Bartlet Diary No. 4.
November 5, 2003
“… Now we’re back together, Misunderstanding? Didn’t understand! Doesn’t matter, Now we’re back together again. Ah la la la la la Couldn’t split up Kato and Nash (that’s true) Couldn’t split up Tango and Cash This is our song of exultant joy Because we only came to kick some ass Rock the fuckin’ house and kick some ass What we gonna do with all the cash? Smoke hash! … And everyone’s invited to the BASH!”
— Thanks to Tenacious D.
Yo, Bartlet B-Bear here to start the party. Got my Wild Turkey and my flask. Actually, I stole the flask from Paula’s violin case.
My boyz Tenacious D are on some kind of freakin’ hunger strike for world peace. Or their album going platinum. So boys, I drink this Wild Turkey in your honor.
Speaking of Wild Turkey, my long-term memory’s on the fritz. After all, the tour ended October 24th, and yeah, it’s November 4th and I’m still only on October 20th. Well, tough. My stupid owner Paula has a job, and her stupid job gets in the way of Bartlet here writing these diary entries for Freedom Man and Randle! (NOTE: If any company liason representatives or publicists for Wild Turkey are reading this online diary account, hey, Bartlet Bear here is your man, er stuffed animal! I’d be happy to promote your wonderful elixir for a small fee… or a lifetime supply of Wild Turkey. Do you need a mascot? Forget the turkey, bring on the bear!)
MONDAY OCTOBER 20, 2003
Today is a day off/travel day. Kind of like when shows in Vegas go dark. Everyone wakes up early – there are no hangovers. Everyone was smart and drank lots of water before going to sleep.
Paula’s roommate Ana boils water for her daily morning ritual of Argentinian Yerba Matte tea. Or as I like to call it, freakin’ SLUDGE.
(For those of you interested in Argentinian culture… or just wanting some trivial pursuit to impress Ana when you meet her, cuz she is ONE HOT ARGENTINIAN VALLEY GIRL… according to http://www.healthandfitnessforums.com/yerba.html, “Yerba Matte is a tea consumed mainly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the perennial tree Ilex paraguarensis. A tea native to South America and has been used for centuries as a health tonic and beverage. Containing 196 active compounds, nutrients, and amino acids, Yerba matte is touted as the new healthy alternative to coffee. Additionally, it is believed to act on sensory organs to assist dieters in reducing food cravings.”)
Okay, Bartlet reality check: Every morning, Ana would wake up early (she’s the early riser, Paula’s the cranky late morning riser, Ana claims Paula snores but Paula’s pretty sure she doesn’t, but Paula does keep Ana up late at night opening and shutting drawers… don’t ask. That’s a whole other diary entry.) … anyway, Ana would brew hot water through the hotel coffeemaker, then fill her mug with the Yerba Matte tea leaves, then fill it with water, and it would thus turn into… SLUDGE. Yep. Then she drank through this silver straw that had some filter at the bottom. Every single morning. “Yerba Matte helps you focus,” she kept saying to Paula like it was some mantra. Paula tried it and being her typical open-minded New Age hippie self, Paula claimed to actually LIKE the sludge. Said it had a piquant flavor. PIQUANT, my ass. The stuff tasted like GRASS. Not the good grass. The kind suburban lawns in Brentwood are made of.
Anyway, everyone packed, got into the passenger vans, and drove to the next city – Arlington, VA. Mike Fornatale drove the white passenger van from hell. Why was it from hell?
1. You could only open one side door from the inside; the other one had to be yanked open from the outside. 2. The first row of passenger seats had no seatbelts. 3. The back row of passenger seats had trouble staying bolted down. 4. Mike Fornatale drove the van.
OKAY. I’M JUST KIDDING ABOUT NO. 4. MIKE FORNATALE, I’M JUST KIDDING. Mike F. was a gracious, wonderful driver. Until we got to New York, where his native New Yawkness took over and the man drove like a freakin’ maniac. Then again, everyone else drives like a maniac, so he fit right in. (More on that later.)
It was a pleasant enough drive – Daddyo was buried in one of the many gigantic historical novels he likes to read. Carrie and Probyn ate more of Probyn’s fabulous home made dried fruit/nut/trail mix. (Hey, I’m a freakin’ bear… of COURSE I like trail mix! I believe Probyn should copyright his recipe and sell it and make a fortune. I’ll be his trail mix bear mascot.) Julie fell asleep. Mike listened to his Tenacious D CD while Dan listened to his free jazz Cds and Paula played Lord of the Rings on her Gameboy Advance. Me, I was crawling on the floor, trying to find any leftover trail mix. Mmmm, almost better than my Wild Turkey.
We passed by all the usual suspects – the Pentagon, the Capitol, the Washington Monument. It was a clear, beautiful, brisk afternoon. We then checked into the Econo Lodge. It was a three-story U-shaped motel. (Why do you care if it was U-shaped? Stay tuned… keep this detail in the back of your mind.) Everyone checked into their rooms… turns out Paula and Ana’s room had a connecting door with Heather and Julie. Bartlet Bear here suddenly had visions of the four of them getting into a pillow fight and…
Sorry. I think I passed out for a second. Okay, moving on. So the gang decided it was time to explore DC on their last day off before the hell part of the tour (three shows in three nights) would begin. They took a shuttle to the subway, figured out how to use those ticket machines, and headed to the Washington Monument. They all stared up at the tall Washington Monument, remarked how tall it was, then took tons of photos of the Monument, the Capitol in the distance, and then headed to the Lincoln Memorial. The reflecting pool was under construction, so it was completely drained. Everyone had fun walking down the dry pool towards the Lincoln Memorial as the sun set.
Even Bartlet Bear here has to admit it was a pretty awe-inspiring sight. Paula made Bartlet read the entire Gettysburg Address outloud and she and Probyn started ranting about how eloquent and articulate people were back in the day (the 1800s) and how they respected language and there was no need to reduce everything to a pitiful soundbyte and…
Then I told Paula to lighten up. She shoved me back in her backpack. Damn.
Then they walked to the Vietnam Memorial. Everyone was respectfully silent. Paula pulled me out so I could read the names. Even I was moved. It was beautiful.
Then everyone split up for dinner – some went to get some Ethiopian food while the others headed for an English pub that didn’t serve Guinness on tap. Huh?
The Ethiopian food gang joined up with the pub gang at the pub later that evening. More merriment ensued while everyone ate tons of food and drank lots of Guinness and Harp. Rusty ordered the surf-n-turf and Paula ordered the prime rib. She ate the whole goddamn rib, AND the scalloped potatoes AND the vegetables, and then I think she tried to eat the plate itself.
Afterwards, everyone stopped by a local liquor store to buy several bottles of cheap wine. They headed back to Paula and Ana’s hotel room (of course) to party. But given that Paula and Ana had hosted the party yesterday, Randle decided it was his turn to be gracious host. So the party moved two doors down to Randle and Chapple’s room.
Chapple hooked up a teeny amp with some wires and other MacGyver-type devices to a CD player and entertained everyone with a CD compilation of the worst demo rejects from a famous record company, including this one guy who sang about trick or treating. Then Randle played some more Tenacious D. Then Rusty wanted to hear some smooth music and so it was Steely Dan time. (Ladies, Nosey Meddling Housewife Paula tells me that she wants y’all to know that Rusty is single. Operators are standing by. Actually, so is Dan. Operators, still standing by. Thus ends this Public Service Announcement.)
Then Heather starts saying she’s got sore muscles. YEAH. BARTLET BEAR’S HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE. So Rusty gives her a back massage. Apparently, Ladies, if Rusty didn’t play the guitar so well and sing so beautifully and write such amazing songs, he could make a living as a masseuse. He even gave Paula a massage cuz she was complaining about a headache. YEAH, RIGHT, I’VE HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE TOO.
Then Probyn, also another amazing musician-who-could-start-a-massage-parlor type, gets into the action. Soon EVERYONE IS GIVING EACH OTHER BACK MASSAGES.
Bartlet Bear is so excited. Now! Finally! Rock star deviant behavior! Before long, it’s gonna be one big giant ROCK N’ ROLL orgy… oh wait, what’s that sound?
Remember how I said the hotel was U-shaped? Well, kitty-corner from Randle’s room is another hallway facing their room. There was more whistling coming from that area. Everyone looked out the window or stepped onto the front porch balcony to see who was whistling.
And yes. It was a lady of the night. A blonde woman dressed in nothing but a grey tank top and matching grey underwear. Apparently calling out for her next customer. (And this, Gentle Reader, is NOT a joke.)
It is at this point that Bartlet curses his human owner Paula. Because what did she do? THE BITCH FELL ASLEEP!!!! Apparently she drank too much wine, had a terrible wine headache, and passed out on Randle’s bed. (And no, it’s not what you think. Heather was sitting right next to her. And no, unfortunately, it’s not that either.) So I have nothing else to report on the Econolodge Lady of the Night.
So all Paula remembers is waking up 45 minutes later and witnessing two things: 1) Chapple in the middle of one of his quirky dance moves, entertaining everyone in the room. (That guy is so quiet and calm and normal… until he enters what became known as “Chapple Time” where he basically morphs into Mick Jagger.) 2) Everyone still talking excitedly about the mysterious ECONOLODGE LADY OF THE NIGHT.
But Paula’s still got her wine headache, so she grabs me and goes to her room. Damn. I was gonna give the ECONOLODGE LADY OF THE NIGHT my digits. Paula then wakes up Ana by opening and shutting all the drawers. Then she goes to bed and falls asleep immediately.
Bartlet Bear stops by the Econolodg Lady of the Night’s room, but she takes one look at me and says, “I don’t do teddy bears.” Goddammit. Knew we should’ve stayed at BEST WESTERN. I bet the Best Western Lady of the Night wouldn’t turn down a teddy bear. Once you go teddy bear, you don’t go back, BABY… !
TUESDAY OCTOBER 21, 2003
The next morning, the gang decides to go get breakfast before checking out of the hotel and going to the Birchmere venue. Gene had directions to some diner just a mile down the road, but after driving around in circles, Gene realized his directions were BOGUS.
Fortunately, the sexy and amazing Carrie piped up in the back of the van – “Actually, I passed several restaurants on my run earlier this morning.” For those of you that don’t know, Carrie is a world-class marathon runner on top of being an accomplished writer and violinist. The girl runs like 57 miles every freakin’ day. Without breaking into a sweat. Don’tcha hate that?! Turns out her run took her to a cobble-stone-lined street filled with dozens of restaurants and bookstores.
Everyone in the van is grateful to the Mighty Carrie as she directs Gene to restaurant nirvana. We head to the magical street of many restaurants, and everyone decides to eat together at a local diner. Then the gang stops by the bookstore so Rusty can pick up The DaVinci Code and Daddyo can pick up Master and Commander.
We then check out of the hotel and head for the Birchmere, which is a mere ten minutes away.
WAIT A MINUTE. WAIT ONE GODDAMN MINUTE. WE? Who’s WE? WE checked out of the hotel? BULLSHIT.
Let me rewrite this to be more accurate… everyone ELSE checks out of the hotel and heads for the Birchmere. As for me? Where am I during all this??!!
That bitch Paula leaves me on the freakin’ FLOOR of her hotel room!!!!! She completely FORGETS to pack me in her backpack. I’m stuck on the floor, screaming my head off, “BITCH! YOU FORGOT ME! YOU’RE LEAVING ME BEHIND!!!” but stupid girl doesn’t hear me. She hops in the van and heads off with the Love gang to the Birchmere venue for a 3 p.m. soundcheck, dinner, and show. They’re gone. Forever.
Me, I’m alone, lying on the floor of an empty hotel room. I’m three inches tall. Like I can walk to the Birchmere. And there’s no freakin’ alcohol in sight. And I gotta pee.
Then I hear the dreaded sound of the vacuum cleaner approaching and a hotel cleaning lady heading towards this now empty room. Oh shit.
TO BE CONTINUED…
NEXT: Rusty’s running commentary onstage, Birchmere concert gets rave Washington Post review, the infamous all-night drive to Newark (including a stop at a local graveyard), and the gig in Boston…