APRIL FOOL'S DAY +1 PART 2
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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.
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.
APRIL FOOL'S DAY +2
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'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.”
“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)