4430 miles traveled – writing from Hell, uh, I mean Nevada.
The sweet allure of the tour has begun to wear off.
We are escaping Reno (expletive starting with F and ending in ING) Nevada. I want to start this off by saying that J and I are not Reno kind of people. We don’t gamble, we don’t smoke, and we don’t eat meat. All of which seem to be requirements for being in R-F-N.
Actually, we’ve met some pretty nice folks in Reno. It’s not my intention to dis the beautiful people here. I just have a lot of trouble in places like Reno because of my overly political uptight moral philosophical social cultural obsession. Come on, everything in Nevada, and I mean everything, is a casino. The gas stations, hotels, restaurants, the post office, everything! It’s creepy; we’re getting the hell out of here.
As I write this we are speeding along the arrow straight Interstate 80. J and I have managed to stave off driving insanity through a series of mental exercises, mostly involving 80s music. As we drive forever through the same (expletive starting with F and ending in ING) desert for hours on end, we’ve been singing 80’s music at the top of our lungs. I’ll try to keep you appraised of what we’re singing as I write.
“Who wants to be a millionaire? I do! I don’t!”
(The big ABC hit from the late 80s. We take turns with who sings “I do!” or “I don’t!”
Last night we decided to get a jump on our huge drive to Laramie, Wyoming. After our hellacious load out of U of N, we decided to drive the two hours to Winnemucca Nevada. As we pulled out of the student union, the warm colors of sunset smiled down on us, but as we drove out of Reno, inky darkness descended, the merciless blackness of the desert night. A few miles down the highway the winds began to shake the truck, followed by vicious dust storms. [J note: “vicious” may be a bit of an overstatement, as may “storms,” but is airborne dust ever really a fun thing? No.] It was like the dark evil hand of Reno was clawing at our truck, “not so fast hippies, oh no, you can’t get away.”
It was after a few miles of intense driving that J uttered the incantation to complete the terrible spell Reno had cast on us, “Well, at least it’s not raining.”
After three and a half hours of snail-speed driving, we arrived at the (of course) casino that was to be our hotel. We parked our soggy truck in the back parking lot, dragged ourselves past the gauntlet of slot machines to the counter. While I checked in J checked out the tricked out four-wheeler filling up most of the lobby, the in-hotel Taco Bell, and the drunken men in cowboy hats. I wondered at the magnificently obscure song playing on the hotel sound system (Private Life by Oingo Boingo), nearly drowning out the gambling a hundred feet away. I hope the surrealness of this is not lost on you. A cheesy casino in the middle of nowhere Nevada was piping in obscure 80s post punk music while I checked in. Mildly happier, we went to bed.
“Tainted love, I’ve got to [clap clap] get away. I’ve got to [clap clap] run away.”
(A cover by Soft Cell, it’s a scientific fact that almost every good 80s song was made by gay English men.)
Driving the next day: I must say the land is still pretty. Golden arid plants stretch for miles with large volcanic rocks poking out every mile or two. It’s enclosed in every direction by soft mountains. The thing that doesn’t fit is the towns. As long as we’re in the desert every town looks alien, out of place. The harsh conditions make everything look run down, and in every town the architecture sticks out like neon against the flat dry surroundings. It’s like the landscape is saying, “Ya’know, people don’t really belong here.”
“Word up, it’s the code word, no matter where you say it, you know that you’ll be heard.”
(Cameo’s “Word Up”, possibly the funkiest song ever made. And the best use of the word “Yow”)
You ever seen those signs that say ‘Speed Limit Enforced By Aircraft’? What is with that? Do you know anyone who has been pulled over by aircraft enforcement? My theory is that it’s a scare tactic. I’m testing the theory by driving 90 while J is sleeping.
“I am human and I want to be loved, just like everybody else does.”
(The smiths, “How Soon Is Now?” One can only sing this song while making a mopey face.)
Oh, I should also mention that someone shot our truck the other day.
Ok ok calm down, it was only with a paint gun. Someone shot our windshield, WHILE WE WERE DRIVING, with a paint gun. Having experienced it, I must say it’s a mild shock to be navigating treacherous mountain roads and suddenly have the windshield go opaque bright pink. After we stopped screaming, J and I downgraded to not amused. I peered around the pink spot until I was able to drive to a gas station and get it cleaned off properly. When we stopped we discovered that whoever shot us had really gone after us, there were 4 or 5 [J note: 2 or 3, but still…''''.] hits on the front of the truck alone. To defend poor maligned Nevada I should mention that this happened in the mountains of Idaho after we went white-water rafting.
“So much drama in the LBC it’s kinda hard being Snoop D O double G. Some how some way I keep coming up with funky ass shit nearly every single day.”
(“Gin and Juice”, originally by Snoop Dogg, we like to sing along to the equally offensive bluegrass cover by the Gourds.)
During the show in Reno, I booked us in the Atlantis Casino Hotel and Spa. I figured that we might as well stay somewhere nice for the week we were there.
The casino itself is roughly twenty-two square miles. We had to park our truck across the street and twice a day, before and after every show, we would walk across the parking lot, up a two story staircase, through a bridge that contained two restaurants and four hundred slot machines, down another two story stair, through another giant hall of slot machines, past five more restaurants, the poker floor, gift shops, even more slot machines, and the fake indoor waterfall to reach the center of the hotel where the elevators were.
And here’s a little tip about hotels in Reno; they charge for EVERYTHING. They charged us one dollar per local call. They charged us twelve dollars a day for internet service. They snuck all these fees onto the bill as we checked out.
“People are people, so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully.”
(Depeche Mode, this song has a great sentiment, but I can’t help but sing it in a funny English accent.)
There were some unusual people staying at the casino. One night I went downstairs to get us a fruit tart from the overpriced pastry counter. As the doors of the elevator opened I was met by a fellow casino dweller, “A gambler!” I didn’t bother to correct her, but just smiled instead. “Have to get down to the gambling, eh?” My smile was getting mildly strained, but I gave it a try. Luckily at that moment she shifted her attention away from me to yell, “Another gambler!” to the man who entered the elevator. As the doors opened on the first floor I walked out to the strains of, “Enjoy the gambling, ha ha!” fading away behind me.
“It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin.”
(Pet Shop Boys, further proof that only English gay men can make good techno-pop. To do this song justice, you must sing it like Axel Rose.)
The single biggest perk of the casino experience was that they had an arcade a short elevator ride down from our room, with a Dance Dance Revolution video game (for only 25 cents per play!) We started and ended every day with DDR.
“The air was flowing and she was right there with it, and she was.”
(Talking Heads, “And She Was.” It’s mandatory to sing the really fun part, “Hey hey hey-hey heeeeeeeey. Hey hey hey-hey heeeeeeeey”)
On our last night we decided to eat in the casino. J called around asking which was the best restaurant in the casino if one were a vegetarian? She was transferred four times and the general response was, “Uh.”
One nice lady finally admitted, “The Atlantis is not really safe for vegetarians.” We finally decided to eat at “Caf? Alfresco” which I can describe in one dramatic image. Imagine a Denny’s. Got it? Ok, now imagine someone has overtaken the Denny’s, they’ve dressed the entire Denny’s staff in suits, they’ve wrapped the menus in cloth, given every Denny’s dish a fancy French name, and then added ten dollars to every price. Oh, and add fake palm trees.
“Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals, everybody happy as the dead come home. Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis, no one move a muscle as the dead come home.”
(“Nemesis” by Shiekback. If anyone knows what the HELL this song is about, please email us. Oh extra points to any song that rhymes the word “Nemesis” with “Parthenogenesis”)
The outrageously expensive Denny’s did have very good Gelato though.