No Depression Blog: Texacali Juggernaut

Claude Bernard, Pacific Ocean © thenotoriousmark

Texacali Juggernaut or the way it comes to you when you let it
By Kevin Russell
September 19, 2011

As a Marginalized marvel we do most everything ourselves. It keeps expenses down and satisfies our want to control our own destiny. Sometimes though the information overload is too much and things go haywire. This was the case when our beloved Tour Manager, Kiki, got conflicting info about a supposed "video shoot" in LA on our Monday off. In our estimation it was going to be more advantageous for us to traverse the Mojave by day and penetrate into the bloody heart of Hollywood in the dark of night. Walter Salas-Humara advised us to stay on the plateau until sundown and then make the trek down into the valley. A day before the record came out we figured there'd be cameras and groupies and other hangers-on set up outside the super 8 on Sunset. Mark [Creaney] brought up google earth to discuss what our "entrance strategy" might be. Two doors in the front of the lobby were all that stood between us and the sanctuary of our rooms.

"We would be forced to enter the front from the passenger side door of the limo. The hotel has agreed to pay for modest security for the first hour. I am not sure how we would get our gear in though." He explained.

Luckily the throngs had all given up and gone home by the time Keith and I arrived. There were just a few chatty Germans hanging out by the bottled water machines. As we lugged the gear around the terrace their "slizy" Germanic language scraped the beautiful night air. There was some debate that they might be Dutch. But, German is a very distinctive language. More than one of us upon passing each other spoke in a playful germanic accent just to ease the drudgery of humping gear. We spent the rest of the evening perched upon the balcony gazing out among the post-industrial Aztec ruins, letting the cool night lightly caress our cheeks.

A late night taco hunt took some of us into a weirdo world only hinted at by the decaying infrastructure of the city. As Claude chewed on his taco lingua, EagleEye observed a tattooed ghost sitting against a wall stirring a drink round and round, over and over for the better part of two hours. When Eagle went to the WC the ghost drink stirrer followed him. He said he thought he was gonna meet his maker. But, nada. Whilst Eagle peed, peripheral vision in a heightened state, Claude started on his second tongue taco and Mark was outside smoking. He said he witnessed two men eating hotdogs and head butting each other. It seemed an unlikely pairing to him.

One of my last observations from the balcony that night was that LA is like London in the middle of Mexico where people create images to either make themselves poison to predators or attractive to predators and the predators are highly skilled, camouflaged vampires.

Next morning Keith discovered that we did not, in fact, have a video shoot. Suddenly we had a day off. We decided to go out to Santa Monica to meet the Vanguard staff. They were all there with refreshments and good vibes. They had just decorated the walls of their new digs with great old album covers from their archives; Charlie Musslewhite, Doc Watson, Odetta, Cisco Houston just to name a few. Talked a little shop, some stories, colorful anecdotes, then poof we were gone. We had to get out of there before Rodney Crowell and Mary Carr arrived for their briefing of the staff on their new project together. (We shoulda had a staff briefing)

From there we had a good old fashioned Gourds break down between those who wanted to go to the beach and those who wanted to go to the hotel. One thing about traveling with 6 or 7 men is that we often have differing ideas about what we want to be doing when we are not doing what we came out to do. For instance, when contemplating going to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff on our day off, there were those who did not want to and those that did. Another contingent thought we should get to LA in a day if we had that blasted video shoot. And yet another who just wanted to eat. The Beach v Hotel debate was conducted on two sides of the streets in two different groups of Gourds. Two guys in the van were steadfast in their readiness to return to the base of operations. The rest of us were trying to weigh the options of going to the beach, watching football and visiting a friend of EagleEye's, Ryan. Once we had it figured out then we had to discuss which vehicle each group would take. Room had to be be made in the rental car. The Jeep Liberty, though apropos for 9-11 week, was a lame ride nonetheless. Kind of like if you combined a hummer 3 and PT Cruiser, blek. We unloaded merch and some gear into the van anyway and went out separate ways.

We hit the beach at Santa Monica pier. Having not prepared to go to a beach I rolled up my jeans and headed for the waves. We wandered thru a dizzying array of lean, leathery and limber beach exploiters intent on their various contortion exhibitions and body tweaking routines. I felt a little like an encyclopedia salesman at the Googleplex. Once my toes touched the pacific ocean though I was transformed into one of them. I felt like Mike Love, (gross!) maybe I felt like Harvey Sid Fisher. We knew we were in California when seagulls walked up and stole Mark's rolling papers. He was like, "Dude? Seagull? You don't have to steal man. We can work something out." He was able to chase down the thieving bird and get his zig zags back. I went a bit too far out and came back with wet knees. So I made my way up onto the sandy shore and plopped down right there; no towel, nothing, but me, my wet pants and the sand. I used my sandals for a pillow and my hat for shade. I cannot remember a time recently when I was anymore happy than laying there. The impulses and sparks of responsibility occasionally poked at my guilty conscience. Could it be that I had absolutely nothing to do? Beauty that, I thought.

Eventually I was shaken and peeled off of the ground there. A warm indention of me was all that was left of my 15 minutes of refrain. We trudged back to the showers and the excellent physical specimens in full toned regalia. They are like walking anatomy illustrations. Claude had unfortunately stepped in some kind of oil blob. It darkened a spot in the arch of his foot like a brown storm on a pale planet. (that is a bad metaphor there) haha. But it's accurate. Like bird rescuers in the early days of the BP oil spill, we were unsure of the best way to clean it off. What was that soap, palm olive? He resorted to scraping with a guitar pick, then a hotel key card and finally some newspaper EagleEye fished out of a trash can.

We got over to a great little bar not far from there called Speakeasy. It had a wood paneled, club house feel. The first Monday night football game was on, Pats and Fish. I had a gin n tonic, the day was dying, life was good.

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