Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Postcards from the Edge

I took a walk on the warm side.

It wasn't that far - only to Balliceaux - and passing by Edo's, a handsome man in a gray suit (no tie), gave me a courtly head bow and smile as I passed.

Some gestures never go out of style.

At the bar at Balliceaux, I found mixologist Bobby K., who greeted me by telling me he'd heard about my escapade at Heritage.

Except I hadn't been to Heritage anytime recently.

As the rumor mill had it, a food writer was alone at the bar (which is why they'd suspected me), as were two very inebriated restaurateurs-to-be who proceeded to drunkenly tell her she knew nothing about food writing, a tactical error which apparently resulted in them being ejected.

I was happy to inform him that I was definitely not the food writer involved, despite my penchant for dining out alone.

Before leaving him to his puzzlement, I got a glass of discounted pinot grigio from Alto Adige (the wine list is being overhauled so it's out with the old and in with the new) and made my way to the back room for a special installment of Secretly Y'All, Tell Me a Story.

Tonight, GWAR member Dave Brockie was doing an evening called "To the Volga and Back," which turned out to be part history lesson and part twisted travelogue.

He began by talking about his parents who'd both joined the British armed services at fourteen (they both lied about their ages) to be part of WW II, factors he think influenced his lifelong fascination with war.

Virulently anti-war, this information was a prelude to his tale of visiting Stalingrad.

The trip began by flying to Amsterdam with a friend to pick up two Dutch buddies and do what people do in Holland.

Showing a colorful slide, Dave said, "Holland is known for its windmills and you can get drunk in this one. And we did."

Judging by the slides, they might have also made stops at a few Amsterdam "coffee shops," judging by the slide of apothecary jars of weed and hash.

Apparently it was great stuff, too, because he told of  smoking and then trying to find his hotel room on a floor with only ten rooms.

"I could read numbers and I knew what room I was in, but I couldn't figure it out!" he said.

Special moments like that punctuated his talk, like when he left the stage, mic in hand, observing, "This cord is long enough that I can walk to the bar and get another beer."

It seemed he needed fortification for the next leg of his journey to Moscow.

"There are two types of women in Moscow," he explained, showing a  slide of himself ogling two pretty girls. "Babushkas and hotties. If they're not scrubbing floors by 9 a.m., they're wearing high heels."

An oversimplification, perhaps, but we got the idea.

Since the guys naturally ate at a McDonald's, he was able to assure us, "I'm here to tell you that a quarter pounder with cheese in Russia tastes the same as a quarter pounder with cheese in America."

Now there's something to fight for.

The highlight of the guys' trip to Moscow seems to have been the tank museum and a big part of Dave's talk was devoted to slides and descriptions of what he called "death machines."

"We were like kids in a candy store," he grinned, but looking around at the male members of the audience, they looked just as enthralled.

I don't want to insult Dave, but as far as I could tell, one tank looks pretty much like another.

He did point out that German tanks were far more deign-oriented while Russian tanks were merely utilitarian hulks that eliminated everything in its path, but I just couldn't see it.

When we finally moved on from the wonders of tanks, it was to hear about the group's 29-hour train ride to Stalingrad (now Volgograd to be PC).

They were on a  pilgrimage to see what was the largest free-standing sculpture in the world when it was built in 1967, "The Motherland Calls,"  a colossus of a figure of a woman, sword in hand, to commemorate the Battle of Stalingrad.

Actually, it was this battle that had been the reason they wanted to visit the city in the first place.

"It takes effort and time to get to see it," Dave explained, showing slide after slide of the slow journey up a hill and then 200 steps to the top, where his pictures showed men looking like gnats at the bottom of the statue.

And despite making it to the top, he admitted, "If I went looking for answers, I'm not sure I found them."

Their visit to Stalingrad coincided with the May 9th Victory Day holiday, marking the surrender of the Germans to the Soviet Union in WW II, so we saw slides of the celebration and pageantry of Victory Day.

Even so, he was no clearer on historical context than before he'd left.

"I still feel the same way about war as I did before I went. The only way to fight war is to battle against it. I utilize my rubber sword in GWAR to wage a love war," he said, sounding very peace, love and groovy.

He said he wanted to end by reading a war poem called "Wait for Me" to us.

"And no, that's not a trick ending," he grinned. "You're not about to be squirted with jizz."

Thank god and the motherland.

It was warm enough walking home on a hot, August night without that kind of stickiness all over me, too.


  1. I couldnt be there so thanks for the highlights

  2. Oderus Urungus tweeted your blog today!

  3. Very nice blog entry. The tanks are very different. and the journey Dave took was life changing. It would seem that educating and entertaining are not a perfect fit. But I thought there was a good amount of both.

  4. I know you're right about the tanks...I was just trying for some estrogen-based humor.

    Honestly, I thought he did a superior job of both entertaining AND educating. I learned a lot and he was definitely amusing! That's an amazing trip he took.