04.25.05 – Mason City, IA

This is one of those mega-depressing days off. It’s cold and rainy and we’re in Mason City Iowa. Generally we enjoy spending days off in remote towns with old man bars, cheap diners, and undiscovered thrift stores (I think it was in Billings Montana where Joe snagged the Hammond organ in his studio for $29). Mason City probably has all those things, but we’re stuck at the Holiday Inn on a stretch of highway that Sprint PCS forgot, where the bitter winds howl and there are Applebee’s restaurants as far as the eye can see. I know they have riblets, but is there anything more depressing than eating at Applebee’s? Maybe eating at Applebee’s and then going to Super Walmart afterwards to spend an hour looking for a little wall hook to hang your headphones on in your bunk. Maybe something like that.

Joe had the right idea. Joe’s sleeping through the afternoon after taking a lethal dose of Jewish Guilt from Dave Schneider of the all-hockey opening band “the Zambonis” yesterday in Illinois. They worked out a dueling guitars schtick in soundcheck between Joe and the Zambonis’ chicken-pickin’ guitarist Steve Tanski. Then Joe proceeded to confuse the order of the opening bands (both Carbon Leaf and the Zambonis opened up yesterday) and completely blew off his cameo appearance. Apparently, Dave introduced “special guest Joe from Guster” last night… and when they were left hanging, he proceeded to put out the call for Joe before every remaining song in the set. He even got a fruitless “Joe! Joe! Joe!” chant going with the crowd. Dave loved every minute of it.

Dave Schneider of the Zambonis

So after a relaxing early evening round of bocce during the Zambonis’ show, Joe wanders up to the backstage carrying the bocce set and Dave delivers the guilt like only the lead singer of a hockey band can. “Joe… is everything okay? Were you… were you… playing bocce!?” Fortunately, Jon Aley of the Zambonis didn’t give us the eye-for-an-eye treatment, and showed up promptly for his guest appearance on keyboards during “You’re My Satellite,” which is starting to come together nicely.

After the show I won more money playing blackjack at the “Pair-a-dice Casino” in East Peoria than I’ve ever won in Vegas. Thanks to the nice chemistry major at Bradley who went out of her way to drive us to the gambling ship.

Pierre LaRouche

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