From Saskatoon to Calgary. If memory serves the roads were uneventful and boring.
Someone yelled out "Telegram Sam" during the Sartain set and again, although we'd never even played it together, Dan wholeheartedly jumped into the song and I was left to try and follow.
I actually dig this approach…the "there's-only-two-of-us, how-hard-could-it-be-to-figure-out-we'll-just-do-it-on-stage" tactic that I've come to know and love from the White Stripes makes loosey goosey a positive trait and keeps everyone on their toes. When you finish a song, you're left with a sensational feeling that can only be described (weakly) as "well shit, we got through that, we can do anything." I believe the Germans have a word for it.
From Calgary that night to Red Deer where another booking foul-up (but of course, the hotel's fault) puts Pat, Dan and I in a smoking room with one queen-sized bed and one pull-out couch, a room that was supposed to have two full-size beds, mind you.
So being the understanding hoteliers that that are, the good folks at the Red Deer Best Western (an establishment curiously sans waterslide) just tossed in an extra single room at no extra charge. As we sat paralyzed at the ability to make a decision on who should get the room, tour manager Dorien declared that I, the non-smoker, should be the one.
I guess Mick and Troy were put in the same room set-up (one pull-out, one queen) when they too were promised two fulls and a pull-out. Troy was peeved about being stuck with the bitch bed and while going to the front desk for an Internet cable encountered the lady at the front desk offers him keys to the free room she'd just promised.
Troy is not expecting this and is geeked…only to find out that the room was actually meant for me, coming from the space previously cluttered by three dudes total. Needless to say, he was a little bummed when this was relayed to him.
So as slide the key card and open the door to my own private Idaho, imagine the amazement and utter confusion of seeing two full-size beds inside. Weird. It also put me in an awkward predicament. Do I just keep the room and not say a thing? Or do I call Troy and say there's a bed downstairs with your name on it, let's shack up and gossip all night long and leave Mick and his fursuits alone?
It was a tough decision and I though all of, oh, zero seconds before I settled on keeping the pad for myself and enjoying some Ben time.
After blogging my balls out, I took to slumbering and found myself perturbed by the itsy-bitsy sliver of space spewing light from between the curtains. This is, by far, my biggest hotel pet peeve…worse than non-existant "Do Not Disturb" signs, worse than clocks not set to the correct time, worse than a room having only one electrical outlet strategically placed on the ceiling and even worse yet than a shower head that comes up to my neck.
No, easily the worst offense a room of lodging can make is having a set of curtains that just don't meet all the way. Because that slice of light is going make your room look like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark come sun-up and that unexpected awakening and unavailable return to REM alone will ruin your day.
So I climb on top of a chair to fix this fiasco…lobby call the next day isn't until 3pm and I want to make the most of my sleepy time. After tugging a bit and twisting to having the drapes kinda folded over each other where they met, I put an ever-so-slight amount of pressure on the curtain rod and without warning, pulled the fucking thing out of the wall.
My immediate verbal reaction was "Aw hell naw!"
So instead of remedying the situation, I'd just amplified it's severity, now only enjoying the services of half a curtain, in my underwear in front of a window overlooking the Canadian highway at some bullshit hour like 5:30am.
First things first, I put on a pair of shorts…I ain't letting any overzealous Canuck paparazzo's snag the million-loonie shot because of some malfunctioning shades. Second, I completely removed the secondary, see-through, gauze-like curtain that serves no fucking purpose whatsoever and threw that shit on the floor. Now with the vacant attachments from the gauze poseurs, I hooked the actual functioning curtains up without a problem and gave myself a pat on the back for such quick and effective solution. (All those years missing Silent Reading once a week at St. Clare for the Michigan Future Problem Solvers have now finally paid off)
For the first time in Edmonton we weren't playing the New City Likwid Lounge and instead, were playing the club exactly one block away that looked exactly like New City on the inside. So take that! Free time spent talking to hardcore White Stripes collectorate and having a decent Asian meal.
We'd spend the night in Red Deer again and I again was privy to my own room. As we checked out the next morning, an older female employee of the hotel said she just had to ask what kind of music we played. After we all replied "rock and roll" in sing-songy unison, she made a disappointed face and told us she had guessed otherwise.
When we asked her what music she thought we played, she sheepishly replied "jazz" to which, I must admit, it was a little hard not busting out and laughing at right away. Mick maybe…but Ko? Or me? Jazz? We do share a common understanding of the word "jazz" here, right Canada?
Between Edmonton and Vancouver we had a day off to make the moosetacular drive. It's at this point where the scenery becomes noteworthy…the Canadian Rockies are picturesque and, at moments, breathtaking.
Everyone was looking forward to our planned downtime in Banff, if only for an excuse to repeatedly say the word "Banff." Come on, just let that silky smooth Canadian city just roll off your tongue and say it with me…Banff. Don't you feel better? I know I do.
So while it is kind of a high-end ski resort town, there's still some cool shit to dig on. Bang-On iron-on store has Dirtbombs Blackula t-shirt transfers available and there's enough neon designer t-shirt/$800 sunglasses/graffiti bathing suit/faux urban sneaker peddlers to keep you laughing for hours on end. Add to that the high-end fossil shop (with some shit as high as $75,000) and the weird overabundance of sunlight (creepy!) and the whole time in town was a relative blast.
I managed to finally find some reusable plastic cutlery at a camping supply store, a trio of bright orange bits handily kept together on a harbinger and a relative steal for $5. This would make late-night snacking a thing of ease for the rest of the tour. I was hoping for a decent pair of Lou Reed-worthy black wraparound shades circa 1967, but no such luck.
All seven of us met up for a group meal at an upstairs Japanese restaurant, one of them real deal things where you take off your shoes and sit at the sunken tables. The entire experience there was so pleasant, relaxing and delicious that it totally saved the day. Those low tables made me just stretch out and try to catch some z's, to which I was told by the rest of the band that it wasn't "proper Japanese custom for burly American to take nap at table after meal." It's nice to learn something new every day.
At some charming pee break b/n Banff and Rogers Pass, we noticed an empty children's playground within sprinting distance of the piss house. With no trouble mustering energy on a day off, I galloped on over, trucked down the slide, tried the monkey bars I was too tall for and then made my way to the nearby stream to go skip rocks. Had Tom Sawyer shown up, I'd be painting that picket fence with his blood…that's just how wholesomely badass I was rolling.
Long drive the next day to Vancouver, arrive at the club just in time for soundcheck and it's even cooler when we can delay it a few minutes to watch some of the Red Wings game. We'd play pretty solid…even before the encore we'd gotten all kinds of goofy and sloppy, me and Troy wrasslin' around, falling offstage and taking a monitor with us while getting gently sprayed with beer. I couldn't believe that the monitor fell and didn't kill anyone, least of all Troy or I who were both essentially in its flight path.
I also think Vancouver was the first town I pulled out singing "Dance This Mess Around" in earnest during the breakdown in our "Kung Fu" encore. The crowd ate it up. After show merch table praise (was this where the pin sets and bottle openers showed up?) was at an all-time high, letting us know that we got the job done. Talks of hitting a bar or club later dissipated when I got to the hotel and realized I'd rather just sleep…but I'm told Troy totally slayed at karaoke at the hotel bar.