trek—-with a lone drive day in-between. My band burned through these 1,000 miles in excitement. Our Des Moines show was with Dischord heroes Branch Manager! We did get to meet Branch Manager in Des Moines. By way of greeting, the band informed us that our show was cancelled.
Though I was robbed of a chance to play in Iowa a decade ago, my Iowan dream was destined to be realized. Earlier this week, I performed at the Picador, an Iowa City hotspot. Upon meeting the soundperson, I learned that Iowa was a very literal place.
“I’m Red,” said Red, the soundperson. Red sported red hair and freckles.
“I intuit that you have been dubbed ‘Red” because you sport red hair and freckles,” I declared.
“Yep,” said Red. Iowa—-a literal state indeed.
My Iowa debut (see above) got even more literal when literally three people came to see my show—-a pleasant couple and a pleasant large man. The pleasant couple left upon learning that my band was scheduled to play at 1:00 a.m. on a Thursday night. The pleasant large man, however, remained. During my band’s performance, this pleasant large man stood in front of the stage and shouted out the names of various songs my band had composed. We played some of these compositions to please this pleasant large man, but our mission—-to perform for a one-person audience, a la the Velvet Underground performing for Andy Warhol—-was absurd. After a short set, we retired to a local Iowa City inn.
“Are you in a band?” asked the innkeep.
“Yes,” I replied. “Perhaps you guessed this because of my fine form and sparkling attire.”
“No,” she said. “My fiancÃ© is in a band. Where did you play?”
“The Picador,” I replied.
The innkeep sneered. “That place was formerly called ‘Gabe’s,'” she said, “a local dive with bathrooms of ill-repute. The refurbished Picador does not showcase the same dive-bar aesthetic as Gabe’s once did. Many Iowans resent the change.” The receptionist then made a list of four other clubs that we should have played instead of the Picador. Then, inexplicably, she upgraded our room to a suite.
“Thank you,” I said. I gave the receptionist two CDs to express gratitude and retired to my upgraded suite. If I return to Iowa, I thought, I will still probably play at the Picador. The Picador seems peachy-keen. The question is not where I will play in Iowa, but if I whether I will play Iowa at all. I have yet to answer this question. I settled down to sleep on a couch in my upgraded suite. The couch was just a few inches too short.
Well, I thought. So much for Iowa. Now, Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and New Mexico remain. Then, retirement beckons.