Sept. 20, 2004 – Omaha, NE to Wichita, KS
Today we left our beautiful hotel in Omaha and drove to Kansas City so Jarico could deposit our Omaha Tour de Fat performance check in his account, since his deadbeat roomate didn’t cover his part of the rent on the Cyclecide headquarters.
We were headed to Santa Fe for a midweek show at the Warehouse 21 Youth Center before our Tour de Fat date this coming Saturday in Durango, but the show got re-booked for sometime in November on our way back West.
Everyone was tired and docile during the drive out of Nebraska, as for the third night in a row, many of us stayed up until the wee hours of the morning drinking cocktails and having a TV party in the rooms. (Hotel rooms! Fancy!)
The Shoo Shoo cruised down a highway flanked by cornfields and green grass, with red barns and black cows and white grain elevators peppering the Midwest landscape like quaint oases of Americana in a strip-mall desert.
Koit told us the dust from harvested corn is just as volatile as dynamite when it’s floating around in the grain elevator during the corn-drying process, and sometimes a spark from a dryer fan ignites it and causes an explosion that blows a big hole in the cement wall.
When Koit was in high school in Iowa, one of the town’s grain workers, a friend of his dad’s, was walking out the door just as some dust detonated, and all his skin got melted off his body. Two other people died in that explosion. Conclusion? Farming is serious business.
We pulled up to the Bank of Murka in Kansas City, MO — quite a pretty town, from what we could see from the bus window, and we hear it was the original gateway to the Wild West — and we sat chatting in the bus while Jarico transacted his biz. Our compu-tore found a Wifi antenna in some nearby office building and we lounged in the back of the bus, waving at gawking passersby and surfing the Internet for celebrity gossip.
Across the street, in an uneven parking lot, we noticed a dirty pigeon walking in tiny little circles, turning and turning and turning counter-clockwise, occasionally rolling over like a dog when the wind blew it down, spreading its wings out, lying on its back, looking up at the sky, falling over some more, and righting itself in order to pace its teeny invisible racetrack again.
Occasionally, the pigeon would pause to peck at the ground, sometimes resting its beak on the pavement for a few minutes with its wobbly feathered ass in the air when it got the spins, then standing back upright to circle some more.
This street-bird, we realized, was most likely on crack. It kept angling for the white rocks during peckage. Maybe it found a stray rock from a strung-out, blue-lipped fumbler’s vial, and now it was channeling Chris Rock in New Jack City.
We felt guilty about how funny it was. But playing in a dirty pigeon coop caused Mom to go partially blind in one eye when she was a tot, so we were raised with a bias. Rats of the sky, pigeons are.
You know you’re a hobo when a cracked-out pigeon serves as your primary entertainment for the day. (Don’t let’s think about how the pigeon was likely poisoned by the city or some unwitting human’s toxic litter.)
You also know you’re a hobo when you figure out you’re in a State in the Union that doesn’t sell alcohol in the stores on Sunday (crime!), so your group’s choice of cocktail for the evening is: Two parts ice in the hotel ice bucket, one part water, the last bit of the gin off the bus, and three scoops of powdered lemonade, served in personalized Tupperware cups with everyone’s name written on the side in Sharpie.
And you know you’re a hobo when you and your girlfriends go thrifting in downtown Omaha, accidentally walk through the drug-and-crime-infested part of town (again), encounter an empty liquor bottle on the ground, and think before you can catch yourself: I wonder if there’s anything in that?
Back in Nevada a few days ago, when we got to Wendover at the border right before Utah where things get a lot less lawless and the beer turns to 3.2%, we went to the gorgeously garish and blinky Rainbow Casino for a last shot of Nevada-ry (a pre-Mormonlandia place we like to call “Bendover the Rainbow”).
As we were walking in, four greasy, nappy-headed, soot-covered tweakers on their way out of the place were all “Heyyyyy!” like we were their compadres.
They followed us through the parking lot, they gave our bus the thumbs-up; they smiled obsequiously at us with ruined methamphetamine teeth; they introduced us to the poor, beleaguered cat they had living with them in a squalid old van.
They hinted they wanted to join us on tour. They asked us if we were holding any weed. Then, when we said no, they asked us again. (Rule number one: No drugs on the bus! Also, get your own weed, tweaker!)
We were all left with the same comically uneasy feeling: Why the hell did the meth-hobos think we’d want to befriend them? Do they think we’re their “people”? … We don’t seem that bad, do we?
Hells no. We’re not drug fiends. This is part of the reason we get along so well — like it or not, hard drug habits cause drama. We Cyclecide clowns are “Alcoholists” — alcohol enthusiasts — and all we want is to pal around and get tipsy and ride bikes.
Nobody gets wasted (except for every once in awhile, when some college-town bar has $1 well drinks or a certain Bike Rodeo show demoralizes us so much that we make everyone really strong Tanqueray and Lemonades on the aftershow bus ride back to the hotel), but we all have a fondness for making sure we’re loose enough to avoid breaking bones in case we fall. Heh. Silly tweakers — bikes are for drunks!
So yeah. Tanqueray and Lemonade. Back in Rawlins, Rose went into a 99-cent store and came out with a plastic “WINNER” medal on a red-white-and-blue ribbon, and a plan: Whoever gets the drunkest tne night before is the “WINNER” the following day, and has to wear the medal around his or her neck until — since Rose is leaving tour for a while to go do her Ultra Gypsy bellydance obligations — the “WINNER” deems someone else to be the “WINNER.” Today, Rose awarded Fox the medallion of shame (or is it pride?)… but we think Che deserves it more.
Yes, Fox was with Che when he tried to go into the hotel bar dressed in only a towel and a T-shirt… all three times he did it. Fox was there when Che somehow scammed himself an extra hotel room for free.
But Fox did not run from room to room distributing the remaining gin as if it were water in a desert, knocking again to exalt about how The Mack (“the greatest pimp movie of all time”) was on TV, calling us repeatedly from the “new” room to tell us to check out this or that scene (as if we weren’t watching it), and finally passing out without giving up the rest of the liquor bottle.
We don’t want to override Rose’s rulling since it’s her game, but we think Fox is the runner up. In our opinion, Che’s last night’s clear WINNER.
On the drive to Kansas tonight, we made up a new idiot game for the “you know you’re a hobo when” entry list:
“Toxic Beach Ball” is best played in a windy bus, and all it requires is an empty plastic grocery bag and a whole lot of swinging, flailing, and knocking people’s drinks over. Good times.
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