FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA USA
The fit of the hardcore show spills onto the street, into the costume party of the bars let out early. “After that girl started punching people in the face they just shut shit down.” There had been five bands and five different crowds, five degrees from freezing, hardwood floor. Fake blood comes up off hardwood easy. Real blood never washes off anything, and it stains to boot.
I skate up San Francisco Street to the hardwood, the Smell, the wet. Three dollars at the door. I know this. I have three dollars, they’re gone for a thick marker mark down my right hand. No words. Uno, dos, tres STRIPE. Inside the amps scream, the microphones scream, hoi polli bounce at screams, steaming. “123454321! Hangnoose necktie hanging loose around my neck! What are you doin across the continent!?” The band we’re here to see, Stab City Slit Wrists, screaming.
There’s something that happens during the lone guitar solo of the night. In the sway. In the high of the masses. It’s contagious. It's gonna drive the cops crazy.
After the Danzig cover band the show was over, after the girl’s fists gone wild the bar next door shut down, both coinciding. Control was completely lost for a block, we stumbled out into the middle of the zoo, the trip. Across the street next to the strip club a couple are all over each other in an alcohol internal combustion sort of situation. Just over the next crack in the side walk three monkeys raged, shrieking, laughing. Neither knew of the other. “Hey Kristin!” yells a guy, his naked ass hanging out above his jeans, this wins applause from the masses and he ollies in triumph, the gold locks of his wig bouncing. Frat boy turned construction worker doesn’t notice: “What’s up?”
“Man the cops got Kelly inside, they say if we take her home right now they won’t arrest her.”
“Christ, where is she?”
Conversations like that at the end of downtown nights, parallel parked to curbs. “Hey! Don’t drive drunk!” guy screaming on the gray hood of the white Carrolla. Laughs. The only two cops in sight, still dealing with the hardcore bassist the girl hit in the face, choose not to hear the DD jokes. They teach selective hearing at the Academy these days, I’ve had personal experience with this.
Fights in bars start thick and are ended thrown out one door, only to run around to the back door and start again. Now that all doors are closed the fights simmer across the street to the other curb were the provocation plays tic tac toe to BAC. Fucking honors kids.
The cops also see the Crossing Guard costume stop traffic up the one-way, letting friends with video cameras cross back and forth and back. In ten minutes the Female Fists of Fury have been taken care of, and the shorter cop walks over to the Crossing Guard: “I know what you’re doing. You can’t do that.”
Which is about the time Mario, Luigi and Toadstool come bouncing down the street from uptown. They stop to admire the huge amp stacks being loaded into the back of the van by the Slit Wrists. Loud and self-sustaining, the Nintendo Generation creates a dance party out of cold air on the spot, humming their 8-bit theme song, breakbeats from Luigi, raps from Mario. He makes sounds in rhythm, we play along. Fuck, he even has a plunger in his carpenter overalls, does he know how to party or what?
A bunny and an elephant walk up together and are instantly NES’ed into Marioland. The bunny meets another bunny, different costume, already bouncing. The band has every reason to love this as they remember what equipment fits in the van next. They throw their hands up. This really is Stab City, population you. Laughter.
Again the traffic is stopped, now for the train tracks up the block. The Crossing Guard is still claiming injustice to anyone who will listen. The stopped cars idle thick and white in the cold. It’s not a smell but a state of mind. Windows rolled up and down, a flurry of cellphones “Where you going?”
“Fontaine up by Furniture Barn!”
“Paseo de Flag!”
Where ever. Everywhere, all awake and playing make believe. Here drunks that are very girl come down the sidewalk from the bouncers bouncing, en route to beds somewhere. They walk up dressed as hula girls and country singers, not noticing the drum stand jutting out into the side walk from the van. So far four have completely eaten shit right in the middle of MC Mario and the Nintendo Generation, we all laugh loud, no reason not to, it’s all holiday. “You bitch! You totally pushed me!” she says from the cement.
“Get up. Let’s go. Oh-my-god that’s embarrassing.” Laughter because tonight’s the trip.
I’ll still catch hints of the Smell on me for days. The goal here is to make it to another show before I lose the it completely. Our entire philosophy, extend the period of triumph as long as possible. In Eastern tradition, Satori is the space between conscious thoughts, something to be developed. Right here on South San Francisco below the train tracks, monks in mohawks.
This is usually the territory of stereotypes, but they’re all in drag tonight. The frat girls and the drunk indians. The door guy joined the pit during the last band, that’s when the wanderers come in for their buzz for free. Their Smell.
I stood, leaning really, smiling. Quiet from the post-show hangover, the ringing ears, the pot. Scattered talking too loud and too quick, all part of the trip. “What if every night were like this?” Haley had asked me earlier. How bout it.