Reverend Norb

column from MRR #171 - August 1997

STOP! WAIT! HOLD THE PRESSES! HEAP BIG NEWS FLASH! I just found out that A MOVIE THEATRE DOWN THE STREET IS ACTUALLY GOING TO SHOW THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW  THIS SATURDAY!!! And, get this! They're going to show it at MIDNIGHT!!! Great heavens!!! Merciful Minerva!!! WHY HAS NO ONE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE??? We've certainly got it all in Green Bay! With novel and exciting pastimes such as these to propel us hard astern through the ineluctable spiral jetty of life, it's a wonder my band and i were able to tear ourselves away from Thrill City, USA this year to conduct our annual BIG WEEK AND A HALF LONG BORIS TOUR, but, using all the steely resolve and hangdog tenacity our yoga instructors could possibly impart to us for what we're payin' 'em, we somehow managed -- probably because i was desperate for something to write about this month. We depart after work on Friday. We went to the East Coast this year. We like going to the East Coast better than going to the West Coast, because if we go to the East Coast, we get to drive past Gary, Indiana. We fucking LOVE driving past Gary, Indiana. It has never failed to transfix us with its unholy beauty. We love the huge blue flames shooting out of the smokestacks (the big one we call "The Devil's Vent," as it reminds us of a massive brick toilet paper core jammed thru the earth into the smoldering subterranean rectum of an upside-down and fiercely flatulent Lucifer [unless the unholy rectum in question belongs to the devil-figure of them Asian religions, who, one would assume, would be seated with his head towards the Eastern Hemisphere and his ass towards the west, and would not really be upside-down at all]), we love the post-apocalyptic horror of the fumes billowing over the black water, we love every goddamn thing about that place, especially the fact that we don't live within 200 miles of it. I also flatly refuse to believe humans work there; i figure the tasks are carried out by strange, Erector-set-and-vacuum-tube type cyborgs in S&M garb. Oh well, enough of this Walt Whitman bullshit. We get to our terminus for the evening, the South Bend Motel 6 (yeah, that's right, we tour one-and-a-half weeks a year and we stay in fuckin' MOTELS every night!!! AND WE DON'T LOSE MONEY DOING IT! Ya wanna know why??? 'CAUSE WE'RE FUCKING ROCK STARS, THAT'S WHY!!! PISS on your goddamn scene! All we care about is four flat pillows, four individually-wrapped plastic drinking cups, and whether or not our room gets the Cartoon Network!!! (if it's any consolation, they usually don't) (seriously, though, i always love it when people in bands imply that there is something somehow "incorrect," or, at the very least, "not punk" about only touring for under two weeks at a crack and staying at Motel 6 -- like, we should be more like them and tour for six weeks at a time and sleep on floors and stuff. I dunno, have these people no lives? I'm thirty-one fucking years old. I have slept on all the floors i care to sleep on. I want climate control! I want mattress! I want quiet! And, after a week and a half of goofing off, i wanna go home! I got things to do! I got a job to go to! I got bills! I got rent! I got mail! Touring is not some kinda post-pubescent outpatient-basis summer camp thing that i do to get out of my mom'n'dad's basement for six weeks, it's a MISSION FROM GOD. And God says go home after a week and a half!), check in, note the demoralizing absence of any Cartoon Network related broadcasts in our locale, and hit the sack. The next morning, Ric -- long held in high esteem by the rest of the band for being the one guy smart enough to bring his own pillow to Motel 6 -- is pelted with the black buckshot of scorn and ridicule for becoming The One Guy Dumb Enough To Also Forget His Pillow At Motel 6. We stop at some lame truck stop in Ohio, where Ric dumps like seven or eight bucks on some revolutionary new "orthopedic" pillow, as seen on TV! When he removes it from its polyvinyl bag, it turns out to simply be a pillow-sized hunk of spiky foam rubber. We laugh til we cry. In Cleveland, we find that, in our moral crusade to avoid playing the Big Rock Club That All The Kids Hate which had hosted all previous Boris field trips to the Brownless Town, we have booked ourselves into the Big Rock Club That All The Kids Hate Even More. We are nothing if not predictable. My favorite part of the opening action comes when the justly monickered Retard Bus -- bookended between the Clockouts and the Proms -- begin playing their set for a second time, and have to be physically removed from the stage by uniformed security goons. I mean, they had to take their drumsticks away and unplug their amps and shit! That was the real deal! Of course, i laughed in their singer's face when he asked me to put out a 7" by them, but, goddammit, i loved that set ending! During our vaguely more competent performance, i wound up crashing thru Paul #2's drumset and into Paul #1's amp, narrowly averting the Tumbling Marshalls Theory but fucking up the joint formerly known as My One Good Knee in the process and, implausibly, somehow dropping my mic and kicking it under the bottom of the little stand for the bass drum mic as i fell, resulting in a particularly pathetic variant on the shell game theme, as i could not fucking find where i had lost the microphone for like, five minutes or so. I hadda have the crowd give me clues. I am dignified and suave! Who told you otherwise? That night, at the Youngstown Motel 6 (the Canton location being booked, thus putting the kibosh on our aspirations to make the pilgrimage to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though we're sure it could only be 1/30th as impressive as the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame), we turn on the teevee and, unbelievably, almost as if beamed down especially for us by a whimsical and puckish Great Spirit, the first thing we stumble across is an infomercial for Ric's new, completely useless HUNK OF FOAM RUBBER PILLOW! We are beside ourselves with laughter. Ric has already got his eyeshade on, tossing and turning and valiantly attempting to wring some type of usage out of his totally useless piece of foam rubber. We're shouting "Ric! Ric! Watch this! Your pillow's on TV!" But he just keeps tossing and turning and telling us to fuck off and stuff. It was actually quite a riot. The guy who invented The Hunk Of Foam Rubber is Chinese, or something, and he's got this human spine as a prop (where the spine was acquired is anybody's guess -- probably from some band on Atlantic Records i spose) which he keeps brandishing vigorously as he emits classic bursts of dialogue such as "ordinary pillow not support spine always! My pillow support spine! Always!" We're in fucking stitches. I mean, it's a hunk of fucking foam rubber! Probably picked out of a dumpster somewhere, or swiped from an Anvil case when a guitar player was smoking reefer! They show people giving testimonials. We ask Ric if he's going to do a testimonial to the benefits of sleeping on the Miraculous Hunk Of Foam Rubber. He tells us to fuck off. In the morning, we buy real pillows and go to Pittsburgh. We're playing in a basement. I usually don't go in for house shows (there's something about standing in a guy's home that somehow defuses much of the lustre an Antler Helmet and a pair of checkered spandex bike shorts usually generate), but, for some reason, i feel it necessary to play Pittsburgh, if only to find an answer to the troubling question of whether the Steelers have two quarterbacks or none (predictable answer: Kordell is THE MAN, dude! I say Coach Sgt. Slaughter oughtta sign Randall Cunningham, put him 'n' Stewart in the backfield, and move goddamn Bettis to tight end. Nobody would have any idea what the fuck was going on! Least of all Pittsburgh). The first band is aptly named Disturbed Youth. They are 13 to 15 year olds, sucking Pabst from 16 oz. cans. I like them. The basement gets too smoky too quickly, so i spend much of the show outside, missing much of the rest of the bands. However, to concoct a statement of great generality, i believe i can say with some conviction that i kind of like many of the bands from Western Pennsylvania -- if only because they do not sound like many of the bands from Eastern Pennsylvania. During the Mud City Manglers' set, i go upstairs, to seek out my 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke™ i have stashed in the fridge. As i approach the kitchen (attempting to be as respectful and unintrusive as possible, since i am treading thru the private quarters of folks i do not know so very well), i hear and smell delicious, nutritious hamburgers being fried, which, naturally, leads me to believe that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring in the kitchen which i need be wary of intruding upon. As i enter the kitchen, i, indeed, see the expected Pittsburgher flipping Pittsburgers with his left hand. His right hand, however, is on a girl's head. The girl is on her knees. Description of the rest of the scenario will be left untold as a courtesy to our hosts. Immediately following the fellatius interruptus incident, i skedaddled downstairs just in time to hear the Manglers covering "Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth" by the Dead Boys. Pittsburgh rocks! The next day, we boogie thru the mountains (causing my ears to plug up so i wind up talking like Grampa Simpson) to Allentown, where we were originally slated to play at a mini-golf course (YAAAY!) but, alas, wound up playing at kind of a rave joint (BOOOO!). Throughout the other bands sets (the Slaphappys, Rob 587's Other Band, and the Heartdrops [who blew us off the stage that night, and whose label chieftain, Malibu Lou, has some sort of mutant power whereby he can leave as long an answering machine message on your machine as he damn well pleases without getting cut off. Malibu Lou can leave a twenty-minute message on a ten minute tape with a one-minute maximum message length setting. I have no fucking clue how he does it. He's Malibu Lou, bay-bee!]), they were projecting movies or videos or some god damn thing on the screen behind the stage. I decided that such a thing causes severe cases of Rock Attention Deficit, and was this close to telling the soundman to 86 the multi-media horseshit during our set -- but eventually decided that this would suggest that i take myself seriously, and, holy fuck, we certainly can't have that! Sure enough, when we play, no one cares. My part of the stage is composed of a bunch of separate risers, about a foot wide each, all pushed together -- but not connected. Ergo, all i gotta do is jump around for like ten seconds and the stage begins to separate like an overcooked beef roast. I wind up not only falling into the drums (again), but also falling between the meandering risers, invoking a humongous knot/gash on my right shin. I lose all crowd support when i pop the beachball they were playing with on my antlers. Hey, at least i didn't make any Billy Joel jokes. The Motel 6 in Wilmington, DE is easily one of the more frightening we've stayed at. After checking in, we walk across the street to the 76 station for Rock and Roll Supper -- unfortunately, they only let one person in at a time (ostensibly so the cashier can keep his pistol trained on the customer without undue distractions); given the option of either waiting in line with crack dealers and whores or procuring sustenance from the Motel 6 vending machines, we opt for the latter. In the morning, Paul #1 is propositioned in the laundry room by a strumpet, the moral being that clean clothes are an invitation to immorality!!! I am feeling sicker, and by now my eustachian tubes have jammed completely shut. I get thru the night's show in Richmond by reading lips (said show set up by the great and groovy Greg from Sound Hole, who looks like a Matt Groening drawing made flesh). Richmond is, apparently, "emo," but we have a good show nonetheless. North Carolina appears to be nothing but tall, skinny trees, which sort of surprises me. I just pictured it as being some sort of hilly place where every now and again one saw the guy from Antiseen running across the road shooting at a possum, or some clowns in jodphurs and handlebar mustaches crashing a homemade bi-plane on a hillside or something. We play with the Rehabs in Chapel Hill (highlight: after some well-wisher tosses an Inflatable Love Bitch on stage, i fling it into the ceiling fan, repeating as necessary [not unlike Dave Edmunds] until i finally cut to the chase and gore it on my antlers. Certainly went over better than the beachball), a small college town essentially indistinguishable from any other small college town one could think of. The only tangible evidence that i'm in The South (apart from the guys at the gas stations talking like Goober Pyle) is that the convenience stores sell those mysterious staples of WTBS TV commercials, headache powders. For 37¢, you get two little wax paper packets containing powdered aspirin and caffeine and stuff, which you're supposed to either dissolve in a drink, or pour into your mouth like Lik-M-Aid™. I did the latter. Recommend the former. 250 mg of caffeine for 18.5¢ is really a great deal, though. The south shall rise again! Our next show is somewhere deep within the bowels of Amish Country, PA. We drive for miles down tiny country roads, overhung with leafy green trees and shit (We want Gary! We want Gary!), until we come across a little park building with a few dozen punks congregated in the parking lot in a display of ludicrous incongruity (most unintentionally funny dialogue, ever: Me: "Uh, is this where the punk show is?"[like, no shit] Guitarist for The Criminals: "Yeah."  [well, maybe you'da hadda been there]). The show is small but fun; however, the water in God's Country smells like feces so it's a good thing the Taco Bell™ in York still has the BLTsoft taco, lest the region's divinity come into question. On the way to NYC for the highly anticipated "Night of MaximumRockNRoll" show featuring us, Mr. Board's Artless, Mr. Tabb's Furiousness, plus the Jerk-offs and the Criminals, Ric, attempting to purloin a little van-snooze, realizes that he has now left his new pillow at the York Motel 6. I inform Ric that ordinary pillow not support spine always, but he's too busy ruefully attempting to get comfortable on his trusty hunk of foam rubber to really care. The show is at Coney Island High. We do not have directions to the club. All attempts to procure same were met with shrugs and casual grunts of "ah, it's EASY." "Manhattan is a grid," they told us, "made up of numbered avenues and streets. Even a bumpkin from Wisconsin can find his way around." I hear this from a lot of people, so, eventually, i decide it must be true. St. Mark's Place (8th St.) between 2nd and 3rd Aves, how hard can it be? I figure we'll just get belched up out of a tunnel into Manhattan, find what numbers describe our position on the grand and glorious NYC cartesian coordinate grid, and let our math major drummer figure out the rest. Simple. We emerge from the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan at 5 PM Friday. We begin looking for the numbered street or avenue which describes our position. We are not on any type of numbered thoroughfare. We drive, aimlessly, for a while. We still have not seen any type of numbered thoroughfare. We drive more. We see nothing. We are stopped at the lights in front of the World Trade Center, when Ric, eyes eagle-sharp due to a well-supported spine, says "Hey, that's the Criminals van!" Sure enough, the East Bay Street Hockey Fanatics have turned onto the street we're on -- going the other way, of course. "FUCK THIS!" i yell, "HANG ON!" Mustering all the nad at my disposal, i wheel our van around for an attempted U-turn in downtown Manhattan, Friday 5 PM style. My band begins making queasy noises of trepidation, like goddamn Jerry Lewis stunt doubles or something. When it becomes clear that the turning radius of a 1986 Dodge Ram Van is not sharp enough to negotiate a U-Turn in downtown Manhattan at 5 PM on Friday, and that the light has changed, and that the oncoming traffic is now barreling at us hell bent for white leather and i'm backing up directly into it, the band begins screaming like a buncha old ladies. Miraculously, not only do we survive, but i am able to catch up with the Criminals and tail them all the way to the club. Punk Rock! Figuring that i had barely broken into triple-digit spending the night before in PA as i depleted promoter Scott Punker Than You's fine stock of 70's Britpunk items, after we unload and the van is parked (ITEM! Parking in downtown Green Bay now up to FORTY CENTS AN HOUR!) , i decamp to neighboring Venus Records to dump some more yucky money on the almighty VINYL. I find about seventy bucks worth of stuff i need, including a replacement copy of the Damned's "Machine Gun Etiquette" LP -- something like the 9th best album of all time -- which somebody swiped from me like ten years ago. It's twenty bucks. That's too much. I gotta have it, though. I gotta have that innersleeve where Mr. God Awful Ugly the Famous Pig Rustler shows YOU the chord shapes to "Smash It Up!" I'm sure you understand. I go to wheel'n'deal with the guy working the vinyl room, and, lo and be-fucking-hold, i know him. It's Ned from the False Prophets, whom i got falling-down drunk with at the bar when the FP's first played Green Bay, circa '85/'86 (so drunk, in fact, that to this day i don't remember meeting Ned's bandmate George Tabb that night, but i guess i did). That oughtta certainly be worth five bucks off my Damned record! "Ned! Ned!" i holler, "It's me! Nørb from Green Bay! We got drunk at the VFW together when the False Prophets played there back in The Day! Remember??" Ned looks a bit unfocused after this sudden gush of sentiment. "Oh yeah, Norm, I remember you!" Uh, of course you do, Neb. He continues: "Boy, the stage was really shaking that night!" Uh, no, Ned, you played on the floor. Can i have this Damned album for $15? Didn't think so. However, Neg does helpfully inform me that there is a copy of the "New Rose" single behind the counter if i am interested (which i am), though he must call upstairs for a price. While he waits for The Word, we make more small talk. He asks if my band is playing in town. I inform him, why, yes we are -- and, in point of fact, we're playing with his old colleague's band, Furious George. "Oh, GEORGE..." he mutters, kinda rolling his eyes. The Guy Upstairs comes back on the line. Ihear Ned say "ten? Are you sure? It's a picture sleeve!" then he hangs up and tells me it's $15. Thanks, pal. Holy fuck, dropping George Tabb's name cost me five fucking dollars! Good thing i didn't say anything about knowing Mykel! Before the show, Otto, Artless' bass player and expatriate Wisconsinite, proudly showed me his Packers wallet. While Mykel was in fine form for the Artless reunion gig, i couldn't help but think that the presence of the Packer wallet, snugly hidden against his bass player's buttock, somehow subverted his entire platform. Yuk yuk! Furious George were, of course, great. For their grand finale, George summoned Mykel and myself on stage for a rousing rendition of "Gilligan." I do not clearly recollect exactly what happened, but our guitar player put it thusly in a phone call back home the next day: "First they just stood there calling each other a bunch of homos. Then they started wrestling." That seems about right, although he left out the part where i sang "Free Bird." We played, and it was totally swell, one of our best shows ever, although this was a helluva time for us to be out of both "I Gave Boris My Panties" and "I Kissed Rev. Nørb" buttons (the greater New York metropolitan area has, i believe, the most Chicks I Wanna Do of any locale in the Western Hemisphere. Someday, when i implausibly become very desirable, i'm gonna come back to NYC with a big cube van or bread truck or something, scoop up all the babes and transport 'em across state lines for immoral purposes; the chicks i just wanna bang can ride in the cargo area, feasting seductively on cherry Saf-T-Pops™ while lounging on the wheelwell-to-wheelwell zebra-print fun-fur i'll have thumbtacked to the floor, while the chicks i sorta actually dig can sit up front and work the stickshift or something). New York's alright. I like saxophones. After the show, we attempt to head up to Boston. We wind up in New Jersey. Nit pick, nit pick. We play at the Middle East (we almost learned "Young Fast Iranians" for the occasion, get it?) (actually, since hardly anybody recognized "Get Off The Phone" in NYC, maybe you don't) with the Furious Ones, the Johnnies, and the Dislexics. During FG's set, i decide that my caffeine levels have dipped dangerously low, and request that the promoter -- oddly enough, a nubile Asian female -- deliver me unto a house of caffeination (which winds up to be Burger King). It is during this caffeine retrieval period that Furious George see fit to summon me to the stage, for more "Gilligan" related hijinx. When my non-response brings to light the fact that i have left the premises, and not alone, there beginneth rampant speculation that Nørb + Asian chick = ACTION. Nørb + Asian chick = TRACTION, more likely, as her boyfriend knows where i live! Burger King is dead and so am i! (actually, i just got coffee. No cream. I'm not really into Asian girls anyway, you know that -- although we did slow dance during "Free Bird" [as i was unprepared to couple skate]). Before we even start playing, some vocal member of the crowd informs me that i can shove the Vince Lombardi Trophy up my ass. I inform him that, yes, i CAN shove the Vince Lombardi Trophy up my ass, on accounta i come from Green Bay, where we HAVE Vince Lombardi Trophies to shove up our asses. The show somehow concludes without my disembowelment anyway. The final show is in scenic Newark, in a neighborhood where homies walk down the street puffing on joints the size of cigars, yelling things about how they're gonna be high 'til they die. Right on, Soulful Grand Poobah! The bill is Furious George, us, and Blanks 77. We are expecting hundreds of kids in liberty spikes and studded leather to show up and yell stuff at us like "get the fuck off the stage, faggots!" Happily, less paying customers show up than band people, so this is not a concern. I wind up on stage with Furious George, George winds up on stage with us, then Chad Blank winds up singing our Kiss cover with us. Punk Rock! I decide that, since nobody called me a faggot, i am actually really manly, and i am going to drive the thousand miles back to Green Bay myself. I make one stop per state (unless you count the two hours we were stuck in Chicago traffic as a second Illinois stop), one coffee per stop, and it takes me eighteen and a half hours to get home, with my fitfully slumbering bandmates farting horribly every fifteen minutes or so. A half hour out of Green Bay, i smell the now-familiar stink of shit, and i roll down my window to abate the stench. When the reek only gets worse, i realize that it is not caused by flatulence from within, but by cowshit from without, spread across the Wisconsin countryside like some type of mad nitrogen-rich free fudge sample giveaway gone hideously awry. With the last dregs of my 6th coffee, i toast my homeland. It's no Gary, but we try.

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