Milwaukee, WI

Played a Happy Hour show with our friends Call Me Lightning, the baddest rock band ever. Michael was accosted by a drunken Happy Hour patron on painkillers who wanted to talk about Brooklyn. And his friend from Brooklyn. And Milwaukee. And the time he snuck into a Harley-Davidson sponsored event and saw the Foo Fighters. Chris and Christian and Tim played Erotic Photo Hunt and hoped not to become engaged. Incidentally, Rahim is getting pretty good at Erotic Photo Hunt.

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After the show we saw Chris of Call Me Lightning's other band, Father Phoenix, play over at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee. We ended up hanging out with Nathan and crashing at his house. Nathan's house is full of plants and natural light and fascinating antique items, mostly the result of his girlfriend's involvement in a sort of DIY craft movement. One day the members of Rahim would like to be the type of adults who live in houses with plants and natural light and fascinating antique items.

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In the morning we ate eggs at a cafe with Nathan. He is a good man.

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In the evening, since we had the night off, we stayed in a hotel in Iowa.

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Chicago, IL

It's true that Milwaukee Ave in Chicago has great Mexican food. We went to a little restaurant called Moran first thing when we arrived and had delicious pickled carrots and cauliflower, enchiladas, a cuban sandwich, and chicken mole.

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Then we went and watched some of the VP debates with Ralph Darden of The Jai Alai Savant. Back at his house, we saw his new comic books and hung out with his cat, Tamika Shackaford. Sarah Palin reminds me of a high school junior campaigning for student counsel president. Her rhetoric, however, was unsatisfactorily free of howlers and solecisms (unless you count "O'Biden" and "nucular."

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Played at a venue called Ronny's, an old biker bar with a garage for show space. A few of the employees and regular patrons of Ronny's seem mildly resentful of the kids who have shows there. Nonetheless, we saw a bunch of old friends, stayed with our friend Cully, and ate Costa Rican lunch the next afternoon with the kind folks of Flameshovel Records. Oatmeal milkshake! Food tour 2008!

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Pontiac, MI

We spent our day off eating at Coney Island diners in the Detroit area with our old friends Javelins and Thunderbirds Are Now! In the evening we ate with the Allens and recorded a song with Scott and Brad (Thunderdad). Release of said song pending.

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Uh-oh! Scotty spilled!

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We spent Wednesday watching Some Kind of Monster with Ryan Allen at his house. We played with Thunderbirds Are Now!, Born Ruffians, and Plants & Animals. Sometimes at a rock venue bands are given no food before they play and thus resort to eating mediocre to abysmal pizza; other times a rock venue provides a catered banquet of delicious greens and meats and fishes. Hats off to Crofoot of Pontiac, MI, for being an example of the latter.

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And hats off to our friends in TAN! and their families for taking care of us while we're in Michigan. And hats off to Toby Lerone for being the kindest beady-eyed deer-dog who ever shared a bed with Michael.

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Bowling Green, OH

Took a few days off in New York. On Monday, we made the long drive out to Bowling Green, OH. As Rahim discovered in Europe, there are many exciting and strange roadside dining options on this green, green Earth. None, in our opinion, matches the made-to-order delights of Wawa. Also illustrated below is the crippling price of fuel, which (as evidenced by recent debates) will soon be solved by offshore drilling so that Rahim may one day tour the land without fear of financial ruin.

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Played with Javelins and Bowling Green natives, The Climates. Javelins are a powerhouse and their new record Heavy Meadows is excellent.

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Days 10, 11 & 12

Carrboro, NC

This was our last show with Win Win Winter. We had boy time together, ate at Carrburrito (a pretty good Mexican place in Carrboro), and hung out with Eddie from Fin Fang Foom, who hosted us at his home and studio (ideally located in downtown Chapel Hill next to a shady massage parlor, rumored to provide assisted showers).

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Josh from Win Win Winter smashed his head on his Rhodes a few weeks back. In Carrboro we watched the removal of his head staples. Unsurprisingly, this made Michael queasy.

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Charlotte, NC

Rahim has played the Milestone in Charlotte a few times. This is the dirtiest and oldest club ever and lays claim to impressive punk rock history, none of which I can remember right now. The first time Rahim entered the Milestone, the proprietors had a gun on the bar. This time, we found a bullet in the parking lot. It's not situated in the best neighborhood.

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Our friend Blake takes care of us every time we come to Charlotte.

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Baltimore, MD

Saw J. Robbins and played with Deleted Scenes, an excellent band from DC and NY. Rainy night. Overnight drive back to NY for a weekend off so Chris can attend a wedding.

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Charleston, SC

Charleston was our first show of three with our friends from Tampa, Win Win Winter. BBQ is good in South Carolina, and they use the weird mustard BBQ sauce. Michael had the pork platter; everybody else had chicken.

After the show, we stayed with some nice folks in a big house in Charleston. Davey the cat featured largely in our after-show activity, as pets are wont to do in the world of Rahim.

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Wilmington, NC

Wilmington is the home of Gravity Records, an excellent independent store owned by our friend Matt. We hung out with Matt and his pack of intensely competitive and affection-hungry dogs in his new A-frame house.

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Before the show, Rahim went to Hooters. Though in theory Hooters is entertaining and silly, in actuality it employs real people whose profession it is to wear scrunchy socks and flesh-colored tights and make transparently uninterested small talk with lonely men. This is one take on it anyway. We’re not crazy about thinking of ourselves as sad lonely men and as a result had not the best time at Hooters. We advise one to enter Hooters in high and insouciant spirits.

Sometimes at a show the soundman is attentive and professional and the night goes smoothly. Other times the soundman is arrogant and demanding and difficult to work with, but often gets the job done anyway. On this occasion the soundman arrived five minutes before the show, set up three microphones, which hummed profoundly and unpleasantly, and disappeared as Win Win Winter began their set. This is our least favorite variety of soundman, especially when we’re reasonably certain that he is paid more than us.

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Tim stayed with his mom, who lives in Wilmington. She gave us a bunch of delicious fruit. The rest of us stayed with our old friend Peter and played snaps until late.

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Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is always basically kind to Rahim. Though our old friend Kieth no longer lives there, we played with our buddies Liverhearts – a good post-punk band - and stayed with Lee from the band. What more to say about Hotlanta?

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In 2006 Rahim played several Florida shows with a good band called Dear + Glorious Physician comprised entirely of siblings from a Gainesville family – the Westfals. They’ve since broken up, but we’ve seen them a few times over the years.

This time around we played with Aleutian Low, the band of the youngest Westfal brother, and crashed with Robin, the old bassist of D + GP. Robin has a couple of beautiful, excitable dogs - Beau and Red - and we spent bunch of time playing with them, as Rahim are wont to do.

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Excellent tufts!

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Showing Beau and Robin "V for Victory." Who wouldn't be amused?

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Red endlessly baits Beau, a Pitbull mix who could obviously slaughter Red. It's pretty big of Beau to play so gently.

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Day 5: Ybor City, FL

Lizards everywhere. It’s been two and a half years since we’ve played Ybor. It’s still here. It’s still fun. Centro Ybor is still trashy on a Thursday night, with its lurking drug thugs, frat contingent, and fishnet-suited flyer girls.

We played a decent show, ate and drank deep on New World Brewery pizza and draught, and had the pleasure of meeting Matt Zwiebel.

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Don’t let anybody tell you that all the characters in the world live in the city. In fact, I would claim the opposite. Take Kenny from Greenville, NC, or Matt Zwiebel from Tampa. We stayed with Matt and he never stopped talking for a moment. We hung out with his friends, his girlfriend Orel, and his cat, Sally. Sally performed her best trick “V for Victory” several times at Matt and Orel’s insistence and yowled loudly. We watched footage of Billy Joel on Old Grey Whistle from the early 70s on Matt's projection screen, narrated continuously by Matt (a fellow Long Island native). Orel fed us delicious beans and chicken late at night.

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"V for Victory"

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We thought perhaps Matt’s relentless enthusiasm would abate with morning sobriety. This was not the case. The Matt Zwiebel show continued. We had brunch. We fixed a flat in Matt’s driveway (proving remarkably handier than we had thought we were). Then we said our goodbyes and spent some time in the tire store in Tampa before we drove on to Gainesville.

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However Ybor turns out, it remains a strange haven on tour.

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Day 4: Athens, GA

In the van we listened to “Cowgirl in the Sand” from Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere record.

In Athens, our friend Kimberly had us over for a pre-show viewing of Project Runway. Many Athenians joined us, including Kimberly’s roommates, Spring Tigers, with whom we played at Go Bar.

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We ate Peruvian in Athens. Exotic? Yes. Not bad, but perhaps we should have hunted down some pit BBQ.

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Go Bar was dark but for its disco ball. Iron Hero played. We saw our old friend Coley, who is recently married and happy-seeming. We went back home with Kimberly and Eli from Spring Tigers and played Wii and Texas Hold ‘Em into the wee hours. There are these nights.

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Spring Tigers

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Spent in Georgia

Christian spent some time today vomiting in the bathroom of a Georgia back road gas station. The sounds resonated throughout the store as Michael ladled through a vat of boiled peanuts (Cajun style). This is Christian’s second vomit of tour. He attributes it to the swill we’ve been drinking (and claims it leaves a Lemonade taste in his mouth). Michael didn’t buy any boiled peanuts.
The big thing about Georgia is peaches. Peaches and peanuts and prayer in Wendy’s dining room over your Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. These are the big things Rahim took away from Georgia this time around.

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Charlottesville, VA

“Your equipment can just chill there,” said the kindly man at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. “I usually help set up the PA, but I got in a surfing accident and I have stitches in my leg.” He showed me the injury and limped off to make some tea or pack a hookah.

Before going to Charlottesville, we stuffed ourselves with giant beers and burritos at Cowboy Cafe, the bar and restaurant Chris' brother-in-law owns in Arlington. It was a hazy ride down.

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Though ill-attended, Monday night at the Tea Bazaar proved friendly and mellow. Christian smoked a hookah. Tea was dispensed liberally. A magical tree greeted visitors at the door. And the home-educated brothers of openers Arctic Rose were kind of enough to let us stay in the condemned bottom floor of their apartment. We stayed up drinking beers together and hanging out until things got weird.

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This gentleman slept next to me in Charlottesville. I accidentally took his leg and kept it by my sleeping bag. I'll bet he was relieved when I gave it back to him!

Greenville, NC: Christian’s Birthday!

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A good man named Jeff has been dedicated for the past few years to booking DIY shows in Greenville. First he booked at a place called the Spazzatorium, then at a place called 21 Eleven. But since both, like many DIY venues, have closed for typical reasons – licensing problems, inability to make money on a donation basis – Jeff has mostly been having shows at his house lately, the Spazz Haus. This was a fitting location for Christian’s birthday party.

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We arrived early and hung out on the rainy porch of a moldy house with some of the local characters around the corner. The man pictured below is Kenny, a gifted storyteller who immortalized for us a middle-aged gentleman in their community named Rick Star. Unfortunately, because of Rick’s knife-wielding antics, he is currently banned and we will probably never meet him. Nevertheless, we are glad to have met Kenny.

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After many rounds of NFL Blitz on Playstation, and a great set by local songwriter Nolan Smock (featuring a really beautiful cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days”), we played a sweaty set and drank beers with our strange crew of new friends until the desperate hours.

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