Washington, DC has an open container law that states you can't have any open containers of alcohol in public places. Thus when you go to a club that sells alcohol, you can drink inside, but you can't take any containers outside the establishment. Even if the container doesn't contain alcohol, you're still not allowed to take it out of the club, because it might contain alcohol. And now, onto the story....
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of woe is me,
It happened in a DC club,
Called the 9:30.
They piled into the minivan,
And o'er the hills they go.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a TMBG show, a TMBG show.
I was in Baltimore visiting my girlfriend for a week and a few IRC friends of ours drove down from Williamsport, PA. The plan was to go to the They Might Be Giants show in Washington, DC. We drove down to the show in my friend's silver Toyota Previa which he has dubbed the Space Van for reasons that are wholly irrelevant. We waited outside for over an hour to get into the show and still had to stand in a rather huge line. Right, so fast forward through the show and all that junk and onto the important bits. After the show was over there was the standard crowd of rabid fans trying to get their own little bit of detritus from the stage to take home. Popular items include guitar picks, setlists, or bits of shredded money from the infamous confetti cannon. I'm a setlist man myself. It's rather a silly thing, and I originally did it to mock the people who rabidly go after setlists at the end of shows. However as is often the case with mocking I ended up doing it myself, but without the mocking bit.
Anyway so I'm standing with the small group of people clustered around the stage. We've all got our arms thrust out into the air with the best pleading looks on our faces in hopes that Mr. Random Roadie guy will pick us to hand the setlist to. Well, I didn't get a setlist. Tom, who was in our group managed to snag one with his Go Go Gadget Arms. I was about to take my arm back down when the roadie deposited something in my sweaty little palm.
Hrmmm...what do we have here? Why, it appears to be a paper cup. And there appears to be about a third of a cup of cold, dark liquid in the bottom. 4 out of 5 dentists agree that it appears to be coffee. The coffee that John Linnell had been drinking throughout the show. John Linnell is in TMBG. And I've got his coffee.
I can't quite decide if this is really gross or really cool. So I take a sip. Mmmm...cold coffee with a bit of backwash. But that's rockstar backwash! So we pass the cup around and all take sips and taunt the rest of the rabid fanbase with it. I finish off the coffee and don't think anything else of it. I figure I'll take the cup home and add it to my collection of stuff I picked up at concerts.
I'm the last in our group to leave the club. There are two bouncer type guys sitting by the door making sure everyone leaves quietly.
"You'll have to throw that cup away," he says.
"Because you're not allowed to take alcohol out of the club."
"But it's empty. And besides, it didn't even have alcohol in it."
"We don't know that."
"This had coffee in it. It was from one of the guys in the band. I'm taking it as a souvenir."
He motions for the head bouncer to come over.
"You're going to have to throw that cup away. You can't take it out of the club. It's against the law."
At this point I've held up the line of people leaving for about three minutes. It's obvious these guys aren't going to budge on the issue. The cup's gonna start to stink soon enough, so I give in and toss it in the garbage and walk out.
"What took you so long?" asks my girlfriend.
"Oh, they gave me a hard time and made me through John Linnell's coffee away. Bastards."
"Oh yeah. DC open container law. I was going to tell you, but I thought you knew."
"How the heck would I know? I don't even live in DC!"
Facists. So next time you try to sneak out a cup belonging to someone famous while you're in Washington, DC remember to put it down your pants before you leave the building.