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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

Max and Jason: Day 6

Chicago, IL to Cleveland, OH

EDITOR’S NOTE: Obviously, Max and Robin did a fine job maintaining this blog yesterday, but let’s be clear: This is MY blog. As of now, I am seizing the reins. Unless I get tired again, in which case I’ll make Max do it.

Robin and I have this game we play to occupy the time while driving; we call it the “I will not eat at…” game (or we would if we ever bothered to call it by a name). The game has no strategy; nobody wins; there is no point system. The object of the game is simply to create a never-ending list of things that would make you refuse to eat at a given restaurant. Sometimes it can be unpleasant things mentioned in the restaurant’s advertisements:

“I will not eat at any restaurant that urges me to visit their ‘World Famous Gravy Bar’.”

“I will not eat at any restaurant that uses the phrase ‘Now with EVEN MORE Lawry’s Taco Flavored Seasoning!’ in their advertisement.”

Usually, though, we just list names (or parts of names) that would exclude a restaurant from consideration:

“I will not eat at any restaurant with the words ‘Griddle’ or ‘Pantry’ in their name.”

“I will not eat at any restaurant with the word ‘Captain’ or ‘Cap’n’ in their name.”

“I will not eat at any restaurant with the phrase ‘Acres o’ (fill in the blank)’ in their name.”

Which leads to more complex combinations:

“I will not eat at any restaurant named ‘Cap’n Salty’s Acres o’ Squid’.”

Robin’s favorite “I-will-not-eat-at” restaurant name is “The Cranberry Pantry” which evokes a kind of chintzy “family style” restaurant that might cater to Middle American senior citizens who expect to receive a side order of Jell-O with every entree. Oddly enough, I just drove past a restaurant named “Cranberry Country.”

On a related note, if I was in the market for a strip club, I would not patronize one named “Cruisin’ Chubby’s Gentlemen’s Club,” which is another establishment I passed today.

I probably would also avoid the “Ho-Chunk Casino,” but that’s just me.

* * * *

This morning, we woke up grubby and exhausted and went to scarf down some breakfast at Panera, which, as Max has mentioned, is our favorite chain restaurant on this trip. Max ordered a toasted bagel, and we watched as the guy behind the counter sliced the bagel and then fed the halves into an industrial toaster via conveyor belt.

“That’s cool,” I said. “I want a conveyor belt toaster.”

“I want a conveyor belt everything,” replied Max. After a moment of consideration, he corrected himself. “No, scratch that. I want a Dr. Seuss everything. Little gloved hands on the ends of long, jointed rods would come out and grab the bagel and slice it and pop it in the toasting machine, and the toasting machine would have a cool name like ‘The Snargle-Gargle 2000′ which would be completely unrelated to its function…”

* * * *

Playlist for today:

Peter, Björn and John
Joy Division
Jason’s Buttrock Playlist

* * * *

Here are some things they have over in the Eastern Part of the country, which we do not have in the Western Part:

Toll Roads – It seems we can’t go 30 miles without slowing down for another toll booth, which is irritating enough. Worse, the toll is always different! Sometimes it’s 50 cents, sometimes 2 dollars, sometimes they just give you a ticket, which you return to them at a different toll booth, and they somehow calculate what you owe. And every time, there are 10 different lanes to choose from, depending on what type of vehicle, method of payment, etc. and if you get in the wrong lane they glare at you and sigh and make you loop around through the “idiot lane” and there are always people lined up behind you, honking their horns if it takes you too long to dig the quarters out of the ashtray. I find it very stressful, just like going to the emissions testing place (shudder). If this toll money was going toward highway maintenance, I could understand, but it clearly ain’t, because the highways out here are for shit. Max and I have taken to calling the Illinois interstate the “Clippety-Clop Highway” because of the sound our car makes while driving on the pothole-strewn, deeply scarred surface.

Animal Detectors – We’ve seen these a couple of times now; they are signs by the side of the highway, hooked up to radar guns. Presumably, if a whitetail deer or muskrat or grizzly bear wanders past the radar guns, the sign lights up, so you know to slow down. Seems like a neat idea, but just remember that if you pull over to the side of the road to pee in the bushes, that will also trigger the radar guns, and those damn signs will light up for a half-mile in both directions. I’m just saying.

Travel Oases / Travel Plazas – These are like tiny glass-and-steel shopping mall food courts straddling the highway every 20 miles or so, usually flanked by gas stations. You can pull off, gas up, eat a filling meal at Cinnabon or “The Doggery,” and be back on the road within 10 minutes. Why don’t we have these in Washington?

* * * *

Today we made it from Chicago, IL to Cleveland, OH in about 7 hours, and the Prius’ navigation system led us directly to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame parking lot. Brilliant invention, that nav system. Anyway, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which I shall henceforth refer to as the RnRHoF, is an impressive piece of architecture. Max and I wondered if it was designed by Koolhaas, since the criss-crossing steel framework overlaid with glass is so reminiscent of the downtown Seattle Public Library. But no, their official website tells me the building was designed by I. M. Pei, the same guy who designed the Louvre Pyramid.

At the entrance to the RnRHoF, there is a warning that says something like “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame contains exhibits depicting the Rock and Roll lifestyle honestly. Exhibits may contain profanity, nudity, and descriptions of drug use.” And, for once, the disclaimer didn’t oversell the content: I did, in fact, see all of those things. Primarily in the Doors exhibit.

You are not allowed to take pictures in the exhibits, but a security person told me we could take pictures in the lobby, so I did. The RnRHoF contains six full floors of exhibits, and – if you’re one of those people who is actually interested in the entire span of American popular music history – you could easily spend an entire day browsing. Me, I skimmed through the “Music of Ohio” section pretty quickly, and walked briskly past the Madonna and Elvis exhibits while averting my eyes.

The RnRHoF is not nearly as interactive as the EMP, but the scope of its exhibits is much broader. I was both mesmerized and overwhelmed. By the time I left, I felt stuffed full of music trivia and info. Max enjoyed it, but was understandably less interested in the Les Paul and Mary Ford exhibit than I was.

My favorite part was the Jimi Hendrix exhibit, which contained 20 or so of his most famous stage costumes, cartoons he had drawn as a child, hand-written lyrics to many of his songs (Didja know that “Purple Haze” was originally titled “Purple Haze, Jesus Saves”? Neither did I.), and a sad and sweet videotaped interview with Jimi’s dad, Al. All of which was exciting and informative and made me angry. Why isn’t this stuff being exhibited in Seattle? Paul Allen or somebody truly dropped the ball there. The fact that Seattle has only that frequently-defaced bronze statue up on Broadway in front of the Muzak building (or whatever) is a disgrace. If memory serves, wasn’t there a Jimi Hendrix Memorial Heated Rock at Woodland Park Zoo? In the “African Veldt” section? Yeesh. Come on, Seattle.

Here are some other notable things we saw at the RnRHoF:

  • The guitar that Dimebag Darrell was playing the night he was shot (R.I.P. Dimebag)
  • The original “Thousands of Polaroids” artwork for the Talking Heads’ “More Songs About Buildings and Food” album cover
  • The bass guitar that Peter Hook played on “Blue Monday”
  • Handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
  • The cameras and editing equipment used by D.A. Pennebaker when shooting “Monterey Pop”
  • Handwritten SubPop contract for Soundgarden
  • A telegram from Malcolm McLaren and the remaining members of the Sex Pistols to Sid Vicious’ mom, asking her to turn Sid’s body over to them
  • Postcards from Patti Smith to her parents, written while on tour in Europe, all beginning with the words, “Dear Mommy…”
  • Timothy B. Schmit’s (Poco, Eagles) collection of hotel keys
  • The football helmet Roger Daltrey was wearing on the “Odds & Sods” album cover
  • A Ziggy Stardust comic book
  • Peter Frampton’s “Talk Box”
  • Brian May’s tunic
  • The pianet played by Rod Argent on the Zombies’ “She’s Not There”
  • Jim Morrison’s cub scout uniform and report cards
  • The bass guitar destroyed by Paul Simonon in the classic photo from the cover of the Clash’s “London Calling”
  • A review of Jim Morrison’s “American Prayer” written by Patti Smith
  • New York Post from 1971, with the headline: “3d Rock Star, Jim Morrison, Dead at 27”
  • Quote from Tipper Gore, during those music obscenity/PMRC hearings: “I’m a fairly ‘with-it’ person, but this stuff is curling my hair!”

I also learned one last very important fact. First the background: A couple of weeks ago, after William’s big blow-out going-away party for us, I was helping clean up the mess. There were half-filled plastic cups everywhere, containing wine, pop, beer, punch, and who knows what else. Before recycling the cups, William was emptying them all into a vat containing the leftover punch, creating a nauseating witches’ brew. “Excellent, dude!” I said, sniffing the pinkish mixture, “You made some spodee-oh-dee!” This was a common term in Mountlake Terrace, where I grew up, but not, apparently, in the town where William grew up. Which led us to wonder where in the world the term “spodee-oh-dee” came from. Did it originate in Mountlake Terrace? After visiting the RnRHoF, I can answer with authority: Definitely not.

In 1949, a song titled “Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee” was recorded by an artist named “Stick” McGhee. Wikipedia fills in the details:

“Granville ‘Stick’ McGhee (March 23, 1917 – August 15, 1961) was an American guitarist (Brownie McGhee’s younger brother) best known for ‘Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee’, one of the earliest prototypical rock and roll songs, which Jerry Lee Lewis memorably covered. The song lent its name to the alcoholic fruit drink ‘spodi’; the ‘spo-dee-o-dee’ was a scat substitute for the original ‘motherf****r’.

“He grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee and first recorded ‘Drinkin’ Wine’ in 1947 to little fanfare. A remake in 1949 (as Stick McGhee & His Buddies) became a huge R&B hit. 1951’s ‘Tennessee Waltz Blues’ was another hit, as were several following singles, including ‘Jungle Juice’, ‘Double Crossin’ Liquor’ ‘Six to Eight’ and ‘Head Happy with Wine’.

“He earned his nickname Stick by pushing his polio-stricken older brother Brownie through the streets of Kingsport on a cart that he propelled with a stick.”

So now you know.

After our exhausting day of driving and absorbing decades of rock history, we retired to our hotel, got drunk, and jumped in the pool. Well, “we” jumped in the pool, I’m sure of that. But I think only one of us got drunk.

Tomorrow: Washington, D.C.!


  1. It’s “Remind me never to eat at a place …” and I made it up. Hand over the credit dude. Plus, you win if yours is the most hilarious, as evidenced by causing the driver to spurt rest-stop coffee out their nose.

  2. In Seattle … The Hendrix statue on Capital Hill … The Jimi Hendrix Rock at the Woodland Park Zoo where you can stand on it and see the zebras et al … plus, Jimi is buried in Renton and there is a new gaudy as hell Hendrix family burial area and “memorial” there … plus the EMP stuff itself … all Bruce Lee has is his grave …

  3. Yeah… i agree that Paul Allen and seattle in general dropped the ball on the Jimi hendrix stuff…
    But it sounds like the Rrhof (or whatever!LOL!) was a blast!
    Drive safe!

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