Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lane Splitting.The California Coast. The Emmy Awards. And Los Angeles.

Coming back from a job site today we saw a dude on a crotch rocket split lanes between two cars along I-74. My buddy Justin, whom I work for, looks at me and says "You do that shit?".
"No. Well not in IL anyway. I did when I was in California."
I proceeded to tell him this story...

I met up with my buddy Pete along Coastal Highway 1, leaving Big Sur. I had been in California for a few weeks so far with my friend Jen. Her bike started acting up beyond repair and she had to head back West in a U-Haul.

I rode to Big Sur after parting ways with her in Stockton. It was an emotional moment for us both. We had spent the last five months zig zagging our way across the country together. We had overcome many obstacles, some on our own and some with help from dear friends. Circumstances separated us at this point and it sucked.

She headed toward Denver and I headed down the coast. I camped in Big Sur on a Thursday night. Met Pete down the coast Friday morning. We had breakfast at a lil tourist trap roadside diner before rolling down to Ojai to meet up with my friend Dawn. We hung out a bit, had some food and a few beverages before heading to Pete's pad in Piru, just East of Ventura.

This is where I first "split lanes". In California, when traffic is slowed on the freeway, motorcycles are allowed to zig zag thru the traffic that stands still or is moving slow. Although, Pete being a native may have made up his own rules on this. I was apprehensive at first, but when in Rome...I just followed Pete and got a feel for the rhythm. Then I was good.

Pete took me on some awesome mountain back roads around the L.A. area. We spent all day Saturday riding and stopped at Neptune's Net along Rt. 1 in Malibu and and The Rock Store (which I remember from the show "The Wonder Years") along Mulholland in Malibu Canyon.

Sunday we drank some day beers so we could get some shut eye before reporting to the Bill Ferrell Company at 10 p.m. This is where I found my taste for Stone IPA. Dude had a kegerator and that was the constant  flavor on tap.

We drove to Sun Valley that night and met up with the BF crew before heading into downtown L.A. to the Nokia Theater. I spent the better part of that week working with dudes that didn't know me from "Adam" and they treated me like one of the gang. A really cool experience.

We worked our asses off tearing down the Emmy set. I was paid handsomely for my work and spent the next week seeking steady work in the area. The Bill Ferrell Co. said they'd keep my name on file, but as a roaming worker I needed more of a commitment than that.

A few days later I headed to Vegas.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Living Deads Adventure 5/10/2014

I got a call from my old friend Lane last week telling me the band he was touring with was gonna be in Lombard, IL Friday night and Pekin, IL Saturday. He used to play with a local Champaign, IL rockabilly outfit named Jakehead. We became friends about 14 years ago after meeting at one of his band's early shows. Somehow or another I ended up designing most of their flyers and did the layout for their CD. Many moons ago he moved to Nashville and is making his way in Music City. Over the years he'd stay with me when up this way, and likewise when I was passing through Tennessee.

I told him I'd see him Saturday night for certain. I then shot my friend Lisa a message about the show. I knew she'd wanted to see the Living Deads for some time. She was free that night, so we made it a plan. Saturday arrived and I hopped on the bike about 5:30 that afternoon and headed for Bloomington.

I got to Lisa's just a few minutes behind schedule. Only because I stopped at a gas station and had a twenty minute conversation with Ron, some dude that pulled up aside me in a pick up truck. He was diggin my bike and telling me about his pan head chop. He had twelve years on me, but we were cut of the same cloth. You know how it goes.

After figuring out just where the hell we were going, Lisa and I straddled the scoot and headed towards the freeway. About an hour later we arrived in Pekin and after a phone call to Lane, found the venue. The High Note is located in old store front along Court St. It's fairly close to the Illinois River and appears to be in an older part of town. We breezed right by it during our first pass on the strip because it is located on the second floor, and I'm pretty sure there is no sign. I didn't see one. The building was the former home of a Mason's Hall. There is still a symbol on the tin ceiling and a marker in the floor.

The Living Deads
Lane greeted us out front and after parking the bike we accompanied him around back to the RV. We sat and played catch up for about an hour, meeting his band mates Symphonyy and Randee. Truth be told I was not familiar with the Living Deads until last year when Lane mentioned to me that he'd been touring with them off and on. Since then I've been listening to them online and following their photos on social media.
I was singing along like an idiot and rockin' witht the band. If you ever get a chance to see this band, DO. You won't be disappointed. Randee and Symphonyy "kid nap" a different guitarist every so often and constantly tour. So chances are good they will be in your neck of the woods.

The band played for a few hours and the crowd was high energy and attentive the whole time. Afterward, Lane and I chatted a bit more before the RV rolled westward toward Indiana. Lisa and I had planned for the front end of this venture, but not so much the back end. We bid adieu to the band and went out front to where the bike was parked.

Randee, Lane, Barry, Symphonyy
We talked to a local yokel about a nearby motel but his demeanor made me think I was in a scene from the movie Gummo. When someone says "I've lived here all my life and never really been out of town." Adding to it "I don't even know my way around Pekin that well." it sort puts me on guard. Regardless, one way or another we got a little turned around. We zig zagged the streets of Pekin never finding a place to stay. We figured Gummo's directions were a little beer influenced and not exactly accurate and eventually ended up at Rt. 9. We took it. Thinking we'd just head back toward Bloomington and if we saw somewhere to stay the night we'd stop.

About 15 miles or so out of town we breezed by an old timey roadside motel. The theme of the place was log cabin influenced and their was a restaurant called Boss Hog's on the lot as well. I grabbed the brakes and made the second entrance, doubling back to the front lot. We parked and walked toward the office. Closed. There was a phone number for "after hours" but we weren't certain of what we wanted to do just yet.

I took a stroll to relieve myself behind a dumpster before meeting Lisa back at the bike, under the Banner Inn sign. While standing there fumbling with our phones, realizing we did not have cell service, we were discussing our options. About that time we heard a few voices in the darkness and noticed one of the motel room doors had opened and three individuals were exiting.

"Hey! Ya'll alright? Bike break down?" said a high pitched voice from across the lot.
Now given the time of night this was, and that we were in the middle of nowhere, there's always a certain level of "on guard" feeling you have.

I responded, "Nah, just taking a break." The three then began to walk towards us. So I began to walk towards them. Lisa followed. A little chatter across the parking lot ensued until we were face to face. Josh, Manuel and Annie were employees of the Inn and restaurant and had just gotten off work a few hours earlier.

Annie and Josh said "Nice bike" and Josh added "Is that a CB750 Honda?" I was thoroughly impressed. And I told him so. This kid had to have been in his mid twenties and I said "Man, how in the hell did you recognize that across the parking lot (the bike was about 60 feet away) in the dark?"

"Ah man, my dad had one of them. I recognized the four pipes coming out of the front" he answered.
Granted there are other bikes that have four pipes out front, but, he knew it, or was right anyway. Again, I was impressed.

We sat and shot the breeze for a few minutes, them telling us of their night and us of ours. Annie said "Ya'll wanna beer?" I responded, "That depends. You gotta room available?" Turns out she was the manager and they did indeed have a room so we took her up on the beer. During our conversation with our new found friends we realized that Banner, IL was actually not on the way back to Bloomington and that we had headed West out of Pekin instead of East. We had gotten more turned around than we initially thought. But all was good. If we hadn't, then we would not have ended up in Banner.

We stood and talked for quite awhile about bikes and life and just whatever. Then I revisited the room issue. "So what do ya need for one of these rooms?" She sorta stood there with this look in her eye and said, "Nothin.". I told her "No I can't do that. I have to pay you something." She retorted, "I tell ya what. We're having a Mother's Day Buffet in the morning. You come to the buffet and have some breakfast, I'll give you a room, and just pay it forward". With that, she was speakin' my language.

Eventually 4 a.m. had crept upon us and these three had to be up in just a few hours for the buffet. We were all pooped and agreed it was time to hit the sack. We again thanked them and retired to room number 12. Annie told me to park my bike up by her's, under the awning, in case it rained again (glad we missed that).

Annie's Shadow. Room 12.
The next morning we strolled across the lot to Boss Hog's for the Mother's Day buffet. Damn, the food was killer and the staff was awesome. Annie had said they had over 200 reservations that day. Pretty impressive for a town of 149. I didn't see the breakfast section of the buffet so I had fried chicken, salad, mashed taters and coffee for breakfast. Lisa mixed it up a bit. She was smarter than I and paid attention to the rest of the line and not just the first four tubs of food available.

After we filled our bellies we met Annie at the the register and paid the buffet fee. Which was damn cheap considering there was a room included. We slipped her the key and headed out to the bike. We hit Rt. 9 and headed west. There was a strong wind blowing but the sun was shining and it was a nice two lane cruise back to where we came from.

Some added pics from Saturday via Michael McMillen Photography with permission
Dude does good work, check out his page (https://www.facebook.com/michaelmcmillenphotography)