Alpine Lodge is an all-purpose reception hall with a wild west façade. It is located behind the race car track where tonight they will be playing car soccer.
As we set up the stage, Phil says, “The radio DJ said last time Days Of The New came to town Travis dumped a gallon of milk on his head and pissed out a second story window before the show. Do you remember that?”
I tell Phil I do remember, which is true, but I cannot see it in my mind. I don’t remember Rockford, Illinois with an image of a venue or a freak out. Its not like Providence, Mercedes, Los Angeles, or Carbondale, whose memories come back with everything from the first song of the set to the smell of the back stage.
“What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened,” Malcolm asks. Before I open my mouth I know I’m going to disappoint. I start to tell them a story that is a strong emotional memory.
“Once before a show Travis took mustard put it on a piece of bread and smeared it down a dressing room mirror…”
My heart isn't in it. Malcolm and Phil give me blank looks and go back to setting up the stage.
A little later Travis returns with Steve the radio DJ who is still talking about the last time we came through.
“You guys were playing in De Kalb,” he starts.
“De Kalb! Holy shit,” I say. "I totally remember De Kalb!" As the memory surges back, I realize the milk and second-floor window piss were only supporting details.
I tell Steve the DJ, “I did not think we would make it through that one.”
“Really,’ Steve says, and proceeds to repeat his story for at least the third time that day. “I remember being up in the band room and Travis dumps milk on his head and pisses out a window and then the band up and leaves him and gets onstage without him. And I’m like, Travis, your band just left you. What is going on?
“Yeah well –“ I say, uncomfortable.
Steve continues: “So I walk down to the stage with Travis and the band is playing and he gets up there and I’m thinking, is this even gonna happen? And suddenly it was like a switch went off and you guys started rocking. It was amazing.”
“I know,” I say. “It became a kind of thrill-addiction for me – cliffhanging before the show, wondering if we were going to go down in a ball of fire and then turning around and playing some of the meanest music I’ve ever played.”
I want to talk, but my heart still isn't in it and, having no clear indication that Steve is interested or listening to me, I quit while I’m ahead. I would have enjoyed telling him that the perspective of Travis suffering, caged, and left backstage by his band didn’t say enough for the other people involved who were, like Travis, trying to negotiate a caged, maddening situation. I'd like to have sat, had some coffee, and explained the experiences with some relaxed perspective sharing. But there isn't time. Steve is a great DJ and DJs work best with soundbytes, antecdotes, and quick one liners.
Travis exhales smoke and tells Steve, “Ray’s been with me longer than anybody. I had to suck his cock just to get him to come back out with me.”
“Now he just does it for fun,” I say.
“Good comeback,” Travis says.