Wednesday, November 9, 2011
It was all yellow (and tubby from sitting on planes)
My son, who’s 3.5, my daughter, 1.5 and I all went to the Art Institute of Chicago today. When we walked in, my son was pretty impressed with the lobby of the new modern wing. I believe he referred to it as ‘really cool’ (though he could have said it was “fuckin tits” or “sweeter than the dick on a dog”…I can’t be sure) and even asked me how in the world they’d gotten a rather large statue into the lobby, a question that stumped the shit out of me, though I didn’t honestly give it a ton of thought. I was just happy he was engaged in what was going on. When you’re a kid, museums tend to be either full of dinosaurs and cool machines or totally shitty, and this museum is definitely not full of dinosaurs or cool machines.
I decided that we’d just go for the modern wing since it’s the most well lit, it offers a nice sense of movement between galleries and it was what I wanted to see the most. The collection in Chicago is really world class, but don’t ask my kids about it. The older one decided shit was scary right off the bat when the first canvas was larger than he could reasonably comprehend and all my daughter did was say hi to all the different black ladies in blue blazers that stood in every room and made sure people like me with parasitic, dirty loud children like mine didn’t have a momentary lapse of concentration resulting in dirty little hands all over various masterpieces.
All in all, my daughter said hello to every single security guard in the modern wing and my son said “I want to go home” in every single room. It was a gas. The above picture, it was agreed, was of Lady Gaga. Ah, kids. They can be so whimsically clueless sometimes.
Anyway, on the way home I was catching the replay of this morning’s Stern show where Howard interviewed Chris “I’ve got a humongously wide ass” Martin of Coldplay (I know this because I was a stagehand when Coldplay performed at Metro about four years ago and I was absolutely blown away by his chunky rump. Well, not chunky. It was wide and pancakey, kind of like I’d expect Kenny Powers’ ass to be in real life) and Howard asked a question that I didn’t really think was very interesting, but the response was fascinating.
The question was something to the effect of “when you guys were on the bus did you end up doing that thing where you were all getting blowjobs right in front of one another?” Here’s why I find this question to be dull: What the fuck is Chris Martin gonna say about that? He’s married to America’s sweetheart. He writes songs specifically about monogamy and he’s essentially the Lloyd Dobbler of rock and roll in that all white girls of a certain age kind of love him a little. He’s not Nikki Sixx or Kid Rock or any number of people whose cachet is advanced by not giving a fuck. Giving a fuck is precisely what gives Chris Martin cachet. He’s particular and brooding and obsessive and gets it just right with a simple melody and a haircut that looks like the product of shaving your head about six weeks ago and then just jumping out of bed, but which probably cost two hundred pounds at the finest salon (pronounced SA-lon) to get right. Chris Martin could have been getting blowjobs from Herman Cain, Pamela Anderson, Justin Bieber, that chick from Modern Family and Megan Fox all at the same time and he wouldn’t talk about it publically. He’s too much of a monogamy guy tabloid fixture. Too much is expected of him. The only answer to that question, if you’re Chris Martin, is to chuckle and say something like “oh Howard, you always go there. Come on. Of course not. We’re good lads, really.” Or some shit like that.
And Chris Martin did kind of sidestep the question, but with one of the most overwhelmingly mind boggling responses I’ve ever heard. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “well, we got really lucky in that we didn’t really have to travel on busses for very long.”
I don’t even totally know what that means. I’m assuming it means that Coldplay fly to all their shows but that’s FUCKING INSANE. When bands first start touring, almost without fail, they travel in a car or a few cars. At my first on-the-road show ever, we arrived in one of those jeeps that is just a cage with a soft top and has four seats (a Wrangler, I believe?) and a GMC Jimmy packed with amps. Some bands tour like this. Some bands forego bringing their gear at all and tour in a car. Crimpshrine, a hugely influential band for me and lots of my friends/musical peers, famously(?) toured in a Pinto.
At a certain point, if you want to really make a go of being in a band, you get a shitty van. This is the point most bands stay at for the entirety of their existence. If you’re a really lucky band, eventually you’ll graduate from the shitty van to the good (or really practical) fifteen passenger van. From there, you’ll get a trailer. If you’ve made it this far, this is where it usually ends for you. Even if you go up to the big leagues and get a bus, even if you’re on a bus for years, or decades, eventually you’ll cash out in the old fifteen passenger with the trailer (and if you ARE coming back from being a bus band, you’ll probably feel like a shitty failure but delude yourself and your sympathetic friends [‘aw shit bro, last time I saw you, you dudes were in a bus and the place was sold out! Rough times, huh?’] by telling yourself it’s so great to be able to drive again and see the open road again and get back to how it used to be and be able to take the van to go get food or drive to wherever you want at any old time and stay in town if the mood strikes you instead of dealing with that shitty bus call…but you’re not fooling anyone, least of all yourself).
A few bands end up doing bus tours. This is a very small percentage of all the bands in the world. I don’t know how many luxury coaches (what those busses are called) are currently operating in North America, but it’s not a lot, and those things take Sarah Palin and Guy Fieri around too. It’s not just bands and shithead DJ’s that roll around in busses. John Madden and your rich uncle are also living the luxury nightliner life. Busses are nice. They’re extremely luxurious. Will Smith tours in a bus. So does Ozzy. So does pretty much everyone.
Which is exactly why it’s so crazy that the dude from Coldplay said “we were really lucky because we didn’t have to be in a bus for very long.” That’s (again) INSANE! I mean, I recognize that they’re one of the biggest bands in the world and they blew up fast, but fuck, man. The Gaslight Anthem blew up fast and they still did years and years of touring in a shitty van. Who the fuck just jumps straight to airplanes? I mean, obviously Coldplay does, but wow. That’s just mind blowing.
In conclusion, next time you see your friends shitty band blowing up faster than yours or you hear their new record and get jealous and snarky and shitty because it’s better than anything you could ever hope to do, and soon they’ll be somebodies and you and your dipshit chums are gonna be stuck in your crappy lives, remember this: Coldplay didn’t even have to get used to the discomfort of a luxury nightliner coach. That’s how quickly their star rose. All the rest of us are back in vans, or will be. And me? Shit, last show the Lawrence Arms played we didn’t even bring cables because we don’t even have enough cars between us all to get our shit anywhere.
We’re on the bus, all right. The fucking city bus. How’s that for rock and roll?