Saturday, March 9, 2013

It's Burger Time with Jesus!

Here's how I remember it: About 1999 we played our first out-of-town show. Thanks to Pete from The Chickenhawks, a true Hostages fan if there ever was one (he once called up the reviews editor of a very prominent punk rock fanzine and bitched said reviews editor out for trashing The Hostages one-and-only vinyl platter) we were booked to play at the VFW in Sioux City Iowa with the band Clowns For Progress.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with The Hostages let me give the briefest of backgrounds. I wanted to start the ultimate Rock and Roll band, combining the best elements of The Stooges, Motorhead, The Ramones, and Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. Full-blown, OTT ("over the top" for you non-Anglophiles) take-no-prisoners fun time get drunk try to get laid nasty snotty gross "what the fuck was THAT?!?" rock and roll. We succeeded on a small scale with most shows ending with me bleeding, naked, and concussed hanging upside down off the edge of the stage. We (actually I, because the rest of the band were fairly innocent) forfeited our pay on more than one occasion to cover the damages sustained to the host club's equipment. And I was well into my 30's at this point, which is when I really realized that I'll never live the "normal" life.


So back to the tale at hand… Pete from The Chickenhawks had become a big fan of the band and completely understood what we were doing and how firmly our tongues were permanently implanted in our cheeks. We left for the gig and drove the 5 hours southwest stopping only at the sleaziest truck stops in search of toilets and souvenirs.
When we finally reached the VFW Pete was there grinning ear to ear in anticipation of our chaotic set. We dumped our gear in the hall of the VFW and got directions to the nearest tavern.


Inside the Red Door there were no more than 5 people including the 174 year old woman behind the bar. Drinks were ordered and quaffed in copious amounts, until 30 minutes before our set time when it was decided that we had probably get back to the show. Our total bill was about $13 for 4 pitchers of beer and 4 screwdrivers. I told the other members of the band to each kick in $5.00 for a tip, explaining that we would have spent more than that drinking back home, and that if we gave the old lady a $25 tip she'd talk about it the rest of her life.


Strolling back to the VFW we passed a walk-up hamburger stand called "It's Burger Time". Since none of us had really eaten anything that day we detoured to the counter and scanned the menu. Dez, who rarely ate anyway, satiated his hunger with some "Good Fries". I guess any day was a "Good Fry Day" according to the owners of "It's Burger Time". Let me take this opportunity to point out that the apostrophe in "It's" was actually a small cross. Finally it's my turn to order so I step up to the counter. Facing me is a pimply faced kid with thick glasses and greasy hair. Straight out of The Simpsons, his voice cracked about 17 times when he asked if he could take my order. I got some kind of sloppy burger and a large Coke, or at least Northeast Iowa's generic equivalent of Coke. As The Simpsons Kid handed over the grub and the half-gallon of Northeast Iowa's generic equivelant of Coke he noticed the Motorhead shirt I was wearing.


"I used to really like Motorhead" he said, "but I had to stop listening to them when I became a Christian".


It took a minute for the gears in my thinking sponge to turn and process just what The Simpsons Kid had verbal led. When it finally registered I threw my half-gallon of Northeast Iowa's generic equivalent of Coke on the ground and calmly told the kid "God can suck my ass if He makes you give up Motorhead."


At that The Simpsons Kid looked at me like I had just shot his puppy, and, fighting back a tear, said "God bless you, and please come to It's Burger Time again."


When we got back to the VFW we related the story to Pete who said he was going to warn us about the Jesus Burger joint, but figured it would make for a better story if we discovered it on our own.


He was right. 


We rocked the 40 Iowa kids like they had never been rocked before, Clown For Progress were in top form, and The Chickenhawks closed the night on a very high note.
After the show was over one of our Super Fans (aka a ‘mentally challenged’ young man) came up to talk to me.
“Hey, Duuuuuude” he labored to get out, “y-y-y-y-you guys were………. Great!”
“Thanks a lot, man I really appreciate hearing that” I replied.
We made small talk as much as was possible, and I found out that the Super Fan’s name was Gary. Gary said he was starting a band and wanted to be just like us.
“Cool Gary! What’s the name of your band gonna be?” I queried
“Gary’s Band!” was his immediate reply.

About a year later The Hostages returned to Sioux City (the only other out-of-town show The Hostages ever played) and Gary was there. Before we played I cornered Gary and asked him why his band wasn’t playing with us.
“We’re not ready yet” he said.
“Well, let me know when you are ready, ‘cause I’ve been telling everyone in Minneapolis about ‘Gary’s Band’ and how awesome you’re gonna be.”
“We’re not called ‘Gary’s Band’ anymore, the other guys didn’t like it.”
And so dashed my expectations for the greatest band to ever come out of Sioux City.
And when I went back to Jesus Burger The Simpsons Kid wasn’t working.
And the old lady wasn’t at The Red Door.
All in all our return to SCI was kind of a let-down, although there were 100 kids there to see us.


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