I mean, I helped him pop his CAKE cherry, for crying out loud. I guess I didn't because I was hoping he'd be from Texas, and if he had been, I would have been after that shit more aggressively.

So, if you're the nameless boy described above, and you remember me, and weren't turned off by my state of sunburn, smelly sweatiness, unconvincing attempt at flawless skin, and the fact that, unlike the majority of women there, I was not in a condition of relative undress, I just want you to know that you are just the cat's pajamas, and I would at least like to know your name.


Cake put on the fabulous show you can expect from them, of course. I can't describe how much I love them, but I'm not going to sully my memory with words. The songs are stuck in my head, a portion of it is preserved below, and all is well. Travel back to Dallas was mildly uneventful except for a brief incident at a McDonalds in Temple, Texas. My throat hurts and I'm exhausted, but I had the most unbelievable good time this weekend. Do you know what life is really about? The secret to life is- live music, outdoors, sweating in the sunshine, dancing with friends, and meeting the people around you. That's all there really is, it's all you really need.