Parlour Steps descend a freeway staircase into California for the blessed mistress Rawk and Roll!
5 Days on the road
Total Kilometers: 4,106
We head out on a moist, grey duvet-cloud covered Thursday morning, March 23rd, 2006. Spring smells ripe in the air. Two cars, one with gear and newly minted Yankee, passport carrying Caleb, the other car with the sneaky Canadian contingent of the P. Steps. Yes, there was some lying demanded by this rawk itch of ours - a script pre-meditated, said straight into the eyes of Customs and Immigration. Tight Honda Civic filled to bursting with guitars, drums, sleeping bags, back-packs, egg-shell white Vancouverites - go, Civic, go! Our blessed chariot.
The border opened to us like golden gates of obese opportunity, promising an arterial working of freeways and overpasses, truck stops and endlessly pegged power lines, strung like threads of highway sutures. We find the sun in Washington, awoken from our naps by its cooking. "What the hell is that orange orb in the sky?" We are aflutter as we try and follow it south, to the American Dream.
We arrive into the welcoming arms of Rees' aunt and uncle, Jim and Lois, in cul de sac Eugene. Soft beds and breakfast, the offer of their spare 2002 Isuzu SUV. Rob and I are reluctant to accept the green beast until we find out it has a working CD player, a dignified upgrade from our battery-powered speaker rig in the Civic. Air conditioned, leather seats, lumbar support, power windows ( that become indispensable after three days of taco joints). Heaven, blissful gas-guzzling heaven.
It is only day two when Julie threatens us with untold retribution if we keep up the Taco Bell visits. Rees, for the remainder of the trip, displays an uncannily keen sense for sighting every taco/ Mexican restaurant we come across.
San Francisco greets us with an explosion of a million glowing break lights, traffic like an apocalyptic exodus, and warm gushing rain. God Bless the HOV lanes as we scurry past drivers seen reading, chatting on cell-phones, drinking beer, singing loud and proud, bouncing to hip-hop pulses. We find Edinburgh Castle, our first venue, and its back-room grunge vibe. Check-in to the Monarch hotel up the block, fill our bellies with marvelous Thai curries and noodles, and hit the stage early. We try our best to russle in the crowd from the pool shooters and after work drinkers, wrangling a tight supportive crowd. The grounding is erroneous and arcs into our teeth through the microphone. Jenn Leibhart emerges from the dark and gives me a swig of her Maker's Mark and all is right with the world. We commence getting drunk on questionable draft and cool California conversation. Jenn introduces us to her friends, Mark and Emily. Words swirl about, we play some pool and pinball, we decifer that most everybody in the group has fine oral hygiene, and the rank smell of the bar turns comforting and normal. Tonight we are all just punkers. See some photos.
Little sleep later, to the heavy-machinations of San Fran waking up Saturday morning, I feel rough and alive, keenly aware of a pulsing head and a glorious sun meeting our eyes. In the greasy spoon diner owned by a cute Japanese couple, our slow brains are easily entranced by an old fella in 1930's golf attire sleighting his way through some solid card tricks. We're taken with the beautiful facades of the Mission district and its old-timer card tricksters. Los Angeles and the highway leading to its heart beckons us.
Four lanes turns to eight. A meditative state overtakes our road-weary brains. This starts to seem all so normal, somehow.
Lava Lounge in Los Angeles is a rockabilly heaven of tikki wall hangings and warm red lights. We play our little hearts out to a packed room and get good vibes rushing back at us. I fall in love with Que Sera guitar player's Fender Twin amp. We make some quick friends and head for well deserved bed at Rees' friend, Paul's, apartment.
We start the 2000 kilometer drive back with a belly full of coffee and dreams of our own beds. The rest was delirious word games, song written about each other, gibberish and lots of pavement. We give major thanks to all that gave us aid, a place to stay, and words of direction and advice. You leave us hopeful for this world that seems to have shrunken a tiny bit.
Love, Parlour Steps