Mark Mallman tour diary, Vol. 2


The zombie apocalypse might very well begin in Des Moines, IA. I can see em all now, loping out of the cornfield, eyes glaring like lost Wal-Mart dads. This guy at the show the night before claimed Iowa to have the highest level of radon in America. In the morning Aaron Lemay was watching Shaun of the Dead in prep for our lunch at "Zombie Burger." The buddy of the radon guy told us about a bacon cheeseburger with two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns. It's called the "They're coming to get you Barbara" burger. The geniuses at this restaurant also discovered a way to deep fry chili. And to think I used to doubt that we are, in fact, living in the future. Next time somebody complains to you about no flying cars, you go ahead and tell em about the deep fried chili.

After Zombie Burger, we jumped up on the tour bus and headed to the stadium. It makes me so happy to look in the mirror every day knowing that I, Miss Taylor Swift, have finally become an international superstar. My lawyer called. My dad called. I planned out the recording schedule for early November. We listened to Ministry:

Psalm 69

and debated fixing the air conditioner. 

In a short four hours, the Replay Lounge faded in. The crowd was sizable as well as the double gin drinks. Since we were still on break from Electric Six, and headlining, I closed an 80-minute set with a cover of "Transmission" by Joy Division. Funny thing, the other band we would on tour with, Kitten, opens their set with the same song, and it's really good - but fronted by a 16-year-old female. She really has it. She's going to be a star. Wait, when I was 24 they said that about me. What happened? That night, I ate a corn dog and slept on an air mattress. In the morning, the first non profane words to come out of my mouth were, "Aaron we gotta get some miniature golf in today."

We found a mini golf course with great waterfalls, but sadly no giant alligators. The green links were calm and cooling. My emptiness subsided. Then, we hit the batting cages. In between laughs Aaron asked, "Mallman, when is the last time you swung a bat?" I replied with "At a ball?" He shut up. 

 We drove into Kansas City to the Armada hotel, or Ramada, rather. The left half was closed, and four stories of siding were missing. There was a group of tattooed gentlemen in baseball hats grilling in the courtyard. Sometimes my gender lets me down. Walking past, I overheard one say, "I was thinking about you while I was sucking on them ta-tas." It was pathetic, those douches. A quick shower and off to the Record Bar. Three shows into the tour and my piano already broke. I taped the snapped keys together with medical tape. Here's the thing: if nothing is going wrong, you're not paying enough attention. I played a shorter version of the previous night's set, minus the Joy Division. Without music, I would be rather be dead. Instead, I felt fantastic. So I went to the bar for water. Yes, water.

An attractive hipster woman, who I guess to be in her late 20s, approached me. She laughed easily, and in doing so, the neon bar sign caught dark, sad circles around her eyes. She ordered me a whiskey sour, even though I told her I wasn't drinking, and put her hand on the back of my neck. I predicted this in its entirety within first sight of her. It was another band the night before, maybe at this bar or some other. The more I pulled away, the more she read my body language as a challenge. In Abel Farrara's vampire movie, The Addiction, Kathleen (played by Lily Taylor) rationalizes her thirst for blood as alcoholism. The common misconception is that the "groupie" is something we look forward to. That's like looking forward to razor blade in your birthday cake. It's naive to use this archaic term, groupie. Don't use it anymore. I prefer vampire. Use that instead. The next band started and she said "I know the guitarist," to which I replied, "I bet you do." She laughed, but I wasn't kidding. If you're a noob to this touring thing, I suggest you read the ancient Greek myth of The Lotus Eaters before mistaking your next free drink.

Flash forward: gas station. TV. Sleep. TV. Casino buffet was closed. Regular buffet was open. Mothra was on cable. We went down to the club and met up with Electric Six and Kitten. There was also a man in a golf shirt and a miniskirt, we did not meet up with him. Dick drank a banana daiquiri as the universe expanded. The last thing I recall before falling asleep was Dewey Cox saying "...and that's when I learned Quaaludes and water skiing is a bad idea. Now, you remember that." We woke up at noon and hot-wired the van. Suddenly we were eating Mexican food in Columbia, Missouri. There were four of us discussing the Clint Howard movies, somehow I managed to keep my chili rellano down. The set that night was my most rockinest thus far. It was good to see Dick and the band again. We played "Minneapolis" and I missed home. There was a young man dressed like the evil German from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He bought my entire catalog. That night, at the hotel, we were watching an episode of South Park where Steve Irwin's buddy said, "friends are to be treasured most of all." Then Cartman jammed his thumb in a cows butt.

We dismiss humor as frivolousness. I remember last summer, at my annual Twins game with the brilliant Tommy Mischke, whom I adore. He asked me if I was serious about music. I told him it was imperative that I was not. That the most frivolous moments are the ones we cherish 10 years later. That it was my position in the ant hill to spread happiness, thoughtfulness, and ultimately, love. So, yeah, people started calling me Mr. Serious out of irony. But anyone who has truly known me or my songs, knows that without the power of music, I would rather be dead. Dead. I've said that three times in this entry alone, so I hope my point is clear. I am also a man who believes that Will Farrell deserved an Oscar for his work in Anchorman. What is so damn wrong with making people smile? Why does Bob Dylan get credit as the greatest songwriter of all time just because he complains about everything? I so greatly admire someone like Brother Ali who spreads love and positivity in his music. This world can be an incredibly dark place for people. Believe me, I've known a bleakness that shattered me to the very core a couple years ago. We need to hold each other. We need to shake hands. Without love, this place is worthless. 

It was 3am, we'd just gotten to the hotel after wild roadhouse concert at Mojo's. I tried to fall asleep with a question mark over my head. I had one of my best friends, Aaron, and my new good friends, Electric Six, to tour with for the next three weeks. We had a seven-hour drive the next morning. But I was restless. I stared out the window of the hotel wondering about love, and maybe if aliens exist. Sleep wouldn't come for an hour or two. The night was calm. I counted the seconds between cars on the freeway. Every 10 minutes or so, the muffled sound of people going to their rooms would stumble past our door. "Nobody ever dies in dreams," I thought to myself. "99% of success is staying alive - the other 1% is staying positive." The rest was between me and the aliens. Somewhere along the line I guess I must have closed my eyes. All the while, the TV rambled on, like a river of bad ideas.

Read part one of Mallman's tour diary here.

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