Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Spiritualized Part Three: Tales from the Chili Bowl...

Atlanta was cool. Henry from Chunklet showed up with the lone extant copy of the Rock Bible and it provided much backstage hilarity before taking the stage.

After we played I ventured with Henry and his wife to the burrito place next door as we were all starving. The waiter came and asked if any of us had anything to do with the Dirtbombs. Confused, I said yes, I play drums in the band. He then said someone wanted to buy me a drink. I was flattered and later realized it was Ria.

Ria is arguably the biggest Dirtbombs fan in all of Atlanta. She also happens to run her own restaurant, Ria's Bluebird. On two consecutive band visits to town, she cheerily invited us to her restaurant to eat the day after our show and, in her words, enjoy a "free meal."

The first visit was utterly amazing. I ordered a creamy mushroom soup that is still among one of the top five best things I've ever tasted in my life. I gave a spoonful to Ko, she shuddered and immediately ordered a bowl for herself. Next I gave a spoonful to Potter and he did the same. The soup was delightful to the nth degree.

When it came time for the bill, it turned out Ria wasn't there and had left no instructions about feeding a roving band of ruffians from Detroit for free. A simple misunderstanding, we figured, and graciously paid the bill.

Next time in Atlanta, we specifically woke up early on a drive day and all the dudes in the band off to Ria's, again invited and severely wanting to cash in our free meal offer. Delectably succulent, the meal again failed to disappoint. Yet again, Ria was nowhere to be found and we begrudgingly paid our bill.

"What a great way to get people to your restaurant," we hypothesized, "offer them a free meal, then don't be there for them to cash it in." We were only kidding (slightly) but still found it weird that the same thing could happen to us on two occasions.

Anyway, with the drink Ria sent over I hereby declare all meals paid for by the Dirtbombs detached from any resentful feelings and here's hoping for another delicious meal on our next trip to Atlanta.

Spiritualized had some time to kill before their bus call and with help from the Black Lips boys we'd been assured chill space at the Drunken Unicorn. We crammed all the Spiritualized band dudes in our van (making it snug, slightly) and after waiting forever for Jason to stop talking to a fan, motored on down to the club.

The Jacuzzi Boys had just finished their set and I bought a 7" off them even though I hadn't heard them. This is a rule of thumb. If you see a 7" and you have the $5 in your pocket, buy it…ESPECIALLY if you didn’t see them play. This is a common professional courtesy that extends to all touring bands cool enough to be selling vinyl. If you have paid to see the band and were not impressed, you are not obligated to buy anything. But if you have not paid to see them and they are selling 7"s, you have no excuse not to purchase. This rule does not extend to 12"s.

(In furthering the code of the road, when I returned home the Jacuzzi Boys had, without my knowledge, mailed me a copy of another one of their 7"s. I still haven't listened to either yet, but they are already tops in my book)

Catching up with Jared and Cole from the Lips was time well spent. I miss those boys like brothers. I asked Jared if he'd heard any good bands lately and he wisely replied "Whatever In the Red is putting out" followed by the insightful comment "It's cool that us (the Black Lips) and you (the Dirtbombs) and Jay (Reatard) are doing so well that Larry can put out all these other great bands that people haven't heard of yet."

I'd never really considered it that way and suddenly felt an even more-immeasurable amount of pride on being included on the greatest rock and roll record label in America. Granted, the Bombs/Reatard/Lips sales are piddly compared to majors, but it does afford Larry Hardy the flow to be able to foist bands like Cheap Time, Vivian Girls, Devila 666 and AH Kraken on a receptive public that may otherwise be unawares of their existence. Then, if everything goes right, those bands become sellers in their own right and it all becomes a punk rock mobius strip of sustenance benefiting bands that haven't even formed yet (or, in the worst case scenario, holding up the sagging star of bands on their way back down…and this could very well be the Dirtbombs in the near future)

Day off spent driving. I found a publication at a gas station that was nothing but people's mug shots. What a fucking brilliant idea…all your content is public domain, you organize by area, crime, release date, celebrity, bust it out on some cheap newsprint and make a killing at $2 an ish. I'm amazed this has not already become a nationwide phenomenon. If you marketed all the major metropolitan areas in the US alone I think you'd have a goldmine.

Highlights of the mag were a particular criminal named, I shit you not, Marquis Moon and in the "Celebrity" section, a mug of George Clinton that made no mention of his actual name and instead, merely listed him as "Dr. Funkenstein." We laughed like we hadn't a care in the world.

We stopped in Durham, NC and ate at a place called Honey's. Free Wifi notwithstanding, I would not recommend eating there. Meal wasn't particularly bad, it just left us all unimpressed and unsatisfied. Lodging for the night was in Hendersonville, NC and as a night off Pat and I were hoping to finally go catch The Dark Knight.

We checked in around 9pm and I was ecstatic to find that there was a theater just over a mile away where The Dark Knight was showing. And then I was bummed when I found that the final showing of the evening started at 8:45. If that weren't bad enough, the WiFi at whatever mid-level America lodging chain we'd chanced upon that evening (I believe it Super 8, yet don't quote me) easily had the worst wireless signal strength I'd ever encountered.

There was a tiny 4'x4' slab of concrete on the balcony overlooking the front entrance carport where I was able to maintain the slowest 3-bar connection known to man. Move anywhere outside the concrete coffin, including INSIDE the lobby, and the signal was completely unresponsive, like a hooker beat far past her death. The countless number of mosquito bites I endured in order to fully understand the issues in the Kwame scandal was ultimately not worth it.

We arrived well early in DC and the route to the 9:30 Club took us through neighborhoods and sites I'd never seen in town. Of all the big cities in the country, DC is the one I feel like I have the least grasp on. I don't remember neighborhoods or where to hang out or anything that can brighten up time on tour. As it stands, we've never played the same club in the DC area more than once and that hinders one's ability to get a feel for the place.

A surprising percentage of the crowd seemed as if they were there to see us. Body movement was detected, quite possibly even to the extent of dancing. The band was flying so I took the opportunity to pull my drums down onto the main floor for "I Can't Stop Thinking About It."

It was a risky move as we were openers. It could be viewed as in bad form to possibly upstage the headliners. It went over with the crowd amazingly and while it was initially met with a "How are we supposed to go on after that?" from Spiritualized, I think they genuinely enjoyed watching it themselves. Everyone happy? Good.

Post show was a leisurely stroll down to Ben's Chili Bowl. Is there anything that compares to a classic hot dog joint? Overflowing with post-night life hungries? With a sign behind the counter declaring Bill Cosby as the only person entitled to free food there? In short, these are the places I prefer to make my time. While maybe short on the delicacies and gourmet ratings, they abound with ambiance, history and people not breaking the bank to enjoy a meal and the company they're keeping.

Ben's is a place with the utmost of everything I love in an eatery.


Anonymous said...

you just said that 'cause your name is Ben

Anonymous said...

blog is kind of turning into blackwell's culinary tour of america

Clay said...

Glad to see you enjoyed yer visit (again) down to Hotlanta. If yer interested, I could give you the names of some places to try when yer back on the 25th. Until then, keep us wanting more.

Dillon said...

"blog is kind of turning into blackwell's culinary tour of america"

coming to a coffee table near you.