Scurrilous Rumors

8/13/10 – Athens Popfest (day off)

We wake in Birmingham in a wonderfully airconditioned house and discover a bag of fresh bagels has been left for us with a note (Thanks, Katie!).

We inexplicably watch Dangerous Minds and hang out with our two new dog friends, Ben and P.G. Then we decide to explore, something we’ve not had much time for on this trip so far, due to very long driving distances. We eat lunch at the Bottle Tree, the other main rock venue in town. Then, Nathan, Yoshi and I go in search of a thrift store. We drive around for an hour trying to find it. Circling, reversing, circling, fumbling with the GPS on the phone. Suddenly, the air conditioner in my car starts blowing hot air–like, hairdryer hot. I check the thermometer. It is 102 degrees outside.

We hit dead end after dead end as sweat pours down us in rivulets. Finally, we abort the mission and head back to Nate’s. Then, we get lost for another half hour trying to find Nate’s. All of the streets seemed to be named almost the same thing, and it takes us some time to notice. 42nd Court. No, wait, 42nd Ave. No, 42nd Place. Hang on, Linwood Rd. No, Linwood Dr. Oh here, Linnwood Way.

We stagger into the house. I frantically find a mechanic and call them. They inform me that it sounds like the compressor, a $1200 repair. Dear Reader, I confess, I had to excuse myself and go sniffle for a bit in private. I pull myself together and we make plans to take the car in to an Athens garage instead.

We caravan to Athens (the air conditioner miraculously starts working about 90 miles into the drive) and meet our friend Alyssa, who is kindly putting us up.

We go to the club and hang out outside for a while. Of course the second Yoshi approaches the front entrance, five people yell out, “Yoshi!” Between Yoshi and Nathan, we rarely go anywhere in the country without running into someone, or ten people, that they know.

Then we see Joe from Poison Control Center, who we briefly toured with when he was playing with Fishboy. Poison Control Center played after us recently in San Francisco and completely blew us off the stage. We had a rough show, and then they came out and did acrobatics, literally.

I ask Joe how their tour is going–I know they’ve been out for at least a couple of months already–and he says they will be out until at least the new year, that their goal is to play 250 shows. My jaw drops. Then he shows me a very bruised spot on his shoulder. He says he had recently broken his collarbone. I asked how it happened and he says, “Actually, it was because someone told me that you used to do handstands onstage.” “What?!?” I scream. “Yeah,” he says, “So I thought if you could do handstands, then I should try to do them–I mean, I have a song where I don’t play bass, so I wanted to do something cool.” He then details how he’d been practicing this move at a rest stop on the way to a gig and he fell over and snapped his collarbone. The most tragic part of the story (um, besides the broken bone part)? The handstand claim was false. I used to play tambourine mid-headstand, but would never, ever attempt a handstand on a crowded stage. Way too dangerous. The lesson here? Gossip hurts.

We go see The Apples in Stereo, who are great. Then we go to an afterparty where a random guy says to me, “Hey, I like your outfit.” “Thanks,” I say, thinking, wow, pop folks really are so freakin nice. He pauses for a second and then explodes: “Now get OUTTA here!” and points to the door. I stare blankly. Then, I decide to use my words, like they taught me in preschool. I tell him that he has hurt my feelings. He sarcastically offers me a Bandaid.

Nonetheless, I adore Athens. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make this city’s acquaintance.