I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to reiterate it until the day I die: the biggest dickpunch that comes along with having kids is the fact that you can pretty much never be happy. When you’re with your kids, they swarm you constantly, demanding and screaming and breaking and making messes and pissing you off and then getting pissed off when (for example) the sandwich that you assembled for them in the tiny sliver of time between when you cleaned up the flour that they spilled all over the kitchen, and when you wiped their ass (all while you’re supposed to be paying bills online) is cut into triangles rather than rectangles. Don’t get me wrong, kids are cool. They’re great, but one of their overwhelming characteristics is that they’ll make you want to get the fuck away from them, if just for a moment. “Oh god,” you’ll find yourself saying, “I would give anything for just ONE KID FREE WEEK, just to, you know, read a book or take a shit without answering questions about dinosaurs the whole time. Jesus, just give me one week without kids and I’ll stop making fun of your robe forever.” BUT, the second you’re away from them, you miss them so terribly, and you think about how much they miss you and it’s heartbreaking and suddenly that dinosaur-free dump isn’t nearly as delightful as you anticipated. You’re kind of sad all the time. It’s the greatest emotional kick in the sack ever perpetrated unto humanity.
I bring this up because on June 17 2012, I was ready to get the fuck away from my kids for a while. This three week run was to be the longest tour I have embarked on since my son was born four years ago, and I was looking forward to some peace and quiet. The fact that I have to go on a goddamned rock and roll tour to find peace and quiet is neither here nor there, but it’s worth pointing out in passing, right? Good.
My buddy Dan is also a dad. He’s also a vaguely dagoish bassist/vocalist in a three piece punk rock band that employs two singers. The plan was that I’d meet him in Ohare airport and we’d set off with our acoustic guitars, a backpack and a roller bag full of shirts and records to cross the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. I was coming from a dog’s birthday party which was being hosted at a bar. Just taking the train out to the airport with all my shit was a giddy thrill that I can’t explain to anyone who’s never been a primary caregiver to small monsters. Literally, just sitting on the fucking subway by myself was more of a good time than I was used to. I am acutely aware of how pathetic that sounds, and believe me, it’s actually more pathetic than you’re even imagining.
Anyway, I got to Ohare and found Dan sitting at a Rick Bayless outpost drinking a fancy margarita and ordering a cubano. I ordered a marg too and we set to work getting stoked for everything. I had managed to score a couple of Xanax for the flight (I’m a shitty flyer and a shitty sleeper and on trans-oceanic flights I really, REALLY appreciate the anti anxiety meds, though I don’t use them at home because I kind of think that too much of that shit turns you into a lame, boring zombie) so we boarded, did a little haggling for seats next to one another, took a Xanax, ordered a beer, took one sip and woke up in London. Well, that’s what I did. I don’t know what Dan did, but I think he managed to stay up long enough to watch a bit of whatever the in-flight movie was.
I woke up with hardened drool all over my face and proceeded to exit the plane and the jetway before realizing that my guitar was still in the closet up by the cockpit. I dazedly salmoned my way back in, grabbed my axe and we proceeded to grabbing our bags with no trouble. We took the train from Heathrow to Camden, alongside this hippy in a full acid washed denim overalls situation holding an acid washed denim mandolin case, where we went to a ‘genuine American diner’ that Dan was already a fan of, where we got ice-free bloody marys, a pair of lonestars and some sandwiches (a lox bagel for me [which came with disturbingly purple pickled onions] and some kind of breakfast burrito situation for Dan) and the price was a breezy 25 pounds, or fifty bucks. Cool. I think I speak for the whole family when I say we’d just like a nice meal at America Town…
Anyway, one of the big notions on this tour was that we were going to try to avoid hotels and stay with people as much as possible in order to save money. This first day we were to stay with an Irish buddy of ours named Steve. Steve is a good dude who is an actor (for you blokes and birds in the UK, he’s in that Olympic commercial about littering) as well as a bartender and he’d set up a tab for us at this bar in Camden. We went to his flat, which was a pretty weird highly Islamic tenement style building with lots of burkas and shit drying on clotheslines, met his incredibly stoned roommate and dropped off our shit then headed out to the bar.
The bar was empty because England was busy getting eliminated from the Euro cup by Italy, so we just kind of hung out and drank until furious blokes started pouring in and giving Dan and I the shiteye. One dude even said “are you two Italians?” to which we said “er, huh? What?” and he said “first Italian I see I’m gonna hit in the face with a fucking brick.” It was lovely.
The night was essentially pretty uneventful besides that. We hung out at that bar, linked up with Steve, walked over to some other bar, had some warm beers, and then passed out in Steve’s bed while Steve, gracious host that he is, took the couch. It bears mentioning that when we went to bed, Steve’s roommates were watching Friends, and when we woke up, they were still watching Friends.
That was the first, but by no means last bed that Dan and I shared on this odyssey. Our first show was in Kingston, so we dusted off our dicks and got set to try and find our way via train. To be honest, I don’t remember what we had for breakfast that day. I’m a goddamn amateur.
Okay, that’s it for today. Tune in tomorrow for such exciting vignettes as “meeting Sam Russo” “hot bartender at the weird pub” “Oh shit! The records that Mike Park sent went to the wrong address”, “what’s this thing on the head of my penis” and more.