Anthony: “Man, that’s one hot cartoon bunny.”
Jeff: “I know. It’s criminal.”
– Something that was actually exchanged in regard to the entrance of “Lola Bunny” in Space Jam.
Sunday, March 18, Winnipeg
When the show at the Crescent Fort Rouge Church is over, and all our gear is packed and shipped back to our hostel rooms for the night, we spill out into the brightly lit streets of Winnipeg at night, a dusty and desolate Sunday, in search of sustenance, a classic tour story. There are some road-pops and good spirits being consumed and we walk for what seems like miles until we bite the bullet and actually punch in McDonald’s into our phone. A classic mistake, but hey, 11 guys have to eat. What we didn’t know is that when Ryan from Greater Than Giants punched in McDonald’s, his phone searched for McDonald’s Road instead. We walk back and forth for an hour and still nothing. We pass two police officers keeping an eye on a full night-club that is spilling into the street and becoming a UFC ring. They show us the rest of the way and we are embarrassed to find that our destination is less than 2 blocks from our hostel.
We enter the empty McDonald’s only to find that it is closed. There is a collective groan of exasperation as our efforts seem to have been for nothing. The night is saved as we are able to do a “walk-thru,” not something you find available every day. I am pretty sure that we order between 30-40 cheeseburgers, including fries and other various chicken products. Once we receive our order we notice that there is more than the order placed and quickly abscond into the night. The “Itis” sets in and there is moaning and cursing. We pass multiple emergency vehicles, bus-station girls, and popped collars on the way back. We are general hooligans.
Monday, March 19, Thunder Bay
We awake at 10:00 am to find that Van Halen will be all patched up around noon so we wait it out in the hostel and make a venture out to the local shopping mall to make good use of their food court. I get a coffee at Starbucks because the line-up at Tim Horton’s is stretching around the block and I watch the mall security guards take down Jay and Silent Bob in the most brutal manner imaginable. I never knew that asking for change required a baton and a two-on-one situation. Tyson and I finally catch a cab to Canadian Tire to pick up Van Halen. She purrs like a kitten and we are off to Thunder Bay at 2:00 pm.
It is a rather hot day so we make it a no-shirt-rule-in-the-van kind of a day as we attempt to make Thunder Bay by 9:00 pm. It is a tense and manic drive into Ontario as we push it to the limit with Paul Engemann. We stop outside of Dryden, Ontario for snacks at the gas station in the middle of nowhere, the one that still rents out vhs copies of “True Lies” and “Hackers,” and has a talking, robotic, fortune-telling fisherman in a box. Yep, it’s a real place. The locals guess that we are in a band and I try to make a couple new fans from our van. Unfortunately, it is not their style but they wish us luck and tell us to come hang out at the pub in Dryden. In retrospect, I kind of wish we had.
We arrive in Thunder Bay, to another old haunt, The Black Pirates Pub, and Greater Than Giants are just beginning their set. I cannot even count how many nights we have spent in this place, playing with excellent bands always on tour, turning the volume all the way up on “Panama” thundering out of the jukebox, enjoying a fine mini-pitcher, or 4, of the cheapest, finest ales. There is not much of a crowd for a Monday night, but I feel that both of our bands made some new fans in the people that did show up on the dreary night, and we even had a few of our old friends come out. Our set is cut short as the bar is closing at 11:00 pm so we rush through our set, clap our hands frantically and sing Acapella for at least 20 minutes and make it through 5 songs in an attempt to make another good impression.
As always it is good to see our old buddy Tim, our best friend in a far away place. He is always someone we look forward to every time we are coming through what we are now calling “the Eastern Passage,” the entrance and re-introduction to civilization. We have some brews to celebrate and then we head to another watering hole called “Hit The Deck,” a late-night bar we were never aware of that existed in Thunder Bay. It allows us to drink into the night, play billiards, rowdy foosball and get absolutely owned at darts by Dan Ball. “Papa-Dad taught me everything I know, he was in tournaments and shit.”
I think this picture sums up our night at the bar pretty well.
We head to Tim’s place afterwards, a stumbling drunken mess, and we attempt to pass out for at least 4 hours before we are up again to endure a grueling 8 hours drive all the way to Timmins, Ontario. Yes, the home of Shania Twain. Anthony and I call the couches in the living room and decide to put on the Warner Bros classic “Space Jam,” starring Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Bill Murray (of all people in the world), Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and all of the Loony Tunes cast we have grown to love. We figure it’s worth a laugh until we watch the entire thing, until, shamefully, the sun comes up.