we’re in athens georgia now after dipping down into fort lauderdale for a show yesterday. fort lauderdale is where my grandparents used to live and where i used to fish for sheepshead in the canal behind their apartment complex when i was eight years old. the first thing i told my cousin when he picked me up for dinner after soundcheck was that i wanted to go to “pumpernick’s” and i wanted to get there for the early bird special at 5pm. pumpernick’s was amazing though i didn’t fully appreciate it at the time — i remember the bowl of pickles, the basket of glossy onion rolls, the wait staff who would pretend to look the other way when the elderly customers emptied said onion rolls into a purse and asked for more…
“that place has been closed for like 18 years,” said my cousin.
so we drove past a restaurant called the “egg ‘n you diner” which seemed like a solid replacement for pumpernick’s not because it looked like it’d be a haven for old frugal people, but because it was called the “egg ‘n you diner.” it too was closed. note disappointment on my face outside of the egg & you.
we settled for the fort lauderdale ale house, where the wait staff are women wearing miami dolphins jerseys and short shorts, spouting off drink specials and blocking my view of the hi-def TV showing the cowboys-patriots game that was next to the other hi-def TV showing the cowboys-patriots game which was next to… (repeat about 60-70 times for accuracy).
the show itself was fun. it was a small club with an owner who’s all about live music, and building up his own legend with photographs of him ‘n you on his wall. after so many gymnasiums and parking lots on college campuses, it was nice to be in a packed club again, and we decided we’d commence drinking on stage 2/3rds of the way through the show because that’d be a very rock ‘n roll thing to do in florida.
of course, true to guster self-conscious form we announced very formally that the sober part of the show was through, and we were about to begin the drunken, rock ‘n roll, anything-goes part of the show. and then ryan asked the crowd if they thought this was a good idea by a show of applause, etc. — the audience finally reacted when ryan said “l’chaim” and a quick survey revealed we were literally playing to a 90% jewish crowd.
what these people witnessed for the last forty minutes of the set had its highs and lows. manifest destiny, great escape, and c’mon were extra spirited, and by the time the encores came around our lead singer had put down a quarter of a bottle of jameson and was slurring his…. lyrics. at the end of set-closer ‘come downstairs and say hello’ i went into a triggered 808 hip hop beat so ryan would freestyle rap while inebriated. we’d been breaking this out recently in preparation for our show opening for kanye west in nashville, though ironically we ended up doing this at every show except the one with kanye. before we were done i’d sung a song and introduced the band, we’d trudged through a ten minute blues jam with ryan on drums, and apparently we played a version of jesus on the radio with scooter on shaker (i was on the bus at this point, thinking the show was over).
while people in south florida might feel like they witnessed something special last night at the show, it doesn’t even hold a candle to what went down at the 7-11 we stopped at for cheap halloween masks and florida t-shirts a half hour down the road after the show:
the man in the make-shift thong is our sound engineer, gordon reddy…. (awkward segueway coming) (no way to smooth it over)… help a great cause and visit www.ourthreads.com where ryan miller is auctioning off a bunch of old t-shirts (including his trippin balls t-shirt!) as a part of his very own celebrity closet. all proceeds benefit www.dramaticneed.org — hurry up, though! the auction ends this thursday the 18th.