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After gaining an hour going from Cleveland to Chicago, we lose the hour to daylight savings time, then lose another hour going to Louisville, Ky. This leaves us minus one hour at a house party across from a funeral home in Muhammad Ali‘s hometown, where the former champ undoubtedly refined his famous poems as MC of crusty-punk shows while getting his Black Flag cover band off of the ground and convincing Don King to start a cassette-only free-jazz label. Okay, okay—-if Don wants to put out a re-issue of an obscure, out-of-print Harry Partch LP, that’s cool too, but the vinyl will have to be recycled and free-trade, and will have to glow in the dark.
We arrive at the show early and are hungry. Singer C. contemplates eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky. No one replies. We decide to eat Vietnamese food instead, spurning local fare for the cuisine of a nation thousands of miles away that beat our country in a war. Ironically, the restaurant we choose is across the street from a KFC.
Back at the funeral home, we play for 15 people and make $100. I try to sell one of our new 12-inch dance singles to a dude who isn’t interested. “I ain’t got no use for a 12-inch dance single,” he says. “You keep that dancing to yourself.” At the merch “table”—-really a corner of the front porch—-the guitarist of one of the opening bands reveals that she is a high-school teacher critical of teachers’ unions and, though she lives in Kentucky, a Michelle Rhee supporter. At least, that’s what it seems—-conversations about Michelle Rhee between white, liberal Michelle Rhee supporters are filled with coded language about race and class and punctuated with awkward silences, as no one seems to be sure what to think of her. We like Rhee—-but are we supposed to?
After the show, I drive to the Horseshoe Casino and, in three and a half hours, lose $80 at one of the tightest 1-2 no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em tables I’ve sat at in some time. The players clutch their chips as if they were J.R.R. Tolkien‘s rings of power, surrendering them only when they flop the nuts (which, reliably, they do, often when I am in a hand). I try to get a seat at a looser table but, for some reason, the Horseshoe’s poker room seats nine to a table, not 10 as is the norm in Atlantic City, and no seats are available. This may be because Southern Indiana’s poker players, regularly feasting on the nearby Paula Deen buffet, are larger than the average bear.