Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Leave a Comment
By the time we played Daytona for the first time, our Florida friends would often jump in the van and ride with us to the next town. Other times they would just randomly show up at a show because we were playing in their hometown on the holidays or something. I can’t recall how it was that Jessica from Gainesville ended up at our Black-Eyed Susan’s show in Daytona, but somehow we all ended up walking on the beach. I am sure that the conversation was something like “Nirvana- Greatest band of the ’90s? Or Greatest Band EVER?” I remember that it was the off-season, and the beach was pleasantly quiet. Just a half-dozen people, quietly walking and talking on the beach. These are the sorts of things I remember most fondly about touring.
Years later in a completely different context, I would meet Trey, the guitar player from Two-Story People and he would mention walking on the beach that night and I realized it’s a small, small world. Trey is now in the phenomenal band The Gary.
The Black-Eyed Susan was in this cool spot- a stucco and tile building in the mid-Century Florida style, just a short walk from the beach. Because the club was an all-ages venue they also had some drinks that were non-alcoholic, including Thai iced tea. I drank a lot of that tea. A LOT. They eventually told me “OK, that’s enough. ENOUGH.”
I have two favorite stories from the Black-Eyed Susan. One happened when I wasn’t even there:
The guys who ran the B.E.S. were Jason, Aaron, Ray Ray and Jon, if I remember correctly. They were all young guys, all terrifyingly smart and funny, and it was really a joy to play their club. Five Eight ended up becoming closest, probably, to Ray Ray, or Ray Fernandez, as he is known to the authorities. Ray’s family was large and somewhat conservative. He was the youngest of many brothers and the very apple of his mother’s eye. She wasn’t so sure about the idea of Ray running off downtown to open a bar with a bunch of other guys. She was convinced he was going to end up addicted to drugs and worshiping Satan while dying in a gutter somewhere. Ray, of course, assured her that everything was fine. It was just some guys running a music club.
There were two video screens in the club, one at each end of the bar. One day before they officially opened the door, someone turned up with a VHS tape with some kind of bizarre porn on it. “You guys… you’re not going to believe this…” kind of weird porn. OF COURSE someone had to put it up on the screens just so they could check out this example of human depravity and to appreciate it for its athletic merits and as a tribute to the grit and tenacity it takes to sink that low. Ray was there with one or two other of the guys who ran the place, they’re scrubbing down the bar getting ready to open, and there’s this impressively gross bit of bad behavior grunting away on the two big screens.
And that’s when Ray’s mom drops by to remind him to wash his hands or something.
Ray later said “It was like opera.” His mother came in, turned the corner and saw what was playing on the screens. Ray lunged for the “off” button, but it was too late. His mother stood in the middle of the room, her face a mirror of Munch’s ‘The Scream,’ but with no sound. She was gasping like a fish, unable to speak until she finally turned her eyes to Heaven and moaned “WHY…? WHY DOES HE LIE TO ME???”
The other story is from a different trip to Daytona. I don’t remember how many times we played Black-Eyed Susan, but I do know that at least once I went looking for a payphone. I found one at a nearby bar that was largely deserted except for the quiet murmuring of a handful of day drinkers and a flickering television at the far end of the bar. I made my way through the haze of cigarette smoke to the phone in the men’s room (remember when bars used to do this? So you could call home and pretend to still be at the office?) and noticed on my way that there was a guy who appeared to have dozed off while hanging on to the bar. His hands were curled around the lip of the bar the way a bird’s feet grip a wire, and he seemed to be sort of suspended there out of habit, as if he were frozen in mid-collapse. I could see that he had knuckle tattoos.
You may not know this, but I am a connoisseur of knuckle tattoos. I think they’re one of the great tattoo canvases and can be a real showcase of a person’s wit. One of my friends who is a tattoo artist has “FOOD” and “RENT” tattooed across his knuckles. My favorite mechanic has “THIS” and “THAT” on his knuckles. Noah Ray from my old band Music Hates You has “LOSE” and “LOSE,” which is a favorite. But this guy in Daytona had a pretty impressive one. Across his knuckles, in permanent, stark black letters, were the words “BEER” and “TITS.”
“Sir,” I said to him, though he was clearly somewhere far away, “You are both winning and losing at life at the same time… and I salute you.”