Oct. 14-23ish, 2004 – Minneapolis, MN
The first night after the Shoo Shoo’s demise, we stayed in two rooms in a crappy hotel near the impound lot in Lincoln, and parked the truck full of all our tourly belongings behind the building.
We couldn’t actually see our new vehicle from the rooms, and this made us quite uncomfortable — even more so when a man knocked on our unlocked door late at night as we were watching television, then opened it (in pajamas, post-shower, brushing our teeth) to step in and announce to the men in the room that he was “ready to party” and he “got the goods.”
We can’t remember our exact words to our uninvited guest, but we think they were along the lines of “CAN WE HELP YOU?” And we think we shouted.
Che, ever the facilitator and conflict-preventer, deftly maneuvered the large, intimidating hoodlum back outside to share a cigarette and explain to him that we’d had a very bad day.
“The goods” in question turned out to be a very young, petulant, scared-looking woman sitting on the stairs, surrounded by Homey’s friends. She didn’t seem to know any of them personally.
Homey told Che he hailed from Oakland, and had just flown in to “do some business.” Homey invited Jarico to join the party, then after some negotiation, finally gave up and moved along to the other rooms to pimp his “goods.”
His friends and the goods sat on the stairs right outside our door for hours. Needless to say, our collective views of a brutal world and the general suckiness of things grew stronger through the night.
Minneapolis, though, is a second home to many Cycleciders, and cherished by all the rest, as it’s home to the primary chapter of our “parent” organization, the Black Label Bike Club.
It’s definitely a more inviting place to regroup than a pimp-riddled freeway motel in Ne-F^cking-Braska. Laird was supposed to fly into Minneapolis and meet us there, but because of the wreck fiasco, and the restrictive rules of car-rental companies, he had to rent a passenger van and drive 6 hours to Lincoln to come get all of us.
When he arrived in the morning, he asked Jarico to take him to see the dead bus with his own eyes. Fox went along for the ride to the tow lot, needing to say her goodbyes to the Shoo Shoo just one more time.
We all felt weird on the drive up to the Twin Cities. We were separated, and there was no place to take a nap or run around or cook food or play Hot Dice or swing around a handrail pole.
Linda and Jarico followed behind us in the box truck, communicating with the van via two of Che’s walkie-talkies. This new transportation arrangement made us feel like we were on our way to a suburban soccer game or a church mission trip. Of course, the only other time we’d all ridden in a passenger van together was two days before, when the Minister from Milford drove us from destruction to cleanup.
We traversed Iowa, Koit’s home state, for the majority of the drive, and its variegated landscapes, black soil, picturesque farmhouses, and natural, surprisingly-strip-mall-free beauty warmed our spirits like a hot toddy after a sudden blizzard.
Koit kept dropping science on us about corn and corn products, and we discussed all the people we knew with corn tattoos. Apparently, if you’re from the Midwest, it’s a big thing to sincerely love corn, even if you’re a misfit.
We got chased around by security — again — at a rest stop built in an old red barn, but we didn’t mind.
Geno and Christina might be the most well-adjusted and grown-up goth-punk couple we’ve ever met. A longtime friend of Big Daddy’s, Geno speaks softly but carries a large rap sheet. He’s a self-employed laborer with a beat-up motorcycle jacket and a nice streak a mile wide.
Christina is his longtime girlfriend, a darkly beautiful princess of the underworld with long, flowing black dreadlocks, ivory skin, and deep grey eyes. She loves bats, and is currently going to school to study them and make them her life’s work.
Geno, Christina, and Christina’s personable brother Robert proved excellent hosts. Their clean, stylish, comfortably shadowy house, which was to be our home for over a week, sits on a regular Minneapolis street where normal people live and other people sell and buy crack sometimes.
The interior decor straddles the fence between macabre and Japanese, and their entertainment center with surround-sound made us all salivate. Yoshi and Amuck, their two dogs, could melt the coldest heart with a big fluffy fireball of sweet-cuteness, and their black cat, Hellbat, just might be a jaded person trapped in a feline’s body.
In the large side yard sits Christina’s erstwhile home during bat-studying summer school last year: a popup trailer where half of Cyclecide slept for the next 8 or 9 days. On a tall pole attached to the chain-link fence outside, a pirate flag flies high above the house.
Minneapolis would’ve been a great town to go riding bikes every day. It’s beautiful there. But what with our soreness, soft-tissue damage, and shell-shocked near-catatonia, the next days blended together in a lazy orgy of TV, napping, and indulging in simple pleasures like Black Label beer ($10 a case!) and Old Dutch dill pickle chips. Thankfully, the weather cooperated — constantly bitter cold and rainy — so that we wouldn’t feel bad for staying inside and being couch slugs.
Soon after arrival, we had a drag of a day in the hospital. That was our first order of business, though — to get ourselves checked out and X-rayed and get Shotwell’s wound cleaned up. Christina and Geno shuttled us over there, and we all limped in the emergency room, black-clad and grimacing and stiff.
We immediately overheard from the nurses that the old couple sitting in the waiting area was there because the wife was having chest pains. We prayed silently that the grimy vision of Che, Big Daddy, Jeremy, Shotwell, and the rest of us lumbering to the reception desk like zombies wouldn’t give her a heart attack before she could get back to see the doctor.
We all lined up to give the friendly, matter-of-fact E.R. nurse our names, then sat down and waited. Nurses called us into the E.R. lobby one by one to get our personal information and check our stats.
This writer flinched when the lady touched our shoulder, so she slapped us with a neck brace and told us we had to wear it for the rest of the day. Great. We told her we’d be fine without it, but she wasn’t having none — so, humiliated, helpless, and intensely aware of the ribbing we were about to recieve, we walked back out to the waiting room like a dog with a cone on its head.
After laughing at us, Big Daddy got one too. Ha ha. We had to give ours back for some reason, but he got to keep his. Jarico would later — and often, throughout the week — wear B.D.’s neck brace on top of his head and sideways to entertain guests. He even brought it to his sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
We spent at least an hour in the waiting room thinking of ways to incorporate the neck brace into our stage show. Koit also decided that the E.R. lobby was as good a place as any for us (in our neck braces) to finally comb out the dreadlocks he’d accidentally accumulated in his hair over the past couple months of here-and-there hygiene.
He joked to those gawking at us in the waiting room that the truck rear-ended us so hard it tangled his hair up and turned him into a hippie.
All day long, other emergencies more pressing than ours kept popping up. We overheard the nurses talking about an incoming Medevac that contained a man with a perforated stomach. Yikes.
We were there all day — about 10 hours. Like many people, we hate hospitals — we’re glad they exist, but we don’t like to be in them or think about the suffering going on in all the rooms around us. We have utmost respect for those who can not only deal with that kind of drama on a daily basis, but also know how to put people — live people — back together when they’re torn or deteriorating.
It’s all so heavy for a bunch of clowns.
The only upside to the day was getting prescriptions for Vicodin, which we ordered from an entirely automated and freakish “candy machine” in the waiting room.
We distracted ourselves by watching the presidential debates, embarrassed for our country and the man whose regime stole the leadership of it, and more hopeful than ever that Kerry would win the election.
Koit said he thought Kerry looked sick — Linda told him that people with too much white showing on the bottom half of their eyeballs had something wrong with them, something unbalanced in their bodies. We meant to ask the doctor about that theory once we saw her, but we forgot.
Whatever Kerry’s imbalance might be, at least his eyes and face register emotion. When he laughs, he doesn’t just push out a “heh” like somebody’s squeezing him. And when he smiles, he’s not just showing his teeth. That Shrub, on the other hand — we’re pretty convinced he’s a Reptilian.
So our days in Minneapolis were filled with pleasant cookouts, conversations around burn-barrel fires in the yard, reunions with old friends, and many many movies on Surround Sound in the living room. The only places we ventured out were to the cafe down the street and the corner store where they sold delicious $2 Vietnamese sandwiches.
Koit and this writer lucked out in the sleeping-arrangement department, inheriting our dear friend Jesse Wack’s “hole” in the basement, complete with real twin bed and TV and VCR. We did laundry, spread out our clothes and stuff, and re-packed it all nicely — such a comfort — and we overslept each day (thanks, Vicodin!). The wreck might’ve sucked mightily, but the post-crash coccooning was sort of nice.
Jarico was always on the phone at Geno and Christina’s — struggling to rent vehicles, talking to lawyers, haggling with the insurance guy, finding hospitals, handling business for his sister’s wedding, and generally figuring out what to do next. Everything had to be discussed, and discussions between twelve people take a long-ass time.
It got to the point where we were all totally fed up with talking about stuff — but nevertheless, it provided a good example of how much dialogue needs to happen if an organization has one fair and loose-reined wrangler with a democratic collective, rather than a straight-up autocrat with a posse of unpaid workers.
“Chaos provides,” as Chicken always says.
Linda and this writer helped Jarico polish up the speech he was to give at his sister’s wedding, and when it came time to give it, he aced it. The wedding occurred on the Mississippi River at a public building near a bunch of pretty boats. The ceremony was to take place outside, but since it was October in Minneapolis, it’s a good thing they had a sealed tent with heaters inside.
Guests assembled in the rows of white folding chairs. Jarico’s sister — small, cute, and just as explosively charged as he — walked down the aisle, the picture of pint-sized resplendence, and Jarico officiated the ceremony.
When he pronounced them husband and wife, as a surprise to the couple, Shotwell and Che orchestrated an impressive fireworks show outside on the grass as the couple kissed their first married kiss. A gaggle of geese that had been grazing on the lawn, startled by the pyrotechnics, flew up and away in formation. It might as well have been a commercial for something.
The wedding budget didn’t include feeding twelve Cyclecide clowns, so we sat out in the tent during the dinner inside and ate leftover food Linda wrangled from some compassionate caterers. During the reception, as a band called “The Wedding Band” played and we drank lots of wine, we all made friends with Jarico’s 10-year-old half-brother, who break-danced for us on the waxed wood floor.
Outside in the tent, now the smoking area, every time that little B-boy would come out to kick it with some Cycleciders, whom he could tell were the most freakish people at the party, his mom herded him back inside like we were a rabid pack of dingoes and he was a bunny.
What? It’s not like we do drugs or give kids cigarettes and booze. Ah well, if we were a mom, and we didn’t know us, maybe we wouldn’t let our kid hang around us either.
Later that week, some of us watched the Cirkus Redickuless documentary down in the basement. We hadn’t seen it in 7 years or so, not since we first met the Cirkus and Linda first developed her crush on Jarico.
He hadn’t seen it since then either. He looked a bit younger and misbehaved a lot more in those days, and the video shows just how disorganized that first Cirkus tour was, how many shitty vehicles they had to travel in and break down in, and what a disaster that whole trip turned out to be.
The Cirkus tours after that weren’t much better, we hear. We saw just how good we have it in Cyclecide, and at the same time, why Jarico thinks we’re doing really well when sometimes the rest of us think we’re just scraping by.
“At least we’re not eating beans and rice or ramen,” he’ll say, or some other topic-appropriate war story.
After a few years with the Cirkus, though, Chicken got sick of all the drama and cat-herding and hung it up for good. The troupe dispersed and he became a showman on his own. We hope that won’t happen with Cyclecide.
We don’t think it will. We think we have more job security than that. Jarico can’t possibly set up all those rides all by himself.
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