Tour Diary: Hootie & The Blowfish Boulevard is a place that exists and I went there

Our trip from Raleigh to Columbia is mercifully rainy, bringing the temperature down to a very nearly tolerable level. Our show is at a cozy house venue called Shredquarterz. We arrive quite early, and take a walk into town for coffee. At the main intersection, we encounter this:

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Turns out Hootie & the Blowfish are from Columbia, and are figures of sufficient repute to warrant their own street name. There is also a monument, which I couldn’t get a picture of but which can be seen here. If that isn’t an accurate visual representation of the joy Hootie & the Blowfish have brought to all of us, I don’t know what is. Further investigation into this phenomenon leads me to the interesting factoid that Bob Dylan sued Hootie & the Blowfish for the unauthorized use of some of his lyrics in “Only Wanna Be With You”. I would never have guessed there would be only a single degree of separation between Darius Rucker and Bob Dylan. History has much to teach us, if only we are willing to listen.

Shredquarterz is unique among house venues and places I have been ever for its possession of an adorable baby squirrel. Look at this guy! They let me hold him and everything! He is about the size of a hamster and is so little his tail isn’t even all fluffy and curly yet. His name is Goat. I am overcome with childlike glee at his arrival.

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And here he is being fed milk out of a syringe by one of our hosts (I didn’t use flash cause I didn’t want to freak the little guy out).

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This is so cute I can’t even fucking deal with it. As a kid I always wondered where baby squirrels were; how come you never see them? I just knew they would be adorable. He is extremely soft, like a chinchilla. After a few minutes I can tell he is getting freaked out by all the attention, and as soon as I give him back he pisses a tiny little squirrel-piss all over his owner’s shirt. Really dodged a bullet there. The owner changes into another shirt with a pocket, and Goat crawls right in there and falls asleep. He sleeps peacefully in the pocket in the fetal position for the duration of the evening. We speculate about what a human heartbeat might sound like to a squirrel at such close proximity. You’d have to mic the heart with a contact mic, spectrally analyze it, and then cross-reference that data with the frequency range and sensitivity of the squirrel’s hearing. Determining the latter is a pretty complicated task, and most readily-available data about squirrel hearing is more concerned with the high register, as that information can be used to calibrate devices that repel them by emitting extremely high-pitched sounds inaudible to humans. We may never know, but he is quite at peace in there.

The show itself is a good time, albeit comparably hot to the underside of the devil’s balls. Openers E.T. Anderson and Dear Blanca are excellent, and I am particularly impressed by the former for it being their first show ever. My first show ever is probably best forgotten. It is fun to use Greg’s giant bass cab, and sit on one of two spacious porches afterwards, one of which had a swing. People in Columbia are extremely warm and friendly, and since we were staying at the house where the show was, there was no particular rush to get anywhere afterwards. A rare luxury. Someone puts on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as we drifted off to sleep, which is way dumber than I remember it having been back in the day. Does that mean I’m an adult now?

I get my first solid 8 hours of sleep in the last week or so, and immediately start catching up on work since it is Monday back in the straight world. I take a short break to go to eat breakfast, and stop at Papa Jazz to pick up some tapes for the van. Everyone who works there had been at the show the night before. On the way back to the house, I see a Chic-Fil-A, and can’t resist.

I know Chic-Fil-A and I are enemies, due to their pigheaded stance on marriage equality, but I just couldn’t resist their delicious chicken. I’ve donated a decent amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign over the years, so I figure that ought to balance out the fraction of my purchase that is used to fund bigotry and intolerance. Julian points out that I am, in effect, purchasing Chic-Fil-A offsets, much as a company that pollutes can purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the damage they do in conducting their business. Have any nonprofits really looked into the offset concept as a fundraising idea? You could purchase a book of Chic-Fil-A offset coupons for your LGBT or ally friends and coworkers, allowing them to feast on top-notch fast food chicken secure in the knowledge that the moral balance of the universe has been restored by your donation. Your purchase goes to a pro-LGBT charity, and every time you eat at Chic-Fil-A you just tear up one of the coupons. It’s like indulgences under the Medieval Catholic Church. That worked great, right? Anyway, look at this fucking chicken. It is great. The nuggets are real chunks of actual chicken meat, not a fried sludge of fillers and garbage bits. You can tell they use a really good fresh oil like peanut oil. I want some more right now.

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