More weird Crusher Confessions tour memories to make you say, “huh?”
We had a show at Real Art (a way cool DIY all ages art space with a screen printing shop inside.
Right at the first band starts, we head in to support. A strange guest follows us, breaking free from his master, loping through the front door, through the crowd. This magnificently wild pit bull leaps onto the stage as Garbage Type Items scratch out their loud, melodic punk rock noise. Soon, the dog is howling earnestly from the stage - positioned between the bass player and guitarist - and everyone else ends up doubled up with laugher, howling too. The dog seems so serious.
Later, a guy in a hot dog costume joins the fun. Because ... why the hell wouldn’t that happen in Tacoma on a Saturday night? This was a head-to-toe hot dog costume; you couldn’t even see his face. A full coverage hot dog! He sometimes dances wildly, sometimes sulks, sitting on the stage while the bands do their thing. No one could have expected it! We slow dance a bit during the Slutty Hearts’ fabulous set. I secretly wish every show would come with at least one randomly costumed person. It made us feel so at ease. Even the teenagers were swinging their hips and getting into the groove.
The merch girl from The Morning After (check them out – they are entertainers in the highest degree) has brought a plastic vagina and is getting photos of everyone holding it. I am wearing my Crushers cheer leading outfit, completing the whole “high school sex ed pep rally” vibe. I dont know if that pic made it onto the internet, but I sincerely hope so.
It’s late and we are sweaty and tired.
We head to Taco Bell after the gig to get the inevitable crappy road fuel, because that’s all we can find open in this part of Tacoma (read: we are a lonnnnnnnnnng way from the burbs, so even some crap like Denny’s is off the table). While in the drive-through line, Gabriel sees a car speed directly into the wall of a neighboring business. Like, right next to us. It’s LOUD. The vehicle instantly crumples. Gabriel is sitting in the front passenger side, and I’m in the back when it happens.
The impact is so earth-shattering it shakes Reid from his intense study of the Taco Bell late night menu. It sounds sort of like a bomb, I swear the van shook. A few micro seconds later, like something out of COPS, four squad cars pile up behind the driver, sirens squealing. By then, we’ve already watched the guy exit the vehicle, hike up his pants (very COPS), and scale a fence. See ya later, suckas! He’s long, long gone. Tacoma, you are strange indeed!
Newly awake thanks this incredibly weird turn of events, we meet up with Slutty Hearts at their room at a fine nearby Econolodge. Slutty Hearts are good people and an excellent band (find their tunes on bandcamp and you will see what I mean). However, we are probably a little more squeaky clean than these city folk. They are excited about the fact that it is a smoking room, but Reid is a little less excited. I guess we really are “California.” I did crave kale for a large portion of the trip. I do find it strange that there is a four burner stove inside the hotel room.
We head next door to the hotel Chinese food restaurant/karaoke bar, where the weirdest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in one room are assembled. Tacoma is far more diverse than our little SLO bubble, and that is always a good thing.
A very large woman sings a soulful tune to me while giving me what I can only describe as “a slow motion lap dance through peanut butter.” Marissa of Slutty Hearts and I sing “Fist City” by Loretta Lynn, and I’m so grateful to have found someone who shares my taste for campy classic country. She’s a far better singer than I, which makes for a good duet. It’s like X. She’s John Doe and I’m totally Exene.
The bartender - who is constantly twitching - announces to the crowd, “This guy right here just bought the whole bar a shot of Hennessey!” Hennessey is pretty gross, but I’ve never had this happen to me before. It seems like something that happens in a really cool saloon in a movie, not at a hotel bar attached to a Chinese restaurant with pastel walls and bad lighting.
Weird side note: I had just read that North Korea’s Kim “Little Rocket Man” Jong Un has an $100,000 a year Hennessey habit, and that feels poignant at this moment, where every news report seems to inch us closer and closer toward WWIII.
It appears that everyone at the bar is doing jell-O shots of this neon blue substance, too ... so, this could get weirder.
The drug use appears to be quite strong here in this part of Tacoma, and Gabriel says he walked into the flooded bathroom only to find that this dude and another guy—we later named him “Bubba”—a massive white dude in overalls with a southern slur—attempting to take his pants off so he can “go swimming.”
A probably rather coked out dude who fancies himself the next Kanye West has decided to give us record producing advice and even tells us he can get us on the fair circuit in Washington, which actually wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t giving us such a hard, hard sell.
He is telling everyone how many Instagram followers he has, and it turns out he actually is internet famous, but he also hasn’t quit his day job just yet (phone sales). I should say that he was super talented and even performed some of his own raps on the karaoke mic (it is pretty obvious he knows the karaoke lady very well, and I can’t decide if this is sweet or sad).
All I know is when he shifts straight into “This is How We Do it” by Montell Jordan, we’re all on our feet dancing and singing and clinking. We close down the Chinese restaurant, and I have to say it feels good to play cards till 3 in the morning in a smoking room.
It just doesn’t feel good in the morning. I swear, I smell like a vegas urinal cake with a musky dash of Henney.
Maybe it’s all the old punk rock tales about how great this town was “back in the day,” or the fact that we want to believe that mythical, artistic outposts still exist, but we had unrealistic expectations of Olympia. For that, I am sorry.
Olympia is not welcoming and it is not interested in being cool. Olympia is: public boxes for used drug needles in every public restroom. It’s pirate punks spanging on every corner. It’s storefront after storefront packed ceiling high with thrift junk. It’s bleak government buildings with a few patches of well-kept lawn interspersed among the rubble.
If you ask me, Olympia has one good thing going for it: It has NOT been gentrified. No, sir.
Not even a teeny tiny bit. There is arguably ONE fancy third wave coffee joint downtown, and it looks as if it has been delivered by an alien from another planet. Dropped off in a bad part of town, with mustachioed baristas left to fend for themselves.
Olympia hasn’t been hugged since the mid-80s. Everything’s boarded up, dingy, and downtrodden. As one local put it: “The younger brothers and sisters of those initial punk rock idealists grew up and took over the town, and they’re more into video games and robbing you than changing the world.”
We walk into a thrift store called “Dumpster Values,” right downtown. Immediately, the gal at the register stops us. “Didn’t you see the police tape outside?” We look at her like, WTF? She continues: “Someone drove their car through the wall last night.” Shrug.
We walk outside and turn the corner and come face to face with the wreckage. The wreckage that is Olympia! Two for Two!
We walk into this craft beer place and notice there’s a local trivia night going on. Reid decides he is just bored enough to make friends (normally he’s not Mr. fuzzy friendly). So, he goes up to a random table and asks if we can join their group. Turns out half the team is from Germany and the other half is from Canada. The trivia is all US stuff. So, it is safe to say that we took “Team Traveling Hobos” from the dregs to the top of the competition. That was the name they chose, not us. Just turns out that the name fits us perfectly, as we are traveling by van, sleeping where we can, showering at whatever campground we can find.
The local Elks lodge in Eugene is rude to us, so we leave. Not at all like the friendly folks in Ashland, who offer us free beers just to hang out with the lonely bartender, or Redding, where they have a live country band and epic T shaped pool with a diving board next to the river! We end up spending the night in the parking lot of a massive church instead. In the morning, we realize it’s actually a compound - the biggest church compound we’ve ever seen in our lives. It gives us the creeps. Reid doesn't sleep due to his fear of churches. We high tail it out of there as fast as we can.
Bellingham is the kind of town you don’t date. You marry it. Not far from the Canadian border and about an hour and a half north of Seattle, its town motto is “The town of subdued excitement.” That would be enough to turn me off, but it has this way of getting inside your heart, all leafy trees and lapping waters and independently owned shops. This is not a shrinking violet kind of town, but it is almost oppressively pleasant. We see some guys hanging out in front of a local arts space (the MakeShift) I had heard about.
They are closing up, but they guys offer to give us a tour anyway. One of them turns out to be our sound man for later in the night. See, we are close enough to Canada that people are nice, but not so nice that they’re scared of strangers. Downstairs there’s a massive basement for band rehearsals and DIY performances. The Shakedown (our show for the night) is just as cool; connected to a cute little bar/restaurant that feels like an old soda shop.
The venue itself has just finished up a psychedelic 60s dance night, so there’s smiley faces and neon flowers all over the place, and even lava lamps. The boys are stoked on the pinball selection, which includes the coveted Metallica pinball Gabe has been searching for.
Bubble wands and bubble guns are on the tables left over from the dance night, too, and even though the show is small with not too many people, the bubbles and the energy of the bands make it worth it. We particularly like Vellichor, helmed by a gal I can only describe best as “Daria with a guitar.”
And now, a word from Reid Cain (aka Dr. Crusher). I asked him if he had some final thoughts about our Crusher Confessions Tour.
This is what he said.
Reid: All the God Damn days blend together out there. Everyday is another quest for cheap food that doesn’t suck and instagram posts of each other in the van. Somewhere out there on a cold night in Washington or Oregon we had no crash pad and no blankets for the poor little drummer boy (I don’t remember why) and we had to go to God Damned Walmart because it was the only thing open in at 11pm on a whatever day it was. I haven’t been to a God Damned Walmart in seriously like 18 years due to their labor practices, importing, and being a super fucking evil corporation. The last time I was on one was one of these downtown killing shithole palace of garbage was 1999 in Glenwood Springs Colorado. I remember because I was pissed my dad wanted to get some batteries there while I was there visiting. Old people don’t care about the evils of God Damned Walmart or they are evil, I don’t know. My Dad is nice though. Hi Dad! Anyway here in Washington or Oregon we needed warm shit to keep the drummer from dying while sleeping in the van on the fold out floor. We enter the God Damned Walmart and it’s just like that websitte “People of Walmart.” FUCK! We walk around in what I have to assume is the largest God Damned Walmart in the world. We are soon lost, Walmarting is apparently a bit challenging for us. We end up in the Halloween isle (in September) trying on hilarious masks and scaring the locals shopping for beer and diapers at 11pm on a who knows what night. Eventually we end up buying some little fleece blankets with dogs on them (probably for dogs) and a little one man inflatable air camping mattress thingyd made in America. Just kidding, nothing is made in America if it’s in God Damned Walmart. The dog blankets are $2.99 each and the air mattress thing is like $39.99 so hopefully we didn’t enslave too many more children. Anyway, we drove out to some campsite to sleep it off only to learn that Gabriel lied about his snoring. He snored quite a bit. The End. Fuck you God Damned Walmart! Hope to not see you in another 17 years.
This is Hayley again. Don’t you love Reid’s use of the word “Walmarting?” He seriously just made that up.
I must add: The snoring was OK because Gabe slept on the narrow floor of the van between the cockpit and the backseat, in the shivering cold until he wrapped one dog blanket around his head like a turban. He slept with his hands crossed over his chest and looked like something between Dracula and an entombed Pharaoh.
That’s tour living, in style!