Friday, March 21, 2008

Low Red Land: Tour Jams, Vol. 1

THE OPEN ROAD, Usa - Low Red Land tours more than most bands we know. Having had the opportunity to experience their road jams in person, we must say that it is quite absurd that these fellas are not all fat as cows. Ben-Jammin, LRL Bassist, GM rep, and JZ corespondent, reporting:

We're lucky enough to be able to travel around the country and play music. We meet lots of cool people, play with some cool bands, and eat our share of good and bad meals. Currently, we're in the middle of a two-week trip to Austin for the renowned industry handjob-fest known as South by Southwest. I am pretty sure that there are more people here in bands than there are people here to see bands. Fortunately, we've met up with several of our friends, both in and out of bands, and the trip has been great. The shows on the way to Austin, and the meals in those towns, were great (for the most part). So, here we go with the first-half recap of the jams I've encountered on this tour. Bon appetit.

San Francisco, CA

Good Frikin' Chicken: recommended.
Since the tour technically started on Wednesday night in San Francisco, I am going to have to chronicle my meal before that show. I went to Good Frikin' Chicken, which, despite the fact that they misspell their name, is awesome. The burps haunt for hours afterwards, making conversation in a crowded bar sometimes awkward, as you attempt to stifle the upwelling of garlic and spices that coat the roasters. It's often better to start a conversation with, "I ate at Good Frikin' tonight, so...I'm sorry." My only real complaint about the place is that they don't give you utensils with your to-go order, which makes eating the macaroni and cheese and salad a bit of a trick. Unless you're Lydia, I guess.

Ritual Coffee: on the fence.
Pro: good coffee, good almond croissants (more fresh than Phil'z but still below Cafe du Soleil), good ham and cheese croissants. Con: pretentious baristas with enough bad attitude to sink a cargo ship carrying skinny jeans and fixed gear bikes. Pardon the tangent, but a fellow jammer stopped in to get a drink and drop off some flyers. When she asked if she could have an iced tea, the reply was, "Yeah, but why would you want that?" She then asked if she could drop off some flyers, and she was told that they "don't support that kind of stuff, and besides, it's bad for the environment." So, what about the flyers in your windows? What about all of the paper cups and cup holders and napkins and receipts you give out and throw away every day? If you're going to be a jerk, don't be so short-sighted and hypocritical. Just shut up and make drinks. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I suppose it depends on the day.

From San Francisco to San Diego, CA

Gas station jams: gallons of water, bananas, the occasional Snickers. It can be incredibly tempting to buy something every time you stop, but you must avoid it for two reasons: 1) you'll become a fatty and 2) you'll become a broke fatty. It's best to stock up on bulk snacks that aren't that bad for you before you embark on your trip. I like bags of Mini-Spooners (generic Frosted Mini-Wheats) and almonds. They keep the hunger down and they've got some decent dietary benefits.

Subway: meh.
A jam non-event, but the only real option near where we stopped for gas. The "Sub of the Day" is a pretty good deal, and even if you're vegetarian, you can usually just order the sub (unless it's tuna or meatball) with all of the veggies and remove the meat. It'll save you less than a quarter, but you're really sticking it to the system.

Dairy Queen: why not?
I have a weakness for ice cream, especially when it's covered in hot fudge and peanuts. Oh, and whipped cream. Remember what I just wrote about not buying something every time you stop? Whoops. We stopped to get an oil change and there was a DQ beckoning me from across the way, saying, "Come pass your time a little more sweetly." I heeded the siren's call and splintered the hull of my mouth boat on the soft-serve rocks. It was only a small sundae. Sue me.

San Diego, CA

Crazy Burger: recommended.
Not bad. After walking around a really shady part of SD for a while, we found ourselves on the outskirts of civilization and in front of this establishment. Fries come sprinkled in parmesan cheese, salad comes with pretty much white iceberg and a few red onions and tomatoes, and the burgers are either rare, medium, or done. The Texas Burger is good but a total rip-off. The only thing "Texas" about it was the barbecue sauce they pooled on the patty, and there's a bottle of the same barbecue sauce at every table. At about a dollar more than the regular burger, this costly mistake is likely only made once. I wonder if they realize how many people order the texas burger and then sit down and curse themselves while looking at the full bottle of barbecue sauce. Still, a relatively cheap and certainly fulfilling meal option.

Coffee shop: recommended, but it doesn't matter because I don't know what it's called.
The coffee was good. There were several tables pulled together and crowded by about 15 or so grown adults talking about the mind and infinity, but not in the interesting, scientific way. More in the "I once had a black light poster and a bong and now I'm old and do tai-chi in the park" kind of way. Entertaining to listen to while you stir in your half-and-half.

Brian's mom's house

I jammed a cold piece of chicken after I got back from my morning run. It was good, tasted like it could have been fried, but looked baked. Turned out it was from Von's, a local grocery store chain. When everyone got up, she made eggs and Pillsbury butter biscuits. I love staying with families.

San Diego to Tucson, AZ

Mini-Spooners and water. It's really dry out there.

Tucson, AZ

Dunkin Donuts: recommended, chowdah.
Growing up on the east coast means growing up with Dunkin Donuts. Their coffee is certainly an experience. With automatic cream settings depending on the size of the coffee you order and more sugar than you'd like to admit, some people may say that it's too sweet or too light to be "real" coffee, but I don't agree. DnD is rare in the west, and doesn't exist at all in California. I think the closest one to us is in Tucson, and we were very excited to roll up on it before the show. One of the perks of tour is drinking this coffee.

Brooklyn Pizza Company: meh.
Young hipster central, slow on the service (if you serve slices of pizza, why not, I don't know, have some pizzas constantly cooking so you can have slices ready?), but better pizza by the slice than I've found in San Francisco. It appears that all of the underage kids go there to drink. I had two slices, one cheese, one with ricotta and pepperoni (I ordered sausage, but I'm told I'm lucky I got pepperoni). For around 5 bucks, it's not a bad deal.

Courtney, Jenna, and Brian's house, post-show

We ate cold, homemade mu-shu pork casserole that disappointed Courtney and Jenna when they made it earlier that night but made Brian, Julie, Jill, and me very happy. The next morning, breakfast was eggs with tomatoes and mushrooms, potatoes, strawberries with mint, sausages, and various pastries. Amazing. Jenna made it all, except for the doughnuts. A total jam.

Tucson, AZ to Albuquerque, NM

Encountering the Jamwich (see previous entry) at a gas station:
Just after consuming a Choco Taco, I noticed that our friend Amanda had purchased a Jamwich. Mark, Neil, and I immediately bought one each and had a contest to see who could eat it the fastest. The Jamwich is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (strawberry or grape) that is sealed like a Hot Pocket. You can find them in the cooler of some of the finer truck stops on the highway. Bleached white bread crimped on all edges conceals a double-layer of peanut butter encasing a deposit of jelly. It tastes almost exactly like it should, except there are no crusts to get in the way of the squishy thickness of the sandwich. The first bite makes you realize that this is not a racing food. The peanut butter and the bread become stickily gelatinous, and I made the mistake of taking two big bites right off the bat. After some effort and concentration on chewing really hard, really fast, and swallowing before I felt I was ready, I made some headway. I actually thought that I could win it, but Mark beat me, and I immediately regretted trying to force so much of the Jamwich down at once. Video of the event can be viewed on the Kyte section of our MySpace page. After eating the Jamwich and feeling full enough, I finished off the rest of Julie's salami, provolone, and olive sandwich just because.

Albuquerque, NM

More Dunkin Donuts. This one makes you put the cream and sugar in yourself, so you are fully aware of how bad it is for you. It's a little disconcerting knowing how much you have to add to make the coffee taste like it normally does, but you suck it up and do it because there's no point in getting Dunkin Donuts coffee if it's not going to taste like it.

NYPD Pizza: recommended.
Last time we were in Albuquerque, our friend Stue recommended we get a fried eggplant and green chile pizza from NYPD. It was awesome, so we did it again. I'm normally not down with eggplant, but this was cut into little strips and lightly fried, so it didn't have that weird texture that typically makes me turn away. The green chiles add a little bit of spice, but nothing big, and really add to the flavor. The crust is thin and the whole thing was delicious.

Stue's house, post-show

Chris, Stue's wife, had prepared a spread for us when we came back from the show. Dates stuffed with parmesan cheese and wrapped in Facon (vegetarian bacon), strawberries with black berries, grapes, various cheeses and crackers. And then came the real bacon. Sweet food from some sweet people.

Round two of the tour jams is coming up shortly, featuring some Texas barbecue and some awful, awful Mexican food. Awful.


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