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Friday, April 11, 2008

Mykel Makes it to THE Fredericton NB

April Fool's Day +3

I write this at 12:30 PM April Fool's Day + 4. I'm in the Fredericton Public Library, a boring red-brick building near the river, right next to a beautiful “Masonic Church” or something that should be the library. I'll have to run out and move the car in an hour or so. There's a 2 hour time limit on each parking place. It's a nasty little rule that prevents people from freely enjoying the library... But it's punishment for having a car, I guess. Something that needs to be punished, I guess. It's my fault the air is so foul... driving my rental car, I guess.


The hotel sleep is a good one. First time on this trip I sleep right through the night. Maybe it's that I only had one glass of the IPA. Despite the sleep, I feel groggy all day. I down a MOCA LOCA MONSTER (not my favorite-- too milky), but that doesn't help as much as it should.

On the three hour trip from Orono to Fredericton. NOTHING HAPPENS! Once, my MONSTER- induced hunger pangs become too much to bear. Can I find a decent place in small town Maine? Turning off the highway, I stop at the first restaurant I see. I long for a place to eat home cooked food.

Three hours later:

I'm a nervous customs passer. Strange since I've passed though so many customs so many times. Maybe not so strange. In any case, I know that if I'm a tourist coming for some stupid reason, I'm fine. If I want to do anything serious, I'm in trouble. Right now, there's a line of about 10 cars at the single open lane at Canadian border.

I've strewn the front seat with CDs and guidebooksbooks. The customs officer, a muscley crewcut guy in his 30s asks me where I was born.

Noo Yawk,” I tell him.

And what is the purpose of your visit to Canada?” he asks.

I want to write, relax, visit local bookstores and see what I can find.” I tell him.

He repeats my words. I nod. “Okay, you can go,” he tells me.

Ah, excuse me,” I say. “Would you mind stamping my passport? I collect the stamps and...”

No problem,” he says with a smile. “Any particular page you'd like me to stamp?”

Anywhere there's a space,” I say. He stamps the passport and waves me through.

From the border, it's about 45 minutes to Fredericton. The capital city of New Brunswick, it has about 140,000 people, none of whom has ever heard of me. (“Sorry, punk rock's gone from Fredericton,” says the owner of BACKSTREET RECORDS, where I try to peddle my CDs the next day. “I'll buy one from ya' for $7. Just to help you out.”)

I turn off the highway on the approach to Fredericton. It looks like one big strip mall from the highway as far as a drunk could stumble. I stop to call Sarah, my couch-surfing hostess. I want to let her know I'm in town.

Where are you?” I ask.

I'm at the mall,” I joke.

Which mall?” she asks. “The one on the hill or the one up North?”

Holy Hicksville, Batman. Only two malls in the capital city? How do they know when one ends and the other begins?

First impressions are wrong. The ugly strip mall on the way in to town gives way a rustic houses, looking even nicer covered up to the pupik with fresh snow. A thick white comforter. Some places over my head. A joy to the eyes, even if it's a bit treacherous to the driving hands.

Sarah is a Fredericton native. An attractive twenty-something, she's set up a reading for me in the bar she works at. At the last minute, the reading was changed from Friday to Saturday. Something about Friday being too raucus for a reading. At her house is a pal (boyfriend?), Nathan. He's a tall skinny blond who's very friendly, but talks very little. He smokes-- usually a good sign.

Sarah knows everything there is about the city. She tells me about the two malls. She takes me on a driving/walking tour. She knows all the interesting statistics.

I ask her if there are Indians in town. She asks me what kind I mean.

The feather,” I say, “not the turban.”

Oh,” she says, “there's a reservation right in the middle of town. But there's been so much trouble here. We can't call them Indians. We have to say aboriginal people or Native Canadians.

Oy vey. In Australia, aborigine's a taboo word,” I tell her. “How do you keep it straight?”

We don't do straight here,” she says. “This year, Fredericton passed San Francisco as the city with the highest percent gay population in the world... well, in North America.”

Does that include lesbians?” I eagerly ask.

Everybody, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual... you name it.”

I don't. Instead, I ask, “Where do they hang out? Is there a particularly homo part of town? Is there something in the water that turns people gay? Do you bottle it and ship it abroad?”

Oh,” she says, “they hang out in the gay bar.”

THE gay bar?” I say. “Homoville USA... er... CDA, and there's THE gay bar? I don't get it. Is that like THE Gambia?”

Or course, she doesn't get it. Who would?

Well it's the right location,” she says. “It's on Queen Street. But EVERYTHING is on Queen Street. The gay bar is right down the street from THE sex shop...”

I don't ask.

Hey,” she says. “We're right by the sex shop right now. You wanna go in?”

Naw,” I say. “I don't like those kind of places.” Yeah, right, I say that. “You bet!” I tell her.

Inside there are a bunch of videos, dildoes, and a few magazines. No books. On a hook on the wall is the absolutely largest buttplug I've ever seen. It tapers outward from a point as wide as a ten year old's fist to a base the width of a pillar in the Greek Colosseum. It's about a two feet long and called THE CHALLENGER. I'll bet... but the real challenge is the price: $59.95.

Excuse me,” I ask the bored-looking young man behind the cash register. “Can I return this if it doesn't fit?”

He doesn't even smile.

After leaving THE sex shop, we continue our tour.

I bet there's a huge turnout for the gay parade every year,” I say.

There is no gay parade,” Sara tells me. “It's illegal. It's the mayor of Fredericton. If some concerned Christian writes a letter, he passes a law. Somebody complained about gay parades destroying the character of THE CITY. He passed a law against gay parades. A couple years ago, a woman walking home from church was offended by someone walking down Queen Street with a snake. Now it's illegal to walk down Queen Street with a snake... on Sunday.”

You're shittin' me!” I say, smelling a prank.

No, it's true,” she says. “You can look it up.”

I do... and find the law. A by-law actually. But it doesn't say Sunday. You can't have an open snake any day of the week.

I'm hungry,” I tell Sara. “And I could use a beer.”

Sure,” says Sara, “let's go to...”

Don't tell me,” I say. “THE restaurant.”

She laughs. (Great laugh, by the way: easy, friendly, showing lots of teeth.) “Nope,” she says. “It's an organic food bar. Best food in Fredericton... and the worst service. Molly's is the name. Molly is the owner.

Molly turns out to be a thin boomer woman, her long gray hair braided into Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm pigtails. She is not sunny.

From the cashier, a gray-haired man who should be Molly's husband, I place a beer order from an interesting beer menu. I order an Irish Red, made locally. Sarah and Nathan order herbal tea. Then we go to a table and sit down. We talk awhile. No one comes to take our order, or bring the beer and tea. Sarah goes off to have a word with Molly.

Hi Molly,” I hear Sarah say. “Could we have a couple menus? We already ordered drinks.”

There's a grunt in reply. Sarah returns to her seat. The man behind the cash register brings the tea and the beer.

Could we have some sugar and cream?” asks Sarah.

Sugar and cream with herbal tea?” squints the server/cashier/husband. He speaks like a hoity toidy bartender might ask, “Pabst Blue Ribbon with Dom Pérignon?” But, much to his disgust, Sarah and Nathan insist. He goes off to get them.

Within the hour, Molly comes to our table with the menus. Looking at her features, seeing her personality, I then look at the menu. It's expensive. It's vegetarian, but considering the... er... company... I can't resist.

I'll have the Mega-witch,” I say, maybe little too loudly. Molly nods grimly. Maybe she gets it. Sarah and Nathan order something slightly cheaper. Good thing too. I pay for the kit and caboodle. Couch-surfing guests should always buy a meal for their hosts. The same decade as the order, comes the actual food. Molly brings it.

Thank you,” says Sara. Nathan and I echo.

Molly walks away.

You're welcome. No problem. It's my pleasure.” says Sarah to the empty space where Molly stood.

I record Sarah actually talking about the place, but I don't yet have a program that can edit video so you'll have to wait to see it.

After we leave, we discuss the rest of the day. “I have to go to work,” says Sarah. “I work from ten to two in the morning.”

Where do you work?” I ask.

At the gaybar,” she says, “where you'll be reading tomorrow. Come and visit me tonight. So you can see what it's like.”

I do.

Of course, they have an amazing beer menu. I order a blueberry ale, and it's not bad. I settle back to watch the dancers, gyrating on the floor, in a box next to the bar, and on a stage. I can't say I feel comfortable in the place, however. A few things creep me out a bit.

  1. Except for a silent skinny lesbo in a red wool sweater, I'm at least 3 times the age of the oldest person in there.

  2. Except for a hugely fat, hugely entertaining Negress, throwing her body around like she doesn't give a shit, having a great time, (I'm in love!) everybody in the place is white.

  3. Everybody except me, is fruging on the disco floor.

  4. Among the dancers is a tall skinny guy barely twenty. From the neck up, he's a one of those nerdy-sexy guys, with glasses, blonde hair (dark roots), and an asymmetric emo haircut. From the neck down, he's wearing a narrow black top that reveals enough midriff to melt the heart and harden the cock of anybody but the most backward het. Plus: tight low rising jeans, and high heels. Yowsah! (I'm in love!)

  5. Among the dancers, is a skinny girl in a loose t-shirt and Bermuda shorts. She wears a baseball hat and sunglasses. She dances just like a guy. Body and limbs flailing independently, her small breasts rebellious against her t-shirt and her butchitude. An air of coolness covers her self-assured body, like the Johnson's baby oil will cover my accompaniment to future fantasies of this goddess. (I'm in love!)

Needing to... er... adjust myself. I leave BOOM! And head back to Sarah's place. Tomorrow is the show.

(more later)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mykel Visits GG and heads to Fredericton


NOTE: YOU CAN GET LARGER (and other) pix contained
in the blog, by clicking on the link below:

Fredricton Trip

I'm in Quizno's in Manchester NH, trying to contact Jason. I have 40 minutes before they close. I'll be out in the cold. Manchester is VERY cold.

Jason's supposed to be my couch-surfing host for the day. I called a couple times on the way from Boston, but just got voicemail. I wouldn't be surprised if the bitch-goddess (see my previous post to learn my religious views) threw his grandmother out a 12th story window, so he'd suddenly have to leave town to attend the funeral. BUT, I imagined it, so it doesn't happen.

What does happen is some kind of electronic tornado. The vortex of the e-storm is Quizno's in Manchester, New Hampshire. Telecommunications is nigh on impossible. Ssssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr. Ssssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr. All cellphone communication blocked. I walk outside Quizno's to try again. I pushed the JASON button.

“Ssssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr. Ssssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr. Hello youSsssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr. nally.”

“Hello Jason? It's Mykel. I don't know if you can hear me. But I'm in town, at Quiznos on Elm Street. They're going to close soon. You know where Quiznos is?”

“Ssssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr, I do,” he says. “I'll see ySsssshhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrr.”

“Yeah,” I say, “see you.”

Then I return to type these words. During the next 20 minutes, 3 people enter the empty sandwich store. One is a very street-looking kid: big, black, dressed in loose jeans, baseball hat with a perfectly flat brim tilted up and slightly to the right. Something about the guy doesn't seem authentic. Like he's a dean's-list student from the local university, trying to look ghetto. I don't know what it is. His lack of swagger. Some deep intelligence that shows through his walk. The way he doesn't swing his shoulders. I donno. As I puzzle this out, two blond really dumb-looking girls walk in, almost as if choreographed. Both chew gum. Both wear skirts much too short for the freezing weather. (Did I mention that there's snow on the ground? And it's colder than a witches twat... and twice as windy.)

“What can I get you?” asks the vaguely Hispanic girl behind the counter.

“We'd like an application,” says the girl with the higher hair. “We want to work here.”

The hispanic worker looks pleadingly at her boss. He's also behind the counter, a mop in his hands. He shakes his head.

“I'm sorry,” says the counter-worker. “We're not hiring at the moment.”

“That's okay,” says the other one of the pair. They shrug in tandem and walk out of the store.

Passing them on the way in, is a guy wearing jeans, a pink shirt, a maroon tie, with the best chin since Ai... the Drink Club goddess. I don't know what it is, but there's something about chins. Everybody I know who has a really strong chin also has a really strong personality. It's a good sign.

And yeah it is. It's Jason. He takes me from Quizno's to a great brewpub. Another to add to the list. It's called MILLY'S TAVERN, and, like everything else in Manchester, is in an old mill. (Well, a few things are in old factories.) Jason wants to take me to the river, like Al Green. But it's just too cold. I'd need another jacket.

We go inside and check out the beer menu. Neither of us have eaten dinner, so we also check out the food menu. The food is nothing special. Burgers, quesadillas, bar food. But the beer menu well....

Usually a good name suckers me in. But for some reason I order the boringly named John Stark Porter. Clearly the best name is Hopnoxious IPA, but I'm not a big IPA fan.

An IPA is supposed to have: high hop bitterness, high hop aroma, and high alcohol content. At least according to the internet. But mostly, you get the bitterness, and not much else. Sometimes IPAs taste SPOILED... so I usually avoid them.

The porter is excellent. Dark, not quite as thick as Guiness, but still filling enough to make sure I can't finish my quesadilla! I have two of 'em. Porters that is, not quesadillas. So far, they're the best new beer of this trip.

Over dinner we talk. Jason has just come back after teaching 4 years in Egypt. He loved Egypt and the Egyptian people. That's quite a different point of view from my guests from Lebanon! But that's how I like it! And why I like traveling. After a few days you learn that everybody is wrong about everything... including (especially?) you!

After Milly's, we go back to Jason's place... a condo that used to be a shoe factory. They kept the girders, boiler oven door and the smokestack. A cool place to live.

Manchester skyline--
next to the smokeless smokestack
the churchbell doesn't ring

Jason introduces me to his roommate whose name I forget. I'll call him Shasta. He's a tall thin guy, about 20. Now he bends over a computer looking intently at a photo of what looks like himself.

“Admiring yourself?” I ask.

The guy turns to me with a face splitting smile. The kind people fall in love over.

“No,” he says, “it's my brother.”

I hear a faint twinge of an accent. Like he's from Africa, but an English speaking part. Later, Jason mentions that he's from The Gambia.

Yes! Now I'll have the chance to solve one of my life's great mysteries. Why is the Gambia THE Gambia? I know why The Bronx is The Bronx. It used to be plural. Broncks. Plural places use THE: like The Bahamas, The United States, The Philippines. But Gambia??? That's not a plural.

By the time I turn think to ask him about THE, Shasta is off to bed. Me too, I'm ready to go... then it hits me. NO! NO! NO! I am in New Hampshire. I MUST go to GG's grave. I cannot leave the state without a visit.

I quickly check the internet. It's 103 miles away--- in the wrong direction. From there, it's 7 more hours to Canada. Fuck-it, I'm going anyway. I'll pay for a motel one night-- in Maine. I saw an ad for one in a free magazine. Around $60 a night. In a town with a brewpub. Orono Maine. That's tomorrow. I'm gonna do it.

Right now, it's off to get rid of the day's beer, and then hit the sack.



I actually type this on APRIL FOOL'S DAY +3, sitting in Sarah's livingroom in Fredericton New Brunswick. No, that's not in New Jersey. But before I talk about today, I need to finish yesterday, from GG's grave to Orono Maine.

I have great fantasies about visiting GG's grave. There'll be one person-- a beautiful skinny punk girl there. She wears a used white wedding dress-- just starting to fall apart. The dress is a strong contrast to her jet-black hair. She'll have flowers in her hand, white roses, laying them on GG's grave. I'll walk up to her. She'll be startled.

“He.. hello,” she'll say shyly. “Are you here to visit GG?”

I'll nod.

“I'm Mykel Board,” I'll tell her, “I was a pal of GG's. I produced his two ROIR CDs. I played with him in New York. I wrote...”

“Mykel Board!” she'll say. “Of course I know you. You're famous. Let's pay our respects then go back to my apartment and have wild anal intercourse.”

Jason wakes me at 8AM. He offers me some fruit, breakfast cereal, tea. But he DOESN'T HAVE COFFEE. Oh no. It could be deadly. When I wake up, I NEED COFFEE. I'm a caffe-betic. My body is incapable of producing the coffee enzyme on its own. If I don't get it from the outside, I will DIE! I don't mention this to my host, but strain against the pain and have a banana.

Jason's got to go to work, and his roommate has early classes. Same university. They ask if I'd mind driving them.

“It's on the way to GG Allin,” says Jason.

Of course, I don't mind, though I'd rather someone else takes the wheel. I haven't had my coffee yet. I hand Jason the keys. He'll drive. Bags packed, the three of us navigate the factory corridors to the car. As we walk, I talk to Shasta.

“I hear you're from The Gambia,” I tell him.

“That's right,” he says.

“Could I ask you kind of a weird question?” I say.

He looks at me warily, as if I'm going to violate some kind of taboo. Ask him about strange tribal rituals. The length of his body parts.

“Why is The Gambia, THE Gambia? I mean I know why The Bronx is THE Bronx, but Gambia, I don't get it.”

He smiles.

“Well, it's hard to know exactly. There are rumors... stories,” he says. “But what I heard is that there are other African countries. Like Ghana, and Zambia. The English colonialists put THE in so people wouldn't be confused. Gambia, Zambia, it's almost the same. You know the British. They love THE.”

Is he pulling my leg? For now I've got to believe him.

After we hit the university, say our good-byes and it's off to Littleton: the birth and final resting place of GG Allin. Then, an afternoon of wild sex with a goth punk in a wedding dress. Then, back on the road to the special Brewery in Orono and the discount motel. Finally, on to NEW BRUNSWICK, which, according to my guidebook, is home to a soap museum. Something I sure don't want to miss.

Up until today, I thought GG was born and buried in Hooksett Massachusetts. When we pen-palled in the 1980s, all his mail came from there. Too bad, Hooksett, is just north of Manchester. Littleton is a hundred miles away. And I need some coffee!

Early in the drive, I pass a huge mansion looking building. A rambling brick structure that looks like a summer house for the Van der Builts. A beautiful old structure, it's visible from miles away. When I get close I can see the sign out front. Hooksett Public Library! Yowsah! Maybe I can find an internet picture. I can't take one from the moving car. Besides, it's after 11, and I still haven't had any coffee!

[LATE NOTE: Despite having a sign in front that said Hooksett Public Library, the building I thought was the Hooksett Public Library was not. I checked the internet, so it must be true.]

Ah, here's a place. A little country Inn. Rustic with a capital R. Nice, but it could be Mr. Donut... as long as they have COFFEE!

I'm the only person in the place. The waitress hands me a menu and turns to leave.

“Er...” I say. “Could you bring me some coffee? Right away? Please?”

I guess it's the look of severe need imprinted on my face. In a few minutes, she's back with the coffee. I inhale it. What would the world be like without coffee? On this trip I'd been doing coffee more than usual, plus a Monster Energy Drink everyday. Someday they'll combine the two and heaven will lose its appeal. Why die, when you can drink heaven right here on earth?

This little roadside place doesn't serve breakfast. Lunch starts at 11:30. I'm there for openers. I order a salad. To drink? Just water. And more coffee!
                    On the table I notice a beer list. Wow!

A little place in the middle of who-knows-where, with an every day beer list like that? Woodstock Station Red Rack Ale? Old Thumper? Holy He-Brew, Batman. These folks got something here we don't get down south where I come from. Yowsah!

I don't sample the Old Thumper or any other brew. But it's nice to know that folks around here care! A roadside place in New York would have, Bud, Bud Light and maybe a Coors. I pay the bill and head back toward Littleton.

My Neverlost doesn't have directions inside the town. I guess the town's too small to bother with a street map. I'll have to find GG myself.

I pull into the first gas station inside the town limits. I did my homework. I know GG's in the Saint Rose Cemetery. I ask the guys in the gas station office. The Indian guy doesn't know. The other guy tells me, “There are two cemeteries in town. One just up the hill here, and the other down the road about two miles. That's the big one, down the road.”

I thank him and walk out. Then... I'm really pissed at myself. Why didn't I ask? Why didn't I just say, “Which one has GG Allin?” Wadda wimp! I should be ashamed. I'm ashamed.

I head toward the big cemetery, still annoyed at myself for not having the balls to ask. What would they have done to me? Called the sheriff? Yo sheriff., There's another one of those creeps looking for GG Allin. I think you better throw him in the clink where he can get gang raped by unemployed lumberjacks.

I don't think so.

The cemetery is right where the non-Indian gas station guy said it would be. There's a large statue at the entrance. Something to do with some war. Then there's a small driveway. At the end of driveway is a shed with a few gardening trucks parked around it. I get out of the car. Is this the right place? There are no signs anywhere... Saint Rose or not. And there are no people. There's snow, a ton of gravestones, some recently planted American flags. but no people. No mourners. No punkette in a white dress.

I wander around, looking at random tombstones. No GG Allin. Wait! There are a couple people over there. They look like gardeners. I WILL ASK!

I trudge across the remains of dozens of locals until I reach the guys. One is about my age, blond and husky. The other is in his twenties, lanky, kinda handsome. As I get closer I realize they're digging a grave. I've never talked to gravediggers before. They're a little scary. But I will NOT wimp out.

“Excuse me,” I ask.

They stop their digging and stand up, looking at me. Not sardonic, exactly, but not Laurel and Hardy either.

“Is this the Saint Rose cemetery?” I ask.

“Nope,” says the older one.

“Do you know where it is?” I ask.

“Yep,” says the younger one. That's all he says.

“Umm...” I say.

“We were just jokin' with ya,” says the older guy, suddenly breaking into a smile. “It's right over there, next to this one.”

“Do you know were GG Allin is?” I ask.

“Oh sure,” says the young guy. He gives me directions to the tombstone, making a little map in the snow. It's weird he knows, I think.

“I guess people come here and ask you all the time,” I say.

“Yep,” he says.

“Has a punk rocker in a white dress...” I don't ask.

GG's grave is a couple rows in from the street. It's a good size stone, easy to find. Who could miss ROCK'N'ROLL TERRORIST among the YOU'RE IN A BETTER PLACE NOWs? Next to the tombstone is a huge EMPTY bottle. The label is mostly gone. I'm guessing Jim Beam, GG's favorite. There's also a full airline-size bottle of JB, and an empty can of MONSTER! Hubba hubba! There is no goth woman in a white dress. There's no nobody.

I take out my camera, put it on the headstone across from GG, set the auto-timer and run around for the picture of me and GG.

Then I notice that the tombstone is double duty. I've never seen anything like it before. It must be a discount brand. Half as expensive for half as much tombstone. Usually one side is blank anyway, right? Why not make a few bucks and sell the back to someone else?

On the front of the headstone is: GG ALLIN Live Fast Die! On the back is a picture of a praying Jesus and the name GUNTHER with the inscription Till We Meet and Never Part. Poor guy. Little did he know who he was gonna never part with. Meet? I doubt it. Unless Gunther was a nasty guy, GG and he are in very different places.

[Last minute addition]. I got a message from GG lover and guitar play, Justion Melkmann. He visited GG's grave as well as his (GG's) mother. He was making a comic book about his obsession with GG. Suddenly it hit him after seeing what I wrote. Gunther, he says, is GG's mom's maiden name. So the tombstone must be a place-holder for her to be buried by her son. Too touching for my taste. I've got the better story. Justin has THE TRUTH. Which do you want?

I spend about half an hour with GG and Gunther, then head back northeast. Somewhere between Littleton and Orono, I stop for gas. There, in the window of the gas station office is an advertisement.

Wowee!! GG was listening to me. Reaching up from hell he manipulated the minds at Monster and they followed my bidding. Thanks, GG. But why couldn't you have done it with the girl in the wedding dress?

Next stop, University Inn. Hopefully, my only motel of the trip. It's pretty standard fare. They

want to let me know they participate in this new environmental program. A co-op of “mid-priced hotels.” It's promoted with laminated brochures with pictures of pandas and parrots. And the great way the motel is saving the world? They don't wash their linens.

That's right. In order to save the world's resources of soap and water, they use less of it. Of course, you can decline to participate. It's right there on the brochure. But if you don't participate, you're personally responsible for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. You're personally wasting hundreds of gallons of water and fouling thousands of acres of wetland with the soap used to wash YOUR bedclothes.

Look Mr. Hotel, if you want to save money on water and soap. That's okay. It's a business. If you want me to help, pay me for it. Give me a discount. But PUL-EASE, don't ask me to sleep in my own filth and then YOU go take credit for a hotel program to save the environment. Maybe the environment around the your bank account.

The girls at the front desk are helpful, but lack some kind of spark. I donno. I guess at a hotel you see everything, so nothing is funny anymore. All those spy cams behind the mirrors in the rooms. Not much left to joke about, is there?

“You a beer drinker?” I ask the chubbier of the two young deskgirls. “I'm looking for a famous brewpub around here. They make their own beer, and I wanna try it.”

“Oh,” she replies, “you're talking about the Bearmarket Pub. You can walk there from here. It's just over the bridge.”

“What's good there?” I ask.

“Oh, I don't like dark beer. But they make a great Peach Ale.”

“Thanks,” I say and head out the door, across the bridge to the pub. It's cold, so a nice thick stout (pleonasm?) will do perfectly.

As I enter, I see the attractive waitress speaking with some guys at a table.

“We're out of stout,” she says.

The place could be any country bar in any country college town. Lots of 20-somethings... kids saying hi to their friends, ignoring strangers. (Especially strange guys who look like Dick Tracy sitting by themselves at a table for four, writing on tiny cards.) There are more beards and wool caps than you'd see in New York. But in New York, they'd make you take off your hat. It's redneck protection, I guess.

The waitress brings me the menu. “I overheard that you were out of stout,” I tell her. “So I'll take your Tuff End.” (I love the feeling of saying I'll take your Tuff End to an attractive waitress.)

“Sorry,” she says. “We're out. We're out of all our Bearbrew Beers... except the IPA.”

One drink later, I'm back at the hotel. I climb into one of the two twin beds... with my boots on. Then I take a shower and use every towel in the bathroom to dry myself. Next, I take care of my ... er... personal night-time needs, cleaning up with the same sheet I wiped my boots on.

Then, since I'm only staying for one night, I hang the “I will participate in the Hotel Conservation Program” sign on my door, and go to bed. I sleep through the night... best sleep so far this trip.

[Oh yeah, a note on the beer: Nice brown color by no head to speak of. Tastes just like the first beer of this trip. Very simple. Okay bitter bite with no front of mouth taste. As for the restaurant, there's only one waitress for the place. The food takes awhile (only one cook?) even for a sandwich.]

(More in the next few days)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Mykel's True April Fool's Trip To Fredricton

Even if nothing can go wrong,

it STILL will go wrong.
--Board's Law

TUESDAY: April Fools Day 2008

I shudda known. Who's the fool, April? I don't think so.

I sit in a cubical at the Greenwich Connecticut Public Library. One of them anyway. One of the cubicals, that is. Most of the other cubicals are fitted with computers. Internet attached I guess. At each computer a white person sits typing away. The sole Negress sits across from me. Early middle aged, with a plump face, oval glasses, she sits chin resting on her hand, intently reading what's on the screen.

Me? I'm cold. Worried I'm sick. With a hangover type headache, not from a hangover, but from lack of sleep and the two Benadryl that I had to take to finally bring it on. It's 11:43AM. I've been on the road for less than 3 hours, already the trip is a disaster.

Right now, I've got a vague urge to piss, a chill, this headache, a temper on knife-edge nourished by the electronic beep of the book check-out machines.

Where to start? From last week when everything looked set? Tuesday night I stay with Kerri in Vermont. Wednesday with Jason in New Hampshire. Thursday-Saturday with Sarah in Fredericton New Brunswick. Then back to Boston with Lucho and maybe see the folks coming back to New York. On the way, I write, read, visit breweries and relax. Far from hecticity. Right? Yeah, right.

Last weekend I have a couple couch surfers from Lebanon. Great guys-- married couple I think. They sleep on the couch. They only stay for one night. They cook for me even though they'll be gone when I return. I get home the next night, there's food on the stove. Made from parlsey, basmati rice and I don't know what else. It's delicious. I go into the refrigerator to fetch a beer to enjoy it with. The refrigerator door is open a bit. That's bad. Cold air leaking out could cost a fortune. Long enough, it could spoil the food. Maybe the Lebanese forgot to close it.

I push it closed. It opens again.

I shuffle food around and close the door again. It opens.

I check the shelves on the door to see if they're hitting against something. Doesn't look like it. I push back the food on the internal shelves and shut the door again. It opens. I open the door fully. All the way.

The entire shelf unit on the inside of the door falls off. BANG! One fell swoop. On the floor. Vitamins, film, water, juice. BANG! On the floor. One piece. Now lots of pieces. Looks like it was held up with four screws through plastic. The screws are still there. The plastic just broke around them. Two long pieces of styrofoam stuck in the back to support the plastic. In the door behind the shelves, it looks like compressed newspaper.

I take the broken shelf rack to the basement, taping to it a note to my landlord: ALAN! I THINK I NEED A NEW REFERIGERATOR. Back in my apartment, the door now closes. But for some reason, the food is beginning to smell bad.

There's nothing I can do, so-- as is usual when there is nothing I can do-- I check my email. There is a note from Kerri.

First some background: I contacted Kerri several weeks earlier through I asked if I could stay there for a night. She said sure. The next week, I got a caveat:

I should warn you, cabin fever has been getting the
best of me lately, so I've been a little crazy and
more sketched out than I usually am. I'm kind of like
a loose cannon this time of year, so look out. I'm not
dangerous or anything, I just never know how I'm going
to react to shit. I mean, a thing about the iditarod
was on the radio the other day and I started crying.
Now you can't say that you weren't warned.
I am looking forward to your visit though! I hope
some of the snow has subsided by the time you arrive,
otherwise the house's numbers will still be buried in
a snowbank and even your GPS won't get you to all
those windows.

So I wrote back saying I could understand the cabin fever and I thought I might be able to ease it a bit by bringing along something in a brown bottle.

Kerri replies:

It appears that you have some sound reasoning there.
I love brown bottles. Especially those filled with

So I go down the block to my local discount liquor joint and picked up a fifth of OLD CROW. One of the hardest core brown bottle bourbons I know. Not the most expensive brand, but not the cheapest either. I figure, a girl, me and a bottle of bourbon. Who knows?

OK, so latter in the week, I write to confirm my arrival time. I also tell her I'll be bringing a bottle. She writes back:

Hey Mykel,
Sounds good. The number of the house we're staying at is 802-***-****.
If you get lost the night of arriving, call that number. I'm not sure what
time the owners are leaving, I meet with them Saturday, so I"ll let you
know what time you can call that number after.
And you should know, I probably won't drink any that night. Once
I have one drink, I can't stop and I can't be hung over for work. However,
a friend of mine might be stopping by, so he might partake with you. I'd
love to have some whiskey, but being a young alcoholic who's sobered
up once before, I try not to drink anyway, especially on a school night!

Ah well, that kills that idea. She probably invited some guy to humor me, and figure out the whiskey equation. Oh well, I'll share with this guy. Who knows? Maybe HE's attractive. I finish packing, suddenly noticing that I've developed a cough. Also, there seems to be a strange odor--- like rotten food-- coming from the kitchen. I guess I'd better take out the garbage.

In the meantime, my parents are not fairing well in New Jersey. My father has either been asleep or in pain for weeks. My mother's alzheimers can only get worse. They're in no shape to go out to eat anymore. My visits are torture, for me, if not for them.

Lately their bank account has gone bust-- due to the $15,000 a month facility they're in. (Isn't America wonderful?) They need to be moved to a cheaper room. I've negotiated a deal with THE HOME. On my last visit, they tell me that the move will take place while I'm on my trip.

“Of course you'll have to arrange to pick up what we can't get in the new, smaller room,” says the headmistress.

“Of course,” I answer.

When I get home, I'll call my sister.

When I get home there's another email from Kerri. This one says,

Do you have an idea of what time you'll be arriving tomorrow? If
you're arriving on the earlier evening side (7-8pm), I'd be happy to
make some dinner for you, or leave some dinner for you to reheat.
Please let me know today if you can. I think a pal of mine is going
to join me/us for dinner that night anyway. The house we're at just
got a new pool table and she's dying to play. Talk to you soon.

SHE's dying to play. Hubba hubba. That's what I need is a couple girls dying to play.

I email her back that I'm not sure when I'll arrive, probably not before 8, but if she'd like to leave some food for me, that'd be terrific. In any case, I'd love to meet her pal and I have a brown bottle to share with her.

In the meantime, I eat at Wendy's across the street. My refrigerator's useless, only making expensive grinding noises.

MONDAY: April Fools Day-1 2008

It's the last night before I leave. I'm going to dinner with Marilyn, Bob and some friends. I haven't seen either and I'm looking forward to it. An Italian restaurant. Cucina Something-or-other. 10 minutes away. I memorize the address and head down Bleecker Street. Passing CVS, I stop to laugh at a sign in the door of that store:

I imagine someone walking in with Fido.

“I'm sorry sir, no dogs allowed. Didn't you see the sign?”

“The sign, sure I saw it. But I'm not being carried. I'm coming in on my own two feet!”

I get to the address of the Italian restaurant and there's no restaurant there. At least no Cucina something. There is a hamburger place. That's it. I call Marilyn, then immediately realize that my lysdexia has put me on the wrong corner. We meet at the REAL restaurant. It's empty. We decide to have drinks and appetizers while we wait for the others. We've both been looking forward to Italian. Pasta, ya know.

The waitress brings us the menu: Gyoza, kimchi, tofu...

Marilyn orders half the wine menu: a glass of house white. I order a Gyoza and a Sam Adams. The place is still empty. Food is cheap, though. I'm willing to change my tastebuds for the price. Marilyn isn't so sure.

A tall guy with curly hair walks in the door. He loudly asks the Maitress 'd if there's “going to be jazz tonight.” She shakes her head. Marilyn and I give each other the high fives. We both hate jazz.

Before our food comes, Bob arrives with his guests. He enters comes over to our table and speaks to me. “Sorry, Mykel,” he says. “There's no jazz tonight. We're going to THE GARAGE, around the corner. They've got jazz there.”

Marilyn and I finish our appetizers, pack up and go around the corner. To THE GARAGE. To say the place has jazz is like saying Dolly Parton has breasts. FIFTEEN MUSCIANS... AT THE SAME TIME. Drums, trumpets, saxes (two girl saxophone players), and a flute! Exactly what this world needs in a time of war and economic crises: A jazz flute. Entrees here are in the high twenties. Coffee is TWELVE DOLLARS. Then the band starts to play. Hoo-ey!

Back home, my apartment smells worse than before. I'll deal. I'll deal. I just need to get out. I leave tomorrow morning. Try to get some sleep. In bed by 11AM. I can't fall asleep. I've been having trouble lately. Just my mind racing. Or a sudden coughing/sneezing fit. Always waking up and blowing out tissue full of blood and snot.

11: 30. Midnight. I try a Rosy Palm tranquilizer. It doesn't work. 12:30. 1PM. Another Rosy palm. Twice in 2 hours. Not bad for my age. 1:30. I still can't fall asleep. I pop a couple of Benadryl. I know they'll give me a drug hangover, but at least I'll get a couple hours sleep. One last peek at the email before I hit the hay. A message from Kerri:

OH! Soooooooo, I'm kind of an idiot. There is a good
chance that I may arrive home after you have arrived.
I have this alcohol panel to attend tomorrow night and I
probably won't get home until after 10. That being said,
I highly recommend that you feed yourself before arriving,
because I'm not going to have time to make dinner and
there probably won't be any prepared food in the house.
So yea. See you at some point tomorrow night.

What the hell is an alcohol panel? Is it some kind of art show? A new kitchen cabinet design? I'm already stressed out between my parents, the refrigerator, my lack of sleep, and the developing cough, caused no doubt, by the mold spores growing within my refrigerator. Maybe that's where the bloody boogers come from. I've probably got anthrax.

Having lost my patience with my sleep, I fire off an email to Kerri and decide to go to Boston instead of Vermont. I briefly think about staying at a Motel 6 so I can sleep as much as I want, but then think about the $75 it'll cost me just to lie down. I email my pal Kathy in Cambridge and hope I can just show up today. She always has a bed for me, sometimes dinner.

TUESDAY: April Fools Day 2008

That's where we stand now. I'm in Greenwich, on the way to Boston. I want to hit a Brewery in Norwalk first, and then I'll hit Kathy... maybe. There's always Board's law...

Oh yeah, the purposes of this trip:

  1. Get away from New York and the problems and worries there.

  2. Meet new people find out how they're living. Have a drink or two with 'em and if they're attractive...

  3. Write, spend some time in front of the computer, un-fettered, free to spend time in peace in libraries in New England, and Canada. I need to write:

    1. This Blog.

    2. An article I started long ago called, THE ONLY THING THAT SUCKS WORSE THAN NEW YORK IS NEW YORKERS.

    3. A proposal for a documentary movie I have an idea for.

    4. A novel I want to write where the heroes are a prostitute, a mugger, and a kiddie porn maker... Those are the good guys.

  4. Do at least 1 speaking engagement to sell some books and get even more famous

  5. Visit micro-breweries to sample the wares of some new beers.

  6. Learn Dutch: I'm bringing along my language CDs

  7. The usual: go places I've never gone before, meet people I've never met before, “meet” people I've never “met” before, do things I've never done before.

From this point in the blog: I write THE NEXT DAY (April Fools+1), but as the events unfolded yesterday, I'll put them in this section.

I'm writing this in Haverhill Mass. In the public library on Main Street. In the MORTON FAMILY reading room. At the table on my left two guys discuss insurance. I am NOT making this up. I think one guy is training the other on how to work some insurance scam. I'm not sure. One of the guys wears a sweatshirt. On the back of it a large shamrock is woven over the Irish flag. I can't see the front. The other guy wears a casual white shirt under a bulky red sweater. Both wear jeans and Nike-looking sneakers. Both are... er... big.

and you're looking at $453 a month, plus... let's say you're... mumble mumble mumble... Let's say on top of that, you get one reverse mortgage per month... you're gonna get a discussion of social security, husband's social security... the minimum you make is $1500 on a reverse mortgage, so you only have to sell one a month....and 401K and IRA and CDs, and if you sell...

BACK TO YESTERDAY: From the Greenwich library, I head to my first brewery: The New England Brewing Company in Norwalk Connecticutt. Hertz's GPS system, called Neverlost (it underestimates me), gets me to the address in the beer book. Outside the building are huge silos..

Wow! I think, that's a lot of beer for a microbrewery. Maybe I shudda called ahead for a tour. The building number, according to the guide is 25, but the inside looks demolished. Among the rubble, some carpenters build what look like bookshelves.

Um, is this the New England Brewing Company?” I ask.

One of the guys, a big guy guy with a flannel jacket, long thick blond hair and thick blond beard looks up from his work.

Used to be,” he says. “About ten years ago.”

No beer for ten years?” I ask.

He laughs. “I guess not.” he says.

I never find out what's in the silos.

When the weather gets better, you'll see people just sitting out in their yard, talking. Just stop by, give 'em your card. Chat. There so much more you can do. You can meet these people everywhere...

When I get back to the car, I check the date on my beer book. 1995. That's gonna make this even more of an adventure. I check the listings for a brewery in the neighborhood. There's one in Northampton Mass. I plug it into the old Neverlost and see what shows up. There it is, only 110 miles away.

As I head off, there's my cellphone vibrates in my pocket. I hate those things. I never answer them in the car. I wish I could never answer them period. But with sick parents...

I look at the number. The call's from Kathy.

It's here that I need to talk about theology. For those who aren't familiar with mine, I'll clue you in:

God is a 9 foot tall blonde in a black leather bikini. She wields a cat o' nine tails. Her job is to make your life miserable. So miserable, in fact, that you'll decide to do yourself in. Just put an end to it all. Everybody dies at the end of life, but if you kill yourself, she wins. If she has to kill you... you win. That's why your life is so miserable... it's the bitch goddess. Playing games with you.

One of her tricks is to stay unpredictable. If you know what she's going to do, you can make adjustments. Get ready. Surprise is her most important weapons. She can fuck-up a refrigerator with a flick of the wrist. She can plant a couple biddies behind you at the library. She can close a brewery 10 years ago. But she won't have an old friend call you to say you can't stay there because she's out of town. THAT is just too predictable. Kathy's home. She'll see me tonight. She'll make dinner.

The Northampton Brewery's actually a brew pub. It's got a great copper kettle behind glass next to the bar. The crowd looks like college kids, with a few regulars clustered around the bartender. The bartender looks just like that big blond guy from the used-to-be Connecticut brewery. Maybe it's a New England type.

On a chalkboard are the beers of the day, including a spring bock I'm sorry I don't try. I do try the Dog Ale, the one mentioned in the guide book. I order it with a grilled shrimp salad. The beer has a nice dark color. At first it's tasteless, but like Mexican food, it hits on the way down. There's a nice bite, just a touch of bitterness at the back of the throat. Unlike Mexican food, nicer on the out-take than the intake. I rate it as better than average. Worth a trip, but not a 110 mile one.

The salad, by the way, is really good. Shrimp much spicier than typical New York fare. Generous portion too. After I pay, I walk up to the bar and and ask the tender,“Do you mind if I put you up against the wall and shoot you?”

He doesn't mind. I even got a local.

Wednesday: April Fools Day+1 2008

Right now: I can't figure out if I have a headache. I was awakened by one at 6:00AM. A horrible one-sider, not a migraine. Lodging itself in a sinus just above my right eye, it spread on and off to the top of my head. I lay in bed, thinking if I'm going to get up, go to the car, and get the aspirin I'd bought the previous headache that was killing me. The one I chalked up to lack of sleep the night before.

the thing you've got to do is get an overview of their financial situation without dwelling... without mentioning how tight money is... I told you we work exclusively with seniors...the person I'm looking for is probably between the ages of 68 to 80 at the most... probably someone who has children or family they care about... maybe somebody you meet at McDonalds... maybe somebody you shop with... you'll meet 'em and take them through slow...

Finally I get up from Kathy's comfortable guest bed, put my pants on, my shirt, fumble out to the hall get my coat go to the car, and amazingly enough FIND THE ASPIRIN. I pop a couple and lie back in bed, falling asleep as they work. My brain plays psychedelic tricks on the inside of my eyelids. Black on black swirls, like a dripping spiderweb, with little points of brightness, form themselves into Bruegelesque creatures-from-the-inferno of my unconscious. Fishlike spermish gobs, swimming through the blackness. Dissolving into lines or other creatures. I follow them, one at a time, until I fall back asleep.

the moth's moving silhouette
across the table

The insurance guys have left, now I have a table of biddies in back of me. I need to learn to CONCENTRATE! Maybe I should write in cafés. Ah well, I'm up to date now. I think I'll hit the road, a brew pub, lunch, and one more library.

The pub: MARTHA'S EXCHANGE in Nashua New Hamphire.

Maybe it's the first time I've been in the state since I visited my sister at college in the 70s. LIVE FREE OR DIE is the state motto. I could never figure out if it was supposed to be a statement of fact or a command.

The pub isn't listed in the barbook. I'm lucky I found it in the Fodor's guide I borrowed from NY Public. At 2PM the Brewpub is just opening. A few regulars drink silently at the bar. That U-shaped bar dominates the center of the place. On one side are diner-like booth. On the other, a DJ section, and more tables. Right now, it's quieter than the library. I ask the bartendress for something brown, but not black. And just a bit bitter.

Well, I don't drink that much beer,” she says, “so everything tastes bitter to me. Maybe you should try the Wederstasdf dubblerok.”

I didn't get that,” I tell her. “It sounds like you said The weatherman's double rocks. Is that a concert review?”

She speaks slowly, like you might talk to a foreigner who says he knows only small English. Small. Small. “Wea-ther-top dub-bel bahk,” she says. (Later, when I get my bill, I see it's Weathertop Doppelbock.)

Still not understanding, but not wanting to sound like a foreigner who knows only small English. Small. Small. I nod and say, “Ah sure, give me some of that.... and some Buffallo wings,” Then, I head off to relieve myself of the morning's coffee and breakfast.

The men's room is ultra mod. With one of those door-closing- private-room-junkie-heaven toilets. The only problem is: by the time you stand up and turn around to admire your artwork and production level, the thing has already self-flushed. You never know how good you're supposed to feel.

The sink... well, I don't know what it is with sinks these days, but there's no lack of new ideas. How 'bout glass-on-glass with tubes?

When I get back to the bar, a nice dark-colored beer waits for me. It has more front-tongue taste than the Northampton beer. Enough to keep it tasty all the way through the decently spicy Buffalo Wings.

The actual brewing set up looks a lot bigger than Northampton's with several kettles in the back, and an real brewmaster running around running things. Looks proud of his work, doesn't he?

After Martha's Exchange, it's the library. HILL'S MEMORIAL, in Hudson New Hampshire.

And that library: Maybe the most unintentionally beautiful libraries I've ever seen:

Made out of stone, it's one of those buildings you could walk around and look at for hours. It was built in 1909, but looks much older. It's in the U.S. registry of notable places.

You're really lucky to work in a place like this,” I tell the librarian.

All that stone,” she says, “really gets in the way of WiFi connections and such. We're up to our necks in wires.”

country library
overheard on the reference line
and that's
The Dharma Burns?

5:44PM. Time to hit the road again. Next couchsurfer or....

7:17 Manchester New Hampshire. I can't believe I'm in New Hapshire without visiting GG Allin's grave. I don't even know where it is exactly. I thought it was in Hookset, his hometown, but I just read it was someplace else. Someplace that surprised me. Tomorrow is the long hall to Canada. So I doubt if I'll be able to do it then. Ah well, it's only a rock and some bones I'll never see. But who knows who I'd meet?

Right now I'm in Quiznos, one of the few places open at 7:30 where you can still get a cup of coffee. Jason says he's on his way. 10 minutes ago he said 20 minutes. The shop closes in half an hour. It's cold outside, my car is parked in a free space. (I hope.) I wanted to park near the library. I did. The library is closed.... more reports during the next few days.