Welcome: The Genny Pearl Rubber Band

Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
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Trip End Sep 01, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, August 16, 2010

            DAY FIFTY-SEVEN:  That smells good right now: barbeque.  Lo, how bacon fat and molasses doth waft through these fine steamy skies.              Our taxi ride back from the Mystery House of Weirdoes is interesting, as our cabbie has simply no clue as to where we need to be.  He drives around in circles for a time, punching the wrong information into the navigation system, while Shmark and I, hazy at 8am and wholly unsure of where we need to be (though S does incredibly remember the street names), grab the Thomas Guide and point him in the correct direction.  The driver feels like an ass for it, and when he's not apologizing profusely he’s rolling dollar bills up to toss to homeless people as we pass them, and in seeing his sincerity and kindness, I really don’t care when exactly we get back.  Ultimately, we arrive and he says to pay him whatever we think it was worth, but we pay him market price anyway and wish him good luck.

            En route to Pearl, we bump into Mr. X, who himself is en route to one of his morning poops.  That’s to say that Mr. X has a steady morning schedule, and that it involves the purging of his bowels.  Mr. X likes to poop, I like to poop: therefore, I like Mr. X.

            The Beard just turned to me to suggest mentioning how pleasant a day it is, the overcast skies blocking out a bit of the heat so painfully outlined in entries previous.  I tell him that I can’t say that, as the weather "today" is not pleasant, as I am writing yesterday’s entry, but in compromise I tell him I’ll write about the interaction and be done with it.  As far as this entry is concerned in how it reacts with time, tomorrow’s weather is very pleasant.

            Today’s, however, is not.  After sitting in the bus – or in my case, on the bus, where I fall asleep while reading the Pynchon book – playing music for a bit, we take a tip from Reba, who even goes so far as to drive around the block to be sure of her directions, to go to the Cumberland River for a swim.  Thusly, we all strip it down to our shorts and, towels slung about our shoulders, walk through the neighborly neighborhood, past all these whitewashed and alabaster porch swing homes and their sunken and frail cigarette occupants, before reaching a convenience store.  The Beard is doing ollies over sidewalks with his board, and then we’re all talking to a very old man wearing a Hooetrs shirt, missing many teeth and all the fingers on his left hand.  He tells us stories of the flood in May, when he had to swim out of the roof in his car, and stay in a hotel outside of town for a few days until the freeways were opened again; his laugh hiccups all around the store and makes everyone else smile, and where The Beard is buying a tinker-tot fishing rod made of bamboo, it really feels like you’re in a The Adventures of Hucklepearl Wins.  I forced that one.
            The river is surrounded by baseball fields, and Kuntz and I do toss the ball around for a bit, but the water is part of a reclamation project and stinks of potted fish, so we don’t really swim around.  Instead we’re just throwing the Frisbee around, reading, sleeping in the shade or on the roof of the bus (where I wake to find that a river of my own sweat has drooled down over the side and onto the windows below), and we’re appreciative for The Beard having taken his skateboard back to bring us a bus on which to sleep on altogether.  We’re blasting the latest Arcade Fire album, which is decent, and The Dead Weather, who are also quite decent but not always of my taste, which as you know is completely refined and qualified, and we decide that te heat has necessitated a plunge into a pool, so we cruise the city for a public pool

            We fail.  Instead, we find a supermarket, load ourselves up with popsicles in the shade (Cornbread and I do get “cracklins”, which are lightly fried strips of pork skin, which ooze with fat when you eat them, and which are mostly horrifyingly bad for you.  In the parking lot we get a few honks and hey-now-what’s-ups, as Nashville is the friendliest city I’ve ever been to – in contention with Lago di Como or Salina without question – but the ultimate is Maurice.  Mo, he’s an old toothless bicyclist with his hair in cornrows (“tell 'em about the old black man in Nashville,” he yells as he rides off), and in spite of his Popeye’s Chicken nametag, it’s quite difficult to understand most of what he says.  “I’m fifty!”  “My boy he grew the plant on da roof, man!  He’s growing it there and da police dey jes ride up, say, ‘hey, that look like marijuana,’ dey shut his ass up.  What a fool, man!  See I’s growing fat leaves in my house all quiet and ain’t nobody who touch me!  Woo, I love to smoke it!  One day they gon’ make it legal and I’ll ride up to a police and wshhhhhhhh whoooooo I’ll breathe it right in his fat ol’ face!  Woo, that’ll be fine!”  He likes the bus, wants to do it one day, himself, but he says he’s all kinds of old, and is afraid of the fires in California.  They don’t build many folks like that, do they?

            By then the decision is to drive back into town to park the bus and jam for a bit on the strip, and though Cornbread’s forgotten his sandals at the park and though we are parked and all, we don’t jam.  Instead, some guys dressed in Mighty Ducks t-shirts come by – okay I’m mixing up with time again, but we just met this marvelous man named William, dressed in red checkered shirt and measuring tape suspenders, who was completely unintelligible and clearly slightly deranged, but full of the most positive gleeful energy I’ve ever seen in a man: “Where you from, William?”  “Fire department!” – and the Mighty Ducks and their friends marvel at our bus, asking us questions after having played laser tag, and, themselves already quite drunk, they demand all of us to join them at a bar around the corner for a round of shots...on them.  They’re all just crazy and hilarious, from the hulking, giddy ring leader and his stunningly beautiful, eternally sarcastic and strange-humored girlfriend, with her equally attractive, freshly-arrived, and friendly roommate, to the fellow in his Dodgers hat who happened to play AA ball within the Indians Organization.  One shot becomes two, three, and their group of friends grows until the rounds are twenty-deep; someone steals a hula hoop, and we all engage in futile hula hoop competitions with the girls while making  stupid jokes and talking about black people in Memphis in a rather disconcerting, racist manner (well, not all of us or them were doing this latter thing, but yeah, it didn't play down the southern cliche too much, I wll say that).  The ring leader, a former football player from Clemson, mentions his love of novelty shirts and asks us to get him one; I dig his Gordon Bombay jersey and trade him for the shirt I got from the mechanic in Brooklyn, but his shirt is so disgustingly sweaty that I have to trade back.  Ugh, so nasty. 

            I eventually get a message from Reba, who has driven downtown to see us – we were to see a bluegrass show at The Station Inn, but got sidetracked and forced to hang out with a group of wonderful locals who really strove to make us feel welcome – and we meet her on Broadway at one of the honky tonk bars we’d seen two nights ago.  We get some chili dogs at the bar and chat over a crazy performance by a quartet – a drummer, a bassist, who has a sort of weird Hank Williams, Jr. persona and always stretches his arms out, shrugging, as if to say, “get a load of this,” a fiddler, who is enormously overweight and whose forearm dances as he tears up a song with a restrained talent, and finally the guitarist, he with the sleeveless cowboy shirt, sunburst telecaster, Ronnie Wood haircut, and tendency to purse his lips, grumbling or drooling, at each solo – everyone is going crazy over the guitarist especially (and particularly on their cover of a Gram Parsons song on which he lent vocals), and it’s a great cap to the evening.  We all have a nice chat with Reba, that Mother Teresa of sorts who is probably still looking out for our wellbeing, even since we’ve left, and go back to the bus, where Kuntz has brought two drunken girls and an angry guy who cusses the bus out for its “aura”.  Oh, Kuntz.

IN OTHER NEWS: We've finally settled on a band name, as you can see in the subject header.  Hope you like it, and if you don't, it'll kick your ass.

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“What is Earl Scruggs most famous for, or what did he invent?”  I think this is the last quiz, as I don't care so much about it anymore.
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