Wednesday, May 1, 2013


The El Paso show ran late. Add that to the fact that it was a Saturday night, and by the time we left Taco Cabana, it was around two o’clock in the morning. Since I had driven the night before, it was my turn to sleep and Clint was ready to drive. Albuquerque was three and a half hours away, so we figured we’d get there with a little time to sleep in the van before the sun got high enough to make that impossible. Seemed like an easy enough drive, but there was one catch.

Everyone in El Paso, at various times through the night when they learned where we were headed next, told us to be extra careful on the drive through New Mexico. They said we had to drive through a town called, I kid you not, Truth or Consequences and that the town was the inspiration behind the movie Nothing But Trouble. In the movie, Chevy Chase runs a stop sign, gets arrested and detained in a junkyard prison. Apparently, this is really what it was like. They said that the road turns into a two lane highway that runs right through town, and that there’s cops waiting at every turn. They’ve got nothing better to do than pull people over for even going 2 miles over the speed limit. Another kid told us that the town itself is just a haven for degenerate drug addicts, and the way they support their habit is by hiding on the side of the highway, and waiting for passing vehicles. Once one gets close enough, they would throw bottles, cans, whatever they could find on the road to make the driver stop. Once they did, they would be ambushed and robbed.

Sounded like an old wives tale, but we were still half nervous/half excited to find out if they were telling the truth.

As we got in the van, I hung up front and gave Clint directions. “Right outside El Paso, look for the 25 North. That will take us all the way up to Albuquerque. It shouldn’t take long.” With that, I climbed on to the third bench, the best spot in the van, and immediately fell asleep.

When I woke up, we were pulled off to the side of the road and the dome light up front was on. I looked at my phone and the time was 4:52 am. I went up front and asked Clint what was going on. Then I noticed a highway sign that read 10 East a little ways ahead.

“I missed the 25.” Clint said, “And I think I missed it a while ago.”
“It’s like 15 miles outside of El Paso.”
“Then I missed it by about 100 miles. We’re about 80 miles from the Arizona border.”
“Fuck,” I said, “so we haven’t gone through Truth or Consequences yet?”
“Well, turn around. I’m going back to sleep.”

A couple of hours later we pulled over again because Clint was too tired to keep driving. Austin took over and I fell back asleep. At about 8:30 in the morning we pulled up in front of some building and parked. I sat up, still tired but awake, and asked if we had driven through Truth or Consequences. Austin told me we had, and that he didn’t see a single person or car the whole way through and should be glad I slept and missed it. It took us 7 hours to make a drive that should have been 3 at the most. The day was off to a good start.

It was too hot to sleep, so we got out of the van and proceeded to take part in our usual tour routine: Coffee shops, Whole Foods, K-Mart and the mall. We did find one area that had a bunch of little shops and whatnot, so we parked the van and walked around. We spotted a health food store and as we cut across towards it, a lady sitting at an outside table of the restaurant next to it started shouting, “Hey! Hey! I know you guys! You’re the guys that are playing tonight!”

We figured she was either making it up or had us confused, so we just said yes and continued into the store. “I want to talk to you about something when you come back out.”

We took care of business and left. Sure enough, she was waiting for us to come out and when we did, her first words were “I’ll pay you more to play at my club.”

Confused, we asked her what the hell she was talking about, because she obviously had no idea who we were.

“You guys are the fire dancers, right? The ones playing at (insert ridiculous club name) tonight? Because I own a gay club called (insert equally ridiculous, but more flamboyant club name) just up the street, and I think you guys would do much better there.”

We all looked at each other, then spent five minutes trying to convince some lady that we were neither gay nor fire dancers and that we had no intention of taking her up on her offer, not just playing hardball to get more money.

At one point she did say, “If you’re not the fire dancers, why are you all dressed the same?”

We all looked at each other again, even more confused. Each of us was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, most of which were black. But we weren’t dressed exactly the same, so that statement confused us.

Still not convinced that we weren’t gay fire dancers, she finally gave up and let us go. We walked away and started talking about how awesome it would have been to just say yes, ask for half the money up front and just never show up. She wouldn’t have known. But of course we didn’t think of that until the opportunity had passed.

 Punk Rock Matt had taken an interest in magic when we met Richard the Adequate on the streets of Orlando, so when we passed a magic shop he had to go in and learn a few tricks. Once back outside, he refused to show us anything he learned because he was afraid we’d give him shit. It’s true, we did then and we still do now. But he’s getting better at it, so we’re equally impressed as we are skeptical.

Around 6, we found the venue and hung out in the parking lot until the show started. We had jumped on tour with Winds of Plague and A Love Ends Suicide in Alabama, and told we were on all the shows. But no one had informed most of the club owners or promoters of that fact, so this was another case of us showing up and having to plead our case to get us on the show. The promoter said he couldn’t promise us any money, but we could play and sell merch and if he had any left over, he’d do what he could. We said fine, set up and played. It was a small show, but a few kids were into it, and that’s what it’s all about.

After the show, as I was sitting in the van ready to go, Austin came out and asked if I’d seen the microphone. I told him that I hadn’t, and that Bill brings his own mic and never uses the club’s. He said he knew that, but the promoter was accusing us of stealing his, and that if we didn’t find it, not only was he not going to pay us, but he was going to take $150 off whatever he was going to pay the other two bands. We were furious. Bill told him that he took their mic off, set it on the stage and used his and that was the last he ever saw of it. Austin argued with the promoter, Bill and Clint looked all around the venue and I took everything out of the trailer to prove to him that we didn’t take it. After 15 minutes of arguing, we got in the van to leave when the promoter stopped us. He and Austin talked, and he decided that we didn’t take it, apologized and gave us $45 for gas.

Still upset, we drove off in silence until all of a sudden Clint started laughing hysterically and said, “Are you fucking serious?”

I turned around from the passenger seat and saw Bill holding two microphones, his own and the one from the club.

“I didn’t realize I had it.”

It was in his fucking pocket. The whole time. He checked everywhere inside the venue, I checked the whole van and trailer, Austin argued that we weren’t fucking thieves, and the whole time, it was right in his goddamn pocket.

The mood lightened up after that and we started on our drive to Phoenix. Austin drove while I rode shotgun, and a few hours into the drive, I dozed off. I woke up when I heard Austin say, “Oh fuck.”

My eyes snapped open, I looked at him and he said, “We’re out of gas.”

“Are we all the way out, or did the fuel light just come on”
“We’re out. We’re coasting. And I passed a gas station like 5 or 10 miles ago.”

We both watched as the speedometer plummeted at a fairly rapid pace, and we went slower and slower. At about 8 mph, the road broke and we started rolling down hill and the needle began climbing higher. About that time we passed a sign for gas 1 mile away. Austin and I felt relieved, and we made it all the way up to 35 as we approached the off-ramp. We could see the gas station just to the right of the exit, but the problem was that it was up a small hill. We figured we could make it, so Austin got as far to the left as possible and was just going to use the momentum to make a wide turn and hopefully have just enough power to make it. As we got closer, we looked to make sure it was clear, but it wasn’t. The only car on the road was a huge semi truck coming up from our left, going just slow enough that it was timed to pass us the second we hit the end of the ramp. Austin held out as long as possible, but still had to brake at the end. We lost all momentum came to a dead stop at the bottom of the driveway of a gas station that was closed.

The pumps still worked, but there was no one around to help, so we were on our own. Six vegan kids pushing a van and trailer up a hill isn’t as easy as it sounds. It took all our energy, and we had to let it roll across the road in order to get a good running start, but after 15 minutes of trying we finally made it and filled up.

We pulled out of the gas station and headed down the hill to the freeway entrance, when we all saw the same thing. There, to the left of the freeway off-ramp and down hill, was an open gas station 30 cents a gallon cheaper.

“Well fuck,” I said, ”at least we can get drinks.”

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