02 December, 2011

It's Friday: Let's Piss Off the Straightaways! (Again.) (Post 2,300)

No, I'm not some bitter old fuck who's still trying to convince people that he was, at one time, in a great band, no. Some people have old friends that come to mind from time to time. Some people have ex-lovers or ex-spouses that they can't help but remember. And some people are like me: They had a band. Sometimes, because they have a memory, they remember this band. Simple as that.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Straightaways, here's a (super) brief refresher: Bob was the drummer and, the more I think back on it, a zealous little cuss. Karl was the bass player and smoked pot and was generally lazy. And me? I played the alpenhorn and blew truckers.
ANYhoo, you see, after you're in a band for a while, you start to want to do things. Bigger things. Bob, I knew, was dismayed that I did not want the Straightaways to play house parties. Granted, at the time all I knew were the house parties that Karl had at the corner of Pain & Moe. I knew that there were a lot of people there that I didn't like and that there was something insufferably juvenile about decorating one's house with an inflatable Budweiser can. House parties had left a bad taste in my mouth and, beside that, the Straightaways were doing quite handsomely on the bar circuit. Sure, there were only two bars that would have us at the time in BG and breaking out of BG to Toledo was a pain in the dick but, fuck, we worked at it. We knew what we had and we brought it every time.
Where I'm going with this is that, after a year and a half, the Straightaways were turning into a very promising venture. I was high all the fucking time back then (eleven years ago), so I'm probably lying if I say we were playing out every weekend. It was probably more like every other weekend. That wouldn't be too far from the truth, I suppose.
So when a band starts to get that kind of busy, when a band starts going out of town, a band is going to need - wait for it - a vehicle.
Here was the issue: We had access to Bob's parents' minivans. That was cool. They were cool. Never an issue. Bob, however, was in possession of the world's tiniest violin and used to lord shit over me and Karl. Remember, this is the guy that pitched a bitch about how Karl and I never booked any shows and then after Karl and I go book a show exclaims, "What show!? I didn't book it!" After a while, a motherfucker gets sick of that attitude. After a while, a motherfucker starts looking for ways to wrest the power plays one by one from said attitude holder.
I was that motherfucker.
And the van situation was power play numero uno.
It was pretty easy to sell the guys on: We're a band. We need a van. And there'll always be a "what if" situation concerning Bob's parents' minivans. We'd been talking about getting a van for a while anyhow.
Problem was that none of us had any money. We all had full time jobs working for better than minimum wage and we were playing paying gigs every other weekend, so how the hell did we not have any money?

Hello, you.

Hello to you, too.
It wasn't uncommon for me to crash on Karl's couch after a late night of waiting to get paid. And then we'd wake up and spend our pay on breakfast at Bob Evan's. But mostly, our pay went to grass. I mean there was quite a bit of it. Our jobs paid our bills, our shows fed our vices. And I noticed that shit wasn't making too much sense. Sometimes we got paid fifty bucks, sometimes we got paid a hundred; it was all dependent on the door. I think the most we ever made was a hundred fifty, that was a particularly good night. And those nights, good, bad, and in between, they add up. A year and a half in... Why if we had saved that money instead of smoked it...
And so here is where I threw down the gauntlet: I told the guys that we could buy a van on our show earnings alone. We just had to start a band fund to save the money in.
The money we would save by not smoking grass.
You have to bear in mind the caliber of punker I'm saying this too. These are not straight-edgers; after all, I've made it pretty apparent that we got high all the fucking time. No, these are the caliber of punker that... It's like this: Karl was the kind of guy who would spend time thinking about how to hollow something out to hide a stash in it. Bob would be the kind of guy to loan him the tools if Karl could make him one too. That's a pretty good example. With that in mind, you shouldn't have to imagine too hard the looks on their faces when I brought them this plan.
But I sold the shit out of that plan. I mean, hey, I wasn't smoking either. We were all in this together and it was for the good of the band: A van, that we owned, in our names (or however it would work, I think I may have actually planned on putting it in my name since I'd always wanted a van and didn't want Bob to think he had any more control over the band than he already thought he did), to which we had unlimited access.
We celebrated the idea by smoking the last of our grass right then and there to show our solidarity. This was it, all of it. After that, there was no more.
That plan lasted for a week and a half.
I went to practice one day and saw Karl rolling a joint. I chided him, asking him what the hell he was doing. He shrugged and asked, "What are you going to do? Punish me?"
I looked to Bob for support.
I got none. In fact, Bob was anxious to light up.
And they offered me a hit and I said no. I was nearly ready to walk out of practice.
I probably should have.
Getting high was more important to my bandmates than the band was.
So I said, No, and sat there and watched them pass the joint back and forth just to prove that I was... OK, so it was my snotty way of being holier than thou but the fact remained that I cared about my band enough to stop throwing my money away on fucking marijuana and save it and move forward.
Karl still lives in NWOH somewhere.
Bob? Never bothered to ask about.
And sure, me? I'm not doing the bestest. I have a degree I don't use in a job I don't like. I never did become a fucking rock star or whatever and my "band" is essentially a one man recording project but, fuck, at least I tried.
After the Straightaways broke up, Demi said, "You know it was because you tried to get those guys to stop smoking weed, right?"
I disagreed then. I'm not so sure, now.

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