As I have long maintained, one of the largest shortcomings in the United States is the absolutely terrible conditions of public bathrooms. Playing in a traveling rock band has made me much more tolerant of facilities that normal human beings would recoil from in fear and horror. Please note that a number of years ago, I would never have taken a dump in a gas station. I would endure abdominal pain like a Japanese POW while waiting however long it was necessary for a "home game". Other people I know have never been that picky. Heck, after being on the road so long, our drummer Leo has descended into being a half step above a farm animal in his toilet requirements.
Let me tell you about a game I like to play with Leo. The game is that he will drink anything I buy him from a gas station (assuming that it is meant to be consumed as foodstuff, and is not something like wiper fluid). While getting gas at a Duke Gas Station somewhere in the bowels of Southern Ohio, I purchased an 16 oz off brand energy drink for Leo. As opposed to jacking him up, the drink appeared to have no effect as he fell asleep about 20 minutes later. It was then the real effect kicked in, as he announced we had to pull over immediately
to the first bathroom facility available.
We stopped at the next exit at a really creepy gas station/Dairy Queen/motel/lounge. It being Saturday night, the rural residents of the community were stopping in for a peanut buster parfait as the perfect West Vg night cap. Couples and families appeared to be very pleased with themselves as they strolled around the convenience store merchandise while enjoying their treats. You know they care about you, the customer, because as soon as you walk into this multi headed service mecca, a large hand painted sign directs you to "Clean Restrooms". Leo immediately noted the sign and cut across the store in that half walk-half run that signifies a gastrointestinal crisis of the highest order. The strange thing about this bathroom was that it was set just off the store, with no buffer zone of any kind. You opened the door and POW! you were standing next to one of the largest arrays of pork rinds I have ever seen.
Me? I would have frozen up and not have been able to go. It was like taking a shit in a bucket squatting in the middle of the room behind a shower curtain. Leo? No problem. I'm not sure exactly what happened in there, but I did hear it described as "a Tour-de-Force of sound, smell, and sensory overload". Mothers grabbed their children and hustled them out of there like their children's innocence was at stake. (It was.) Grown men turned their heads from across the room in obvious concern. It was like someone had shot a can of beef stew out of a fire hose. It wasn't pretty. Leo himself commented afterwards, "It was all power...pure power."
Almost none of you reading this would have gone into that bathroom and done that. It was small, dirty, and very very
public. Leo has become so ambivalent about these horrible bathrooms, it didn't faze him at all. It's all conditioning I suppose. Still, there are bathrooms even we won't dare enter. A normal human being walks into any of these bathrooms, and the vision of them etch into the brain like a murder scene. To enter into any of the following bathrooms is to face your darkest nightmares. I present this to you as a service...
In no particular order:
* Newark Airport late afternoon on a weekday, domestic terminal
* Shell Station, Bishop Rd in Willoughby OH
* Bernie's Bagels (aka The Distillery), Columbus OH
* Ronnie Ps, Pittsburgh PA
* Most Indiana truckstops (Don't take a chance at any of them if you can help it)Random Notes
: My masseuse and speedboat are gone as the NFL taught me a lesson like always. Still, it was a helluva run. I am optimistic about this Thanksgiving. Two games are horrible teams playing pretty good teams with big point spreads. In both of these games, go with the favorite. Dallas and Tennessee are not going to play poorly in front of the entire country. Additionally, the Lions are incapable of playing well under any circumstances. The Seahawks suck at home and are a complete car wreck on the road. While I normally do not advise this, I would take a look at a tease with the chalk on these games...I bought the latest Bob Dylan "Bootleg Series" release ("Tell Tale Signs" I think), and it's really great. When you hear about a bunch of Dylan outtakes from the late 80s to today, it's hard to get fired up. I was shocked at the quality level. If a new artist had released this, critics wouldn't be able to stop gushing praise...You know what else is really good? That "Vampire Weekend" CD. It's like if Tokyo Police Club embraced their inner East Coast college freshman. Wait, that sounds bad...A good read is "Smile When You Are Lying" by Chuck Thompson. It's a unblinking and opinionated look at travel and travel writing. If you like the way I write about terrible road catastrophes, you'll like this book...I recently looked at a Billboard Top 50 chart and knew what 4 of the artists even sounded like. That means I am either 1) really subversive and counter culture, or (probably more likely) 2) incredibly out of touch.