Friday, May 13, 2005

Three State Bender Part II: Reds, Derby, Trey, and Cornhole
Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
- The Beatles
Daddy woke me up at the crack of the dawn. I was glad I didn't puke in his guest bedroom. My stomach lost a twelve round fight the night before and my head pounded with an acute pain, like I got sat on by Rosie O'Donnell for three straight hours. Hungover in Indiana. It hasn't been the first time and I know it won't be the last.

We had a big day planned: Reds game with Iggy, the Kentucky Derby, and a Trey Anastasio Band concert. We met up with his old man, Major Trax, at 7am to pick up the tickets since we were taking separate cars. We arranged a rendezvous point at the Embassy Suites in Covington, Kentucky, right across the river from Cincinnati. Daddy selected a scenic route for us so I can see a part of the beautiful rolling hills on Southern Indiana. We yapped about a jillion things. Our conversation wavered back and forth between baseball, Red State politics, and of course... donkey fucking.

In Red States, it's not uncommon to see a plethora of churches populating rural back roads. I lost count of how many I saw within the first hour. The one distinguishing feature was the Welcome Sign on the front lawn of every church. Those signs were strategically placed close to the road so drivers could get a glimpse of that particular church's propaganda. Some signs quoted scripture. Some gave the specific times of church service or bible study. And others would have snazzy catch phrases meant to have you think about God on your way to where ever you are going. We saw one sign in particular that had us cracking up for the rest of the drive. It was so powerful that we talked about it the entire weekend.

"Celebrate here with your mother."

Obviously, it was the day before Mother's Day and the local minister wanted to get the word out that you should bring your Mom to church before you celebrate Mother's Day. Daddy and I, however, had a much different vision of that slogan.

"Fuck man, I'm gonna get shirts printed up. 'Celebrate HERE with your mother.'"

"With an arrow pointing down to your crotch?" I added.

"Yeah. And jock straps and G-strings too."

It would be a best seller. It seems like every Tom, Brad, and Danny in the blogging community are pitching their t-shirts on their sites. Me? I'm going to get in on the ground floor with Daddy and sell "Celebrate HERE with your mother" t-shirts on my blogs.

We also came up with a great idea to sell religious quotes for $6 per month. What do you get for $6? Well, fuck, you get a quote a day, sourced from the bible, and it's emailed to you. It's perfect for Church signs, self-affirmations, and something to stash away and break out when a devil worshiper crosses your path. Jebus freaks like to spend money on Jebus related items. All we'd have to do is flip through the damn Bible once a day and rattle off a quote and let the big bucks roll in. To hell with being a Poker Stars affiliate. There's a shitload of money to be made in selling daily scripture quotes online. Jebus has left the building.

We reached the hotel and met up with some of Daddy's old man's work friends who were heading to the game with us. They were all having a good time drinking and it wasn't even noon yet. We moved the party downstairs to the Behle Street Cafe, an outdoor eatery. Our group sat down at the bar. We were fixin' to get shitty before the game. The best way to shake off a hangover is to start drinking. They had a special on buckets of beer and we sat out in the sun and waited for Iggy to calls us. He and GMoney were scheduled to meet us at the game. Last time I saw Iggy, we were both drunk as skunks in Vegas.

Across the street the Northern Kentucky Convention Center hosted a National Square Dance Gathering. Over 1,200 square dancing fanatics from all over the South gathered. Some of the them were eating lunch at the Behle Street Cafe. They were all in the 60s and wore those freaky square dancing costumes. I hoped they were just costumes and not everyone wore those kind of outfits all the time. There were quite a number of them mingling around in front of the convention center and waiting to be seated at the Cafe. If I was on any serious drugs, I might have freaked out seeing a gaggle of blue hairs dressed like it was 1958. I was in the South again, I had to remind myself. I erased the slightly disturbing images out of my head and focused on the beer in front of me.

I was told from a lot of locals (Iggy specifically) that folks park on the Kentucky side and walk over the bridge to Cincinnati to go to the Reds games. That bridge appeared in the movie Rain Main. If you've seen the movie, you know the scene I'm talking about. As we walked over, Major Trax offered up a random nugget that the bridge was designed by the same guy who did the Brooklyn Bridge. We also chatted briefly about his love for the Yankees. He's been a Yanks fan since 1960. Mickey Fuckin' Mantle. Imagine the Mickster on the Creame and the Clear? He'd be crushing 70 home runs a year... easily. It's really simple to see where Daddy gets his sense of humor and passion for sports, especially baseball. A chat with his old man is priceless. He knows his baseball history and it's always a pleasure to meet an authentic baseball purist.

Iggy has a good friend who works for the Reds. We already had tickets but Iggy scored 4 along the third base side. I told Iggy to find me in my seats with the Indiana crew then I would go over and watch the game with him for a little bit.

We finally met up and I was introduced to GMoney. He's been a fan of my blogs for over a year and a half. And he wasn't the only one. Iggy turned on my main blog and my musical road trips write ups to all of his friends. Man, that blew me away! Some of Iggy's friends have the same taste in music that I do. GMoney is a Deadhead and musician (a little older than me) and we had plenty to chat about. We've also been at a lot of the same Phish shows too. And the best part... he was going to the Trey Anastasio later that night in Cincinnati.

I was in Iggy's hometown and I couldn't have been happier checking out a brand new (well two years old) baseball stadium. Last May, I met AlCantHang for the first time and took in my first Phillies game at their new ballpark. That's when I met Mrs. Hang and the immortal Big Mike for the first time. I told Mean Gene that I'm going to check out a Pirates game with him next! Anyway, I liked the new stadium although Daddy was busting on the concession area. He said he reminded him of a mall. It did. The field looked old school, but yeah, the fan area gave off a mall-like vibe. At least you could walk around without being crushed, like at Yankee Stadium where the corridors are tiny.

I drank a few beers and we finally sat down in Iggy's seats. Within minutes of sitting down, Iggy nudged me and told me to look up at the Jumbotron. I was shocked that I was able to get my camera out in time. I was blown away by that. I looked at Iggy and I just nodded. He nodded back. We both knew how fucking awesome that was. Even the Reds were psyched that I stopped by. They were on a horrible losing streak and snapped it for me. There was a Dodgers fan with a dyed blue beard who walked up and down our aisle busting on the Reds. He screamed, "One and Nine! One and Nine!" Which I think was their home record? Everyone booed him and tossed peanuts in his direction.

Iggy is not a fan of having his picture taken. I'm risking our friendship here by attempting to post the only picture of Iggy on the internet. So here it is. I took a picture of Iggy dancing around at the Reds game.

The Reds finally won a game and Iggy went home after we agreed to meet up the next day for his homegame. I made plans to see GMoney and Rick aka Mr. Fabulous at the concert a few hours later. In the meantime, Daddy and I walked back over the bridge into Kentucky. I wanted to watch the Kentucky Derby especially because I had money on it. I called Boy Genius the day before when I was in Indiana playing poker with the Hill Jack boys. I told him to put $10 to show on Sun King. I knew George Steinbrenner's horse, Bellamy Road, was not going to win. Favorites never win. Not too many experts picked Sun King. I liked that. At 15-1 I liked his chances. But what the fuck do I know about horse racing anyway? Boy Genius is the so-called expert. Alas, he's been too busy counting up all the kecthup packets in his fridge to provide top-notch horse-racing coverage.

I was pumped that I'd be in Kentucky watching the Kentucky Derby. I wasn't at Churchill Downs, but it was close enough. I've attended one Derby during my late teens many moons ago when I lived in Atlanta and roadtripped to Kentucky with a few fraternity brothers. I experienced the Derby from the infield of Churchill Downs. Talk about a redneck convention. Everyone was shirtless, sloppy drunk, and peeing everywhere. And that was just the chicks.

Anyway, flash forward to 2005. I'm sitting back at the bar at Behle Street Cafe with Daddy and Bobby, who is one of Major Trax's best friends. Their idea of a fun time is to drink two cases of beer and play 36 holes of golf. Good dudes. Bobby had hundreds of wild stories to tell and kept us entertained as we waited for the race to go off. And the race? What a let down. Sun King didn't even finish in the top 10 and Giacamo, a friggin' 55-1 shot took it all.

My friend Lori lives in Covington. She's attending law school there and is one of my Tao of Pauly groupies. Yeah, she's an old school Paulyhead and I met her at a Phish show last year in Deer Creek. She contributes to my Phish blog from time to time. We also hung out at the last Phish shows in Vermont at the end of last summer. None of her friends had tickets so I told her to tag along and pre-party with Daddy and I. Coincidentally, she used to work at the place we were drinking at so she knew where it was. We wandered into the hotel for the tail end of happy hour. Embassy Suites gives their patrons a free drinks from 5:30 to 7:30. We joined Major Trax and Bobby. They were getting plastered and telling jokes. At one point Major Trax turned to Daddy and said, "What's yer nickname again? Snailshit?"

I lost it and cracked up. Snailtrax. Snailshit. Same thing, eh? It's better than Donkey Fucker.

Trey Anastasio Band Concert Review

We grabbed a taxi to take us to the show and we got grumpy cabbie who wouldn't let us smoke in his cab. He dropped us right in front of the Taft Theatre where hundreds of neo-hippies milled around. Some were looking to score a ticket or drugs or both. We were waiting for some of Daddy's crew to appear. If you don't know, Trey Anastasio was the lead guitar player for Phish. They broke up last summer and he threw together a new band to support his solo act.

I've only been in Cincinnati once before. I spent two days there in December 1999 when Phish played two shows during their winter tour. I was considered a tour rat back then when I actually had long hair (and a pony tail). I saw a shitload of shows in 1999 with "Angela," the girl I was dating. I traveled all over the country that year with a 20 year-old spit-fire of a gal from central Texas. She was as cute as Natalie Portman and could drink like a fish. (I'm also 100% positive she reads my blog. Hi Angela!) Moving on, those concerts rocked in 1999 and they even played my favorite song Slave to the Traffic Light during one of those shows. It goes without saying that I was shitfaced the entire time I spent in Cincinnati in 1999. Some things never change.

I met two of Daddy's buddies, Dirt McGirt and Weir outside. They know to party and have seen a bunch of Phish and Widespread Panic shows with Daddy. Lori had a floor seat and I had upper balcony so we separated when we went inside. I found GMoney and Mr. Fabulous upstairs. Daddy hit the bar and we missed the opening band. We found our seats and GMoney and Mr. Fabulous decided to sit near us instead. Good choice. We partied the entire show. They caught Widespread Panic at the Taft Theatre a few weeks before. It's a small venue no more than 3,000 seats. We were close to the back row and could almost touch the ceiling, but despite that we could see the stage with no problems.

Set I: Dark And Down, Cincinnati, Dig A Pony, Oz Is Ever Floating, It's Ice, Burlap Sack and Pumps, What's Done> Bar 17, Will It Go Round In Circles

I downloaded Trey's show from a week earlier. I wanted to hear what his new band sounded like. Only one of the keyboard players, Ray, played in his previous band which featured a kick ass horn section. He rearranged all of his songs with the new band. I had been seeing Phish for well over 15 years so I was used to hearing the tightness of four guys who had been playing together for almost two decades. Trey had only a few months to play with these guys so I knew there would be lots of inconsistencies. I didn't have high expectations and was happy to be having an amazing weekend.

The pace didn't pick up until they broke out Cincinnati. Trey wrote in after there was a fire in his hotel a few years ago, when Phish played Cincy in 2003. My buddy Zobo happened to be staying at the same hotel as Phish and woke up at 5am to find out his hotel was in flames! Luckily no one was hurt but that event inspired Trey to write a kick ass tune.

The next two songs were average. Dig a Pony is a Beatles song and I noticed that Trey has been on a Beatles kick. Oz is Ever Floating is a song he first played with his other side band Oysterhead (which featrured Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland from the Police). The crowd went a little crazy when the band busted out their first "Phish cover" of the night with It's Ice. This version was much faster and Daddy kept commenting how much he loved the drummer Skeeto Valdez. I must say that Skeeto has a ton of energy and he was the only other band member I wacthed as the night wore on.

By It's Ice they got the sound cleared up a little better. I was still having trouble hearing the bass player. Daddy smiled when he said, "You know Trey always wants to be heard." So true. Burlap Sack and Pumps was a little funky and Daddy had been singing the lyrics all afternoon. The next two tunes were slow and killed the first set for me. I took a piss and chatted with GMoney for a bit. Daddy wondered what the over-under for flunking out would be if we went to college together. He picked 3 semesters. Wow. Possibly. I'm still shocked that I graduated (on time and in four years) from one of the best universities in the South, even after I skipped classes for weeks at a time to follow the Grateful Dead.

The band finally got their shit together with Circles. Too bad it took 45 minutes before Trey and his boys finally played to their ability. They smoked the shit out of it and Trey looked like he was having the most fun of the night, jumping and hoping around.

During setbreak I found Lori and she gave me a pen. I forgot to bring paper and something to write notes with. Drunk Pauly. Oh well. At the break I was disappointed with the show so far. They had a few highlights but I expected them to rage in Cincy! I accepted the fact that Trey is playing music that he wants to play and I respect him enough as a musician that I'll listen to what he throws at me. I only hoped that the second set would have less lulls.

Set II: Night Speaks To A Woman, The Way I Feel, Cayman Review, Push On Til the Day, 18 Steps, First Tube > In The Light

I can't say anything about the second set other than... it kicked my ass. I dug all of the songs he played. I lwas fond of how he rearranged Push on Til the Day. First Tube, originally a Trey band tune later on perfected by Phish, was total sickness. Lori especially wanted to hear that. Trey jumped up and down and I could feel the floor of the balcony bounce with everyone dancing. Trey closed the set with a Led Zeppelin cover, In the Light, which GMoney really wanted to see. It was a sizzling version and much better than the one I downloaded. They are getting tighter as the tour progresses. I thought Trey tried his best to do both a Jimmy Page and Robert Plant homage in the same instance during In the Light. Freaky song and they rocked it out. It was definitely the highlight of the show.

Encore: Waste, Love That Breaks All Lines, Back On The Train, I Am The Walrus

My biggest critique about Phish was that they never knew how to end a concert. The usually played the last song I'd want to hear. More often than not it was a slow ballad like Friday, Waste, or Velvet Sea. Sure enough Trey came out by himself and began a Phish song called Waste. At first I was irked, but Daddy mentioned that Trey with an acoustic guitar can't be all that bad. He was right. I let my bias go and listened to the crowd sing along. Now I don't hate the song. I dig it. I never liked it as a single song encore. The lyrics to Waste kick my ass everytime I hear it.
Don't want to be an actor pretending on the stage
Don't want to be a writer with my thoughts out on the page
Don't want to be a painter 'cause everyone comes to look
Don't want to be anything where my life's an open book

A dream it's true
But I'd see it through
If I could be
Wasting my time with you

Don't want to be a farmer working in the sun
Don't want to be an outlaw always on the run
Don't want to be a climber reaching for the top
Don't want to be anything where I don't know when to stop

A dream it's true
But I'd see it through
If I could be
Wasting my time with you

So if I'm inside your head
Don't believe what you might have read
You'll see what I might have said
To hear it

Come waste your time with me
He played two more acoustic songs including another Phish song, Back on the Train. Just when I thought that was it, his band appeared back on stage. A rare four song encore. Very cool. I guess Trey knew he punked out with a shitty first set and wanted to make it up with a crushing second set and encore. I turned to GMoney and told him, "I am the Walrus."

Sure enough, they broke out into another Beatles cover. I am the eggman.

As we made our way outside after the show ended, Daddy sang I am the Walrus for everyone around us. We met up with Lori outside. She was super happy. She was in the sixth row and could see Trey jumping up and down during First Tube. We also met up with the Indiana boys... Schroeder, Weir, and Dirt McGirt... as they stumbled out of the theatre.

Weir had me cracking up. He had a tape measure attached to the side of his pants. He would measure random things. That's what you do when your shitfaced. Lori was a good sport especially when he stood close to her and then shot out his tape measure towards her face. He stopped to see how far it was.

"Three and a half feet away from being a cocksucker."

We all errupted in laughter as he let the tape measure go and it recoiled back with a sharp snapping sound. I still laughed hard when I typed that line. It was past Midnight and Lori had to meet up with her friends over the river in Kentucky at a German beer house near the Levee. Daddy rounded up his boys and we headed back into Kentucky. Daddy, Lori, and I grabbed the first cab. The Indiana boys took the second. They didn't know where they were going and Weir told the cabbie, "Follow that car!" Which is something he always wanted to say.


Lori took us to Hofbrau House near the Levee. That place is not for amatuers they serve dunkels of beer. Dunkels are huge mugs of beer the size of people's heads that Germans drink like it's water. Lori introduced me to her friends and Daddy handed me a dunkel of dark beer. Time to go to work. I wondered how much beer was actually in the glass. Weir walked over and busted out his measuring tape. Six inches in height. Four inches of beer. 6x4. Yikes. That's a lot of beer. I was having trouble holding the dunkel with one hand. I had to use two. I decided to drink fast. But man, a dunkel is like a size of a pitcher of beer. I haven't chugged pitchers in over a decade. I did what I could and sipped fast. I'm sure it was the mushrooms but I felt I would take huge swigs only to find out I barely made a dent.

Daddy's boys disappeared to an adjacent section. That's where folks were playing Cornhole. Lori was trashing it the entire time. It's been sweeping the Cincinnati area the last few years. Daddy had never played it and I was skeptical. Where I'm from, the term cornhole means... anal rape. It's not a fun term. Anything involving insane amounts of liquor, residents of Kentucky, and the word "cornhole" was enough to make me want to run away.

Yeah, I'm sorry to disappoint some of you sexual perverts. Although Corn Hole comes from red neck roots, it has nothing to do with sex. Or donkey fucking. You basically try to toss a small bean bag filled with corn into a ramp with a hole in it. Simple, eh? Cornhole a derivative of horseshoes. But you have to be drunk to play. I don't think sober people can fully comprehend the retardness of why people would waste their time tossing small bags filled with corn into holes... and keep score while doing it.

Here's the deal you can play teams. Two on two. And you take turns tossing four beans bags alternating between you and your opponent. I had Dirt McGirt on my team. Daddy had Weir. I got lucky since Dirt McGirt is the two time Indiana State Champ. He's the Roy Hobbs of Cornhole.

But shit, anything banal becomes instantly exciting if you place a small wager on it. Ah, some actual gambling content in this post. Daddy and I were betting $1 per round. In between slurping our dunkels, we'd place side bets. I was out of my element and Daddy played minor league baseball. I was the definite under dog being a city boy playing a red neck sport. Yeah, I played Cornhole with Daddy and Lori watched. She basically stood in the corner and mocked us. Daddy and the boys ordered another round of dunkel when it hit last call. At one point, we were double fisting dunkels and Daddy was making pirate sounds effects, "Arrrghhh!"

I had one of those existentialist moments that crop up from time to time: What the fuck was I doing at a German beer house in Kentucky at 2am playing cornhole with a bunch of rednecks?

Almost 48 hours into my trip, I never quite never figured out the logistics of donkey fucking, but I stumbled upon something possibly bigger... cornhole. I could see hipsters eating this game up in NYC and embracing the red neck culture. I could make a million dollars off a bunch of been bags an a ramp or too. Outside of the Cincinnati area, no one had ever heard of cornhole. Like I said, the only cornhole tournaments being held in New York City are at Riker's Island. Where the biggest baddest motherfuckers in the joint welcome newbies to prison with their own version of cornhole.

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