Aug 292014
 

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I had this large piece of canvas just hanging around and I needed something to occupy myself so I started painting random people that I am/have been obsessed with at some point in my life. Just, off the top of my head, I picked celebs and it was oddly comforting. If I don’t have something to do, I’ll sit around and think about things and no one needs me thinking about things, believe me. Pittsburgh will inherent a pollution problem.

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It took about a week, but I finished it last night! Henry is super stoked to have to see it every day for the rest of his life, but he’s going to be even more stoked when he has to go out and find the perfect gaudy frame for it.

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Shortly after Chooch was born, Henry and I stumbled across Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance and it was one of those things where we were fucking exhausted, Chooch was nursing so much that I was basically a couch-prisoner, and all we wanted was mindless entertainment. So we left it on. And then became obsessed. I never knew watching people dance could make me cry so much! So I picked Nigel Lythgoe, one of the original judges, to be the first person on the painting.

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If you’ve been my friend since at least 2008, you know my love for gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi runs deep.

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One of the best things about the advent of digital cable was The Game Show Network. All of those new channels to flip through and my friends and I never changed it from GSN. Especially if Match Game was on! I looooved Match Game and all of it’s amazing 1970s fashion and complete disregard for political correctness. My favorite panelist was Brett Somers and to this day, I covet those bug-eyed frames she wore with such panache. Fuck, she was fantastic.

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My mom took me to see Hot to Trot starring Bobcat Goldthwait in the 1980s and ever since, I think of him every time I lose my shit with giddiness because my punch-drunk laugh sounds remarkably just like his retarded bray-like way of speaking.

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Tammy Fay Bakker because she was such a train wreck. I was so obsessed with her for awhile that Henry made me a LiveJournal icon with her popping up from behind a hill. I don’t know, it’s just what I wanted, OK?

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I was obsessed with “Romancing the Stone” when I was a kid, because why not. What a great kids movie, right? I watched this movie a lot because I thought Michael Douglas was so goddamn hot. Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough” will never fail to make me think of this movie and how much I miss the 80s. AND THEN MICHAEL DOUGLAS, DANNY DEVITO AND KATHLEEN TURNER WERE IN THE VIDEO!

After I picked Billy to be one of the people on my painting, I decided to listen to him on Spotify for some inspiration, and was instantly reminded of the time in middle school when my friend Christy and I were at the mall and I decided to buy his greatest hits from the record store Waves on the third floor. But for some reason, I was embarrassed about this, I guess that was before I quit caring what people thought about my musical choices. So as I was paying, I loudly and theatrically shouted to Christy, who was only standing a foot away from me, “I SURE HOPE OUR FRIEND SUSIE LIKES THIS CD.”

I still have that CD too, and I regret nothing.

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I’m sorry, Beyonce fans, but Barbara Streisand is the greatest female singer in the world. Sit the fuck down, Kanye. I have loved her ever since I was a kid, ESPECIALLY HER GUILTY ALBUM WITH THE BEE GEES OMG. But yeah, Barbara Streisand is the fucking shit and I will white knight her until I die.

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Jeffrey Dahmer was my first foray into the dark underbelly of humanity. I remember watching the news coverage in real time and just thinking, “Holy shit, this is real life?” I’ve been super intrigued by serial killers ever since—obviously not in an adoration sense, but you know what I mean. I thought it would be apropos to include at least one serial killer on this painting since Henry and I spend so much time making our serial killer greeting cards and Jeffrey was actually the one that spawned those. The Christmas card with his mug on it was the first one I ever made.

So, there’s a quick little summary of what I was thinking when I painted this. I’m pretty excited that it’s done and I have eight random slices of my own personal pop culture preserved forever!

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Aug 292014
 

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If I was forced to submit one quintessential quote to sum up my childhood, it would be “wolfman’s got nards.”

I was in elementary school the first time I saw The Monster Squad. Probably third or fourth grade? It was on HBO and my little brother Ryan and I were like, “…the fuck is this!?” It instantly became a Kelly Family Classic and I was so proud of myself when I caught it from almost the beginning one time and recorded it over top of my dad’s recording of Platoon. (Haha.)

I still have that VHS tape somewhere in a box in the attic. It’s labeled Monster Squad, etc. on a piece of masking tape and I watched the shit out of it all the way into my 20s until a few years ago, when I excitedly bought the DVD for Chooch. He liked it just fine, I guess, but didn’t latch on to it like he did with The Lost Boys. I was disappointed, but at least I finally got to watch it from the very beginning and without the 5 seconds of Platoon/brief static/slo-mo transition into the first scene of Monster Squad that I had grown accustomed to throughout my childhood. This flick was right up there with The Lost Boys, Goonies, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Midnight Madness, as far as my childhood goes. We even named our pet rabbit Rudy after one of the boys!

It is a fucking timeless classic.

The other day, Kristy (one of the only people I know who shares my adoration for this movie!) texted me and said that the theater in the Waterfront, which I usually avoid like the plague, was going to be showing Monster Squad on Wednesday and I was like WE WILL BE THERE. Chooch was like, “What movie? I don’t know. I guess” and was totally blah about it because he IS SO TIRED AFTER HIS LONG, HARD DAY AT SCHOOL, YOU GUYS. SO VERY TIRED.

I was hoping my brother Ryan could go, because what better way to relive our childhood together than by shouting Monster Squad quotes at the big screen, but he sadly had to work.

When we arrived at the theater Wednesday night and Kristy’s daughter Sarah had a Slushee in her hands.

Let me tell you a short story: The night before this, we had met Chris and Monica at Antney’s for an ice cream date, and after rejecting his strawberry ice cream and then half-heartedly eating a consolation chocolate peanut butter cone, Chooch wanted a Slushee. Of course we were like, “Fuck you, spoiled brat. You just had two kinds of ice cream when you really shouldn’t have had ANY” so he proceeded to sit there and literally interrupt HIMSELF with whines about wanting a Slushee. He was so tired and irritable, that we should have just left him in the car. (I mean, with the window down! Cracked, at least.) That little fucker bitched about his lack of Slushee the whole way home. “My throat is so dry and you won’t even stop at a GAS STATION to get me a Slushee. What kind of parents ARE YOU?! I know I was a mistake!” He had basically written his emancipation speech before we even pulled into the driveway, and then he proceeded to go straight to bed. So, good riddance.

Flash forward to the next night and now he practically has a Slushee doing a striptease in his face, so I was like, “OMG I WILL BUY YOU A FUCKING SLUSHEE HOLD ON.” Turned out to be the best decision ever, because he nursed that bitch through the whole movie, like he was sucking it straight from a unicorn’s teat.

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Slushee Date.

I was happy to see that there was a relatively decent tour-out for this viewing. I didn’t realize until I was an adult how underrated and unknown The Monster Squad actually is. Henry had never heard of it until he fell into my dark vortex (my life or vagina?) so I mocked him endlessly until I realized that he was actually part of the majority on this one. Unfortunately, he opted out of watching it on the big screen because Lowe’s was calling his name. Good riddance.

Before the movie started, some dude with a microphone talked about all of the upcoming classics that they’re going to be showing, and when he mentioned the Robin Williams tribute night, Kristy whispered, “Don’t cry” and I was like HOW DID YOU KNOW!? Because I was totally crying, just at the mere thought of a Robin Williams tribute night. Sigh.

And then the guy finally shut up and Monster Squad started and so did my tears. Again! I hate how emotional I am. I blame Chooch. I never fully recovered from pregnancy.

You guys, this movie holds up so well. It was just as funny and exciting as it was when I was a kid, because now that I’m an adult I understand more of it, haha. And for Chooch, who hadn’t watched this since he was probably 3 or 4, it was like seeing it for the first time. He was cracking up really hard, and EVERYONE clapped during the pivotal “Wolfman’s got nards!” scene (that quote is right above the signature line on my checks!). IT WAS SO EXCITING!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH!!

“Dracula just doesn’t give a shit,” Chooch yelled at one point. Unsurprisingly, his favorite part of the movie was all of the swearing. Especially since it’s mostly kids doing the swearing. And then near the end, there is one part that has always ALWAYS always made me cry, and I glanced over and saw that Chooch was straight sobbing during the same part. We’re so emotionally fucked.

The next day, I was on an actual Monster Squad high. And all last night, Chooch would say things like, “Remember when Dracula was like give me the amulet you bitch?” And “Remember when Shawn was like hey asshole, you looked?” It reminded me so much of when Ryan and I were kids and would leave each other notes full of quotes from the bad movies we loved. I think I need to plan a Kelly Family Classic movie night soon.

Kristy, THANK YOU for the heads up on this! I would have been so sad if I missed it!

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Aug 272014
 

Today I’m going to tell you about some things I’m currently obsessed with, because don’t you all give so many shits about what I like? Obviously.

1. This version of PVRIS’s “St. Patrick” makes me feel like I’m being emotionally cuddled. (There’s no screaming in it, if that usually deters you from clicking “play” when I post YouTube videos, haha.

2. Cantaloupe! I know, such a small thing to obsess over, but usually cantaloupe is that one fruit I pick out of fruit salads because it’s always so over-ripe (under-ripe?) and tasteless. But Henry has won the cantaloupe (and watermelon!) lottery this summer and has been bringing home some of the sweetest, juiciest melons this side of 1990s porn.

3. Emarosa. Big surprise. But I can’t remember the last time I felt this much anticipation brewing inside my gut for a new album. I thought this band was never coming back, and now here they are, with a singer who is a million times better than Jonny Craig, and every single song and snippet I’ve heard thus far has felt like dynamite in my heart. I get to see them again in 2 weeks at Riot Fest and I’m so excited that I could just fucking SCREAM. They just released another single yesterday, and this is the one I’ve been craving ever since they played an acoustic version of it last May when I saw them on the Devils Dance tour. It is amazing. It is brilliant. It is so Emarosa and I must have listened to it 87 times last night after we came home from an ice cream date with Chris and Monica (or, Chronica). Here is Henry’s face during the Emarosa marathon:

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Here’s the album version of “People Like Me…” even though I posted the live version last week. YOU SHOULD STILL LISTEN TO THIS ONE BECAUSE IT’S BOMB AND WHEN BRADLEY INTERRUPTS HIMSELF AND SAYS, “NAH, FUCK IT” I GET SO STOKED.

I fucking love you, Bradley Scott Walden. I’m ready for this fresh start, in so many fucking ways. #Goodbye2008

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 4. Halloween Desk Planning! I came up with this year’s theme a few weeks ago and have already started collecting some key elements. I’m pretty excited for it, but also worried that it will be a huge failure because taking last year off kind of makes me feel like I’m off my game. Barb even said that I’ll never be able to out-do my Murder Desk from 2011 and believe me, don’t I know it. This year’s theme will be subtle (kind of) but also requires a lot of work and searching for things. (Luckily, these are all things that I have been wanting to add to my collection anyway, so acquiring them won’t be superfluous.) I can’t wait to tell you what I’m doing! Secrets are not  my strong-suit.

5. Painting faces. Actually, just painting in general. These last several months have not been the greatest for me (just inside my head; not anything serious, like job-related or with my home life). I feel like slowly, things are starting to come back to me, even after years of not practicing, even though some people still call my art “paint-by-numbers” and kind of roll their eyes when I try to show them things I’m working on, because they’d like me better if my “talents” were more of the culinary variety, I guess. So sorry. Juvenile art is the best you’ll get!

(ALERT! Jeannie was just over here and she said that she likes my art and that I have a very distinct style, so suck it, haters. Jeannie is hard to please!)

(OMG you guys, my family gave me such a complex, I apologize, lol.)

Anyway, I painted this one of Jesus yesterday, because why not:

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Also, this beast that’s still in progress:

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6. Henry In a Suit. OK, I haven’t written about Kaitlin’s wedding yet because I need to do that at home and not sporadically at work like most of my blog posts come into fruition, but can I just post this picture of Henry here and chirp about how much of a crush I have on him when he wears a suit? Heart-eyes for days.

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A quick list of things I’m currently NOT obsessed with:

  • CHRIS LEAVING THE LAW FIRM, BOOOO.
  • Summer basically being over.
  • Volatile mornings (a/k/a “Getting The Kid Ready For School”).
  • Being strung along; luckily, strings can be cut.
  • The neighbors.
  • Not having all of the time in the world.
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Aug 142014
 

You guys. Remember on Sunday when I was like “OMG TONY STEWART MURDER NASCAR AHHHHHH!!!!!”? Well, after I posted that on here, things got worse. Because you know me and taking obsessions too far.

The problem is that I have some friends who are just as asshole-y as I am, so when I was sitting there thinking, “Who do I know who would appreciate this so we can commiserate together?” my friend Bill immediately came to mind.

Now, Bill was around back in  the day when I developed an unfounded obsession with Phil Mickelson and a poker-hot hatred was formed for Payne Stewart simply because he beat him one time when I was paying attention. Bill actually just brought this up when we were visiting him and Jessi last June. So I thought, “Bill will understand this new thing for Tony Stewart.” So I texted him and he totally fired back with a string of texts, encouraging me to paddle away in my douche canoe and making me nearly pee myself with laughter.

“He might be homicidal, so that’s a plus. Not as cool as dying in a plane crash….” Bill replied when I told him that Tony is my new Payne. Bill continued to fuel my fire and I was scream-reading his texts out loud to Henry, whose mustache was writhing in frown-formation.

“He must be hardened by the sad facts of his hero Tony Stewart being a homicidal maniac,” was Bill’s reason for Henry’s non-laughter. So then it was decided that Henry REALLY LIKES Tony Stewart and I was practically bashing my head off the wall out of pure, extreme mania.

Henry left for about an hour to go grocery shopping and I was just sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, trying not to explode with giddiness, when it occurred to me to paint a portrait of Tony for Henry as a surprise gift. And that is what I did Sunday afternoon while Henry was running bitch errands at the grocery store.

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Even Chooch was like, “Mommy! Calm the fuck down, OMG. It’s not funny.”

When I texted Bill the picture of the final product, he said, “I can’t see any outcome that doesn’t involve Henry dropping to his knees and sobbing tears of pure joy and appreciation.”

I KNOW RIGHT?!

WRONG:

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“Seriously?” he sighed, when I produced the painting from behind my back. This was after I called him and, around outbursts of throaty giggles, asked him to please hurry home. He sounded really scared, and then he LOOKED really scared when he was getting the groceries out of the car. Probably because I was standing at the door with my hands behind my back, smiling.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for the people who have to look at me when I get like this. I must look insane. BUT NOT THREATENING AT ALL, I’M SURE.

“This explains why you didn’t call and text me constantly when I was at the store,” he muttered. So really what he was saying is that he was already scared before I even called him to tell him to hurry home.

Later that night, Bill texted me a picture of race car-shaped chicken nuggets and said, “In honor of Tony Stewart, I’m eating these for dinner.” Bill is basically like the drug dealer to my extreme giddiness addiction.

****

Meanwhile, Henry totally didn’t want to take Tony to work with him, so I took it to my dumb work and now he resides on my desk, where Glenn makes excuses to look at him every day because he just can’t get over how fantastic it is. I told Glenn the whole back story and he was like, “Wait, do you like him because he killed a guy, or do you hate him because he killed a guy?”

GOOD QUESTION. Both? I don’t know. I’ve been really been confused lately. Help.

Then the other day, my boss was walking past and she stopped abruptly.

“Is that….Tony?” she asked hesitantly.

“OMG YES!” I cried, happy that someone recognized him. I quickly recapped the story of how I found out Henry is a secret NASCAR fan (which he is still denying, FYI) and Sue said, “Well, wait…did you paint this before what happened, or….”

“Oh, totally after the incident. That’s why I’m obsessed with him now.”

“OK….” she said slowly, and then shook her head and laughed because Oh Honestly, Erin.

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Here’s Tony guarding the blueberry snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich I scored for signing up for community service at work. I actually saved that motherfucker all day (and I worked from 9am-8:30pm that day!) so that I could share it with Henry after work, because on the real, even though Henry was like “*frown frown frown*”, he is the only person I’ve been with who has ever let me just be me. It’s true! I have been thinking about that a lot this week, how painting Tony has made me remember how much I used to love to draw, how I was going to go to the Art Institute (I dropped out after orientation, lol), how I used to fucking write stories nearly every day. And then I stopped for a long time and I was thinking about why, what made that happen, and it’s because all the guys I dated before Henry kept me in the shadows. It was always about them: their band, their music, their writing, their art. And so I just kind of stopped doing everything. Not to get all Norman Rockwell Painting up in this piece, but Henry is kind of the best and he lets me grow instead of keeping me smashed down under his thumb.

So thank you, Henry and your secret Tony Stewart fandom, for making another piece of me fall back into place. Maybe one day I’ll be myself again.

***

I just asked Glenn if he thinks Tony will be safe on my desk when I’m not here, and he very dryly said, “Yeah. I’m sure no one will take him.”

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Aug 062014
 

Man, I was making some new RIP Glenns today at work when I realized it’s been awhile since I did a nice, big, satisfying RIP Glenn dump up in here. So, here’s all the dead celebs I’ve used to deface Glenn since…April? I think April. I’m really tired.

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This was supposed to be H.R. Giger’s famous work from the movie Alien. “Supposed to be.” My apologies for desecrating your work, Mister Giger.

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I legit cried over this one! And then a week later, “The Brady Girls Get Married” was on TV and I cried all over again.

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I looooooved The Young Ones (bought the whole series on VHS from Columbia House in the 90s!), but opted to go for Rik Mahall’s portrayal of Drop Dead Fred instead because that’s more recognizable. Otherwise, it would be like trying to explain my Sidney Crosby/Sid Vicious shirt all over again.

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That’s supposed to be a raisin in the sun. Get it? Because Ruby Dee was in the movie “Raisin in the Sun”? I know, these get worse and worse. And then worser and worser.

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FUNNY STORY: When Casey Kasem died, I mused out loud, “I don’t know if I want to turn a Glenn into Shaggy, or have a ball dropping behind him.” Henry was like, “WTF are you talking about? What ball?” and I was like, “THE NEW YEAR’S EVE TIMES SQUARE BALL, IDIOT.” And Henry was like, “THAT’S DICK CLARK NOT CASEY KASEM.” And I totally knew that too, but somehow I combined them into one person and thank god Henry corrected me or else everyone at work (I mean, everyone who gives a fuck about the RIP Glenns, anyway) would have ridiculed me for some time. Especially BARB. That would have been sweet, delicious payback for her after all the times I’ve called her out for being WRONG.

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Really sad about this one too! I loved Designing Women when I was a kid.

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FUNNY STORY: I needed some Wite Out for this one and when I went to open it, the brush was stuck and I yanked it entirely too hard and wound up with Wite Out on my face, in my hair, on my keyboard, on my computer screen and worst of all, on my black shirt. :( I forget who, but someone at work was like, “Who uses Wite Out anymore, anyway!?” because everyone loves those correction tape strip things. I was like, “ARTISTS WHO ARE TRAPPED IN OFFICES, OK?!” Seriously, that shit is the closest thing to white paint I have at my desk. I have made many a Glenn with it.

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James Garner was also in  the Rockford Files and Henry and I had a big fight about that once when we were in Rockford, IL and I was like, “Is this were the Rockford Files was supposed to take place?” and Henry was like, “No, it was called the Rockford Files because that was the guy’s last name” and I was mad because I wanted to be right so we fought about it. Which, you know, typical. Henry wanted me to make a Rockford Files Glenn but I was like “FUCK YOU! MAVERICK GLENN FTW.”

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I forgot that Johnny Winter died mid-July but I was reminded of that on Friday when I was at Dave’s Music Mine with Terri and Christian (whose visit I still have to write about but I am so lazy this week!). Glenn was like “Who is that?” and I said “SHUT UP, GLENN.” But then I told him, because I love schooling people.

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“I was going to email you about that one,” Glenn mumbled disinterestedly as he walked by my desk and saw me furiously working on the Marilyn Burns masterpiece. I think he was secretly excited about it, so I used that as my chance to ask him which RIP Glenn is his favorite.

“Oh gee, there are just so many to choose from. I don’t think I can pick a favorite,” he said in his patented monotone, BUT I think I detected just the tiniest spark of glee.

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Jul 272014
 

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For your consideration: a 5×7 acrylic homage to the therapeutic role music plays in our lives. (If you don’t relate to this, then I’m sorry.)

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This series of mixtape paintings has been really fun. Get one before my attention drifts and I go back to painting ugly things.

“Music Heals” listing on Etsy. I can also make you a custom one if you hate the colors.

Now go! Enjoy your Sunday!

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Jul 202014
 

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You know how sometimes things just feel wrong from the moment you wake up? That’s how I felt Tuesday morning when I sprung (seriously) out of bed and did my IT’S WARPED TOUR, MOTHERFUCKAS feet-stomp on my bedroom floor. I felt so excited but also kind of disjointed, like something just wasn’t right. And on paper, it had all of the components of being the perfect day, because for the first time in years, the temperature was only going to be 79 degrees! Usually it’s almost 100 and we have sweat rolling down our backs before we even get through the gates.

My plan was to be out of the house by 8am so we could stop somewhere and have a real breakfast along the way, something better than the McDonald’s shit Henry usually plies me with on Warped Tour morn. I wanted pancakes or something, I don’t know. Something that would get me through the day.

But Henry ruined my plans as usual by being woefully unprepared so it was 9 by the time we pulled away from the house. Chooch was so tired that he brought a pillow from the couch and slept on it the whole way to First Niagra Pavilion, which is about 40 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, I guess. We hit all kinds of construction and had dumb Subway for breakfast which I didn’t want and then Henry got me HOT COFFEE from Starbucks instead of ICED COFFEE and the day was ALREADY RUINED, I COULD JUST TELL.

AND THEN, AFTER WAITING IN TRAFFIC FOR UNLIMITED MINUTES, HE PASSED UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE VENUE AND HAD TO TURN AROUND AND WAIT IN MORE TRAFFIC COMING FROM THE OTHER DIRECTION AND I WAS CRYING BY THEN.

But we finally parked, and gates still hadn’t opened yet so I was starting to calm down. Then Henry and Chooch had to go to guest services so Henry could get his complimentary Parent Ticket, so I stayed back and saved their spot in line. But then they never came back! They got in a different line! And Henry was texting me about how they walked past a camera crew that was potentially filming the next season of Warped Roadies and then he sent me a picture of Warped founder KEVIN LYMAN who happened to be standing near them and I was like “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO MURDER MY FEELINGS!?”

But standing in that line alone for 40 minutes was about to prepare me for the rest of the day….so, thanks?

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The best part, though, was that my line moved faster and I got inside way before they did. If you’ve never been to Warped Tour, the one thing you need to know is that the very first thing you’re going to want to do is run to the Inflatable, which has the day’s schedule on display. You can also buy a paper schedule for $2, which we always do, but the Inflatable will tell me much faster which bands are playing like RIGHTNOW which is important because shit starts as soon as those gates open. The one band I was looking for, The Marmozets, wasn’t listed on either the Inflatable or the paper schedule and I was like WHAT. #WarpedTourProblems.

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I met up with Chooch and Henry in time to take Chooch’s picture with the Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! panda. (Pretty good band, too, if you’re into French pop punk and Goonies references.)

(Which I am, so…)

(And true to form, this was the second time in a row that I missed their goddamn set because of scheduling conflicts. #WARPEDTOURPROBLEMS.)

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One of the smartest things bands do before the gates open is send someone around all of the lines with a sign that has what stage they’re playing on and when. That’s how I knew without even needing to consult with the Inflatable that To the Wind was playing at 11:15. I excitedly texted my friend Terri to tell her, because she likes them too and I told her I would report back.

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I mean, if my WRONG COFFEE hadn’t already woken me up, I could have for sure counted on To the Wind’s set to have me thoroughly caffeinated. Nothing better some gritty hardcore for breakfast.

This was around the time that we started to realize Chooch wasn’t just tired, but possibly ill. He started out standing during To the Wind’s set, but then ended up sitting down Indian-style, right next to a bunch of guys who were hardcore dancing so I had to be Chooch’s human barricade. I thought he was just being a lazy jerk at first, but then as we were walking to another stage, he was like, “My head, throat and stomach hurt really bad” and I’m no nurse, but I was able to piece those clues together and hypothesize that perhaps my son was sick.

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Weird, hunched-over gait. Not asking for every single shirt he saw in Merch Alley. Only taking a few timid licks of an ice cream cone and refusing pizza, chicken strips and a cheeseburger. Yep, my kid was sick.

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I at least got him to take one selfie with me, but this was during the first hour and he hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle of his plague. Henry was actually going to just take him home and then come back that night to get me, but then we saw that the Summer Set was doing a meet and greet later than afternoon and asked Chooch if he wanted to do it. That sprung him to life a little bit, so we bought a Summer Set shirt and got a skip the line ticket. Then Henry took Chooch to the hillside and let him sleep under the shade of the trees while I ran off and did my own shit.

This was Henry’s view while he sat next to Sleeping Chooch:

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I really wish Henry would take some fashion risks like that. But NO: non-descript t-shirts until the motherfucking day he dies.

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Obligatory Warped Tour photo of me being blissed-out and Henry hating his life.

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I miss this scene already.

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A lot of the bands I follow on Instagram were like SERIOUSLY, CHECK OUT K. FLAY AT WARPED TOUR! so I did and she was alright. Kind of like if God changed his mind and made it possible for two men to conceive a child together and Mike Posner and Bizzie Bone decided to give it a whirl and next thing you know, we’re welcoming K. Flay into the world. She had a very laid-back California hip hop vibe going on and it was mildly entertaining, but not enough that I was like, “HOLY SHIT I MUST BUY HER SHIT RIGHT NOW.” Still, it’s always cool to see a girl killing it on any stage at Warped Tour.

Speaking of, some low-tier music journalist wrote a piece about how Kevin Lyman hates women because he doesn’t have enough female bands at Warped Tour and usually I’m all for girl power, but I had to strongly disagree with her in this case. I don’t go to shows based on the gender of bands. I go based on if they sound good or not. Kevin Lyman should definitely NOT pick female bands just for the sake of meeting some imaginary, unspoken quota. Um, remember when he had Katy Perry there in 2008? God, that was just terrible.

The bottom-line is that this is just a male-dominated scene. Not on purpose. I just think that there aren’t a ton of girls who get into playing music and decide that they want to be in a hardcore or metalcore band, and that’s the genre that makes up most of Warped Tour. I think Kevin does a good job seeking out girl bands that he feels sound good and fit the criteria. It’s not his fault that there aren’t a ton to choose from.

In all the years I’ve been going to Warped Tour, the lack of girl bands has never crossed my mind.

THAT BEING SAID, I was really looking forward to seeing the Marmozets, which my pal Jason described to me as “Hayley Williams fronting Dillinger Escape Plan.” I’ve had hearts in my eyes ever since. Anyway, Jason told me yesterday that the Marmozets missed two weeks of Warped Tour because of goddamn Visa issues, so it wasn’t that they were playing on some invisible stage that I couldn’t find; they just weren’t there at all. Super sigh. Another day, Marmozets. #WarpedTourProblems

At one point, I came back from my rounds (which included having one of the YOUNG boys at the Clean Water refill station flirt with me, yessss) to find Henry and Chooch in this state:

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That’s how we knew Chooch was definitely sick-sick: he kept saying he couldn’t feel the heat of the sun even though it was beating down on him. He had goosebumps, even. But every time he saw me, he would murmur, “Where’s my Summer Set shirt!?” and I would say, “In my bag” and then he would go back to sleep. He really did get a lot of rest there. I didn’t drag him around and make him do shit.

Surprisingly.

Soon, it was almost 2pm and I was faced with a terribly difficult decision: SAVES THE DAY OR BEARTOOTH?!?! UGHHH! In the end, I went with Beartooth only because I’ve seen Saves the Day before (god, I love them so much though, and it would have been nice to hear some stuff from their most recent album, UGH #WarpedTourProblems). Turns out though choosing Beartooth was life-changing. No, I’m not being melodramatic. Their set honestly breathed life into me.

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Typically, I will stand off to the side because I’m “old,” scared of getting hurt, and Henry is usually with me and we all know Henry ain’t going in no motherfucking pit y’all. But this time I was alone. So I pushed my way further into the crowd, forgetting for the moment that I absolutely hate touching other people, and next thing I knew, I was getting pushed further and further into the pit and it was just what I fucking needed. Not that I generally feel like an old person, but something clicked during Beartooth and I felt like myself. Like the person I used to be a really long time ago before shitty Real Life changed me. I didn’t care what I looked like or who was looking at me or if I looked like a mom or if I was going to get hurt or if I was going to hurt someone. I just went in there and raged and even fought the urge to apologize when I jumped on someone’s foot and then I got to shove someone in a hammerhead shark costume and it was like a fucking awakening, like my own personal version of Cocoon and Caleb Shomo was my Steve Guttenberg. When he screamed, “You guys paid to come to Warped Tour, and it’s up to you to make the most of it, so get the fuck up!” I screamed myself hoarse, because FUCK YES I WANT THIS TO STILL BE THE BEST DAY EVER! Yes, there were some roadblocks, poor Chooch was sick, there weren’t any of my favorite bands there, but goddammit: IT WAS STILL WARPED TOUR. And that was all I needed to have my day saved.

It also didn’t hurt when Davey from Vanna come out to guest-scream. God, he’s fucking hot. Basically, I walked away from that stage wanting 57 different Beartooth tattoos and a membership to their fan club. Do bands still have fan clubs, or am I REALLY being a 35-year-old right now?

Soon after, it was time for me to collect Henry and Chooch so we could get in line for the Summer Set meet and greet, which was a huge cluster and Henry was having a hard time holding himself back from assaulting the throng of fangirls who kept encroaching on us.

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I missed Every Time I Die while waiting in this never-ending line with Chooch, so next time he tries to say I’m a horrible mom, I’ll be sure to throw this back in his face. I DID THIS FOR YOU, SON. #WarpedTourProblems

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Chooch was able to muster enough energy to stand up and smile with the Summer Set. He adores them so much and knows all the words to their songs. They’re not really my cup of tea, but at the same time, I don’t mind when he puts them on. It could be way worse, you guys. They really pushed people through as fast as possible: you’d get to the front, give some dude your phone, pose, then split. It was like a factory line, but trust me: I’ve seen how long these lines get and they have to do what they can to keep things in control, so it wasn’t like it was overtly rude or anything. However, when it was Chooch’s turn, he went to walk away after the picture was taken, but they called him back over and each one gave him a high-five. I thought that was super sweet, so it made me like them a lot more and I didn’t groan or act put-out when we had to watch their set later. (It was actually pretty fun.)

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But first I had to go see my favorites in Of Mice & Men! They were a last minute addition to the Warped roster and I was really happy because they’re always so good.

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Here’s an accidental video I took of some dude’s underwear, which I found on my phone the day after and couldn’t stop laughing, so I showed Chooch and he was like “I MISSED OF MICE & MEN?! UGH!” :(

They have played my favorite song by them—”Second & Sebring”—every single time I’ve seen them, but not this time. I was like, “WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING THAT’S IT YOU’RE DONE!?” when they played their last song and said goodbye. *WarpedTourProblems

Chooch was able to hang on long enough to watch The Summer Set, but the poor kid had to sit down in the parking lot through the whole thing.

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The struggle is real. #WarpedTourProblems

Here are two different angles of Henry hating his life:

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Even though he was feeling like shit, his little lips still moved along to all of the words, and at the beginning of each song, he would look up at me and tell me what song it was. He was especially rejuvenated when they played “Fuck You Over” because OMG a song that enables him to swear freely. We left after their set, around 6:00, which sucked but he wasn’t getting any better. I was torn between Mom and Teenager: I wanted to leave so my kid could get better rest, but the spoiled teenaged brat side of me was like, “I’M NOT DONE HERE!” In all honesty, there was really only one more band that I really wanted to see, so it wasn’t that big of a sacrifice.

The next day, Chooch (feeling much better) was looking at the schedule and lamenting over all the bands we missed. “We missed Crown the Empire!” he cried. If he wasn’t my precious kid, I would have been like, “YEAH AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!” like when Christina’s sister made us leave early in 2007 and I wasn’t done yet and I still complain it 7 years later, clearly. But instead I just felt super bad for him because he really honestly wanted to see some of the bands there. Of all days to get sick.

“I felt so much better during Summer Set,” Chooch said with melancholy. “My throat stopped hurting and everything. But then when they were done, my throat started to hurt again and I wanted to leave.”

And then he asked, “What was that first band we saw?”

“To the Wind,” I replied. “You hated them, didn’t you?”

“No!” Chooch yelled incredulously. “I was really enjoying them! I just had to sit down because my legs were hurting. BECAUSE I WAS SICK.” We’re going to be hearing about that for quite some time, I think. But then we started talking about how one of the guys in To the Wind has a prosthetic leg, so that distracted him from filing his emancipation paperwork.

Chooch wore his Summer Set shirt for the next two days until I finally made him change because have you seen how heavily my kid sweats? Also, I love that he’s not deterred by a shirt with flowers on it.

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I still have post-Warped Tour sadness, even though it didn’t go off without a hitch, it was still my Christmas in July and I made sure it was a beautiful day. Like Beartooth preached: Warped Tour is all in what you make of it. I could have sat around and pouted, but I didn’t. I waited all year for that day and fucking hell, I was going to make the most of it. Besides, I know that next year will be better. So let the countdown begin!

(This was probably the best Warped Tour Henry has ever been to because he literally got to sit the whole time and not have his dumb beard bristled by banshee-like bands.)

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Jul 022014
 

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It might seem weird since I’m a vegetarian and all, but what I was most looking forward to in Frankenmuth was eating at one of their famous Bavarian chicken joints. There are two to choose from: Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s, and they supposedly HATE each other. My friend Michelle told me that the two families basically built Frankenmuth so no matter which place we picked, it would be a big deal.

I mean, if you’re like me and give a shit about these things.

Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn really are right across from the street from each other, but there were no picketers or chicken dinner sabotage that I could see. No one was egging each other’s windows or passing out derogatory flyers. But since Roadside America mentions their rivalry, I know it must be true. I just wish it was more blatant and spectator sporty.

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I personally wanted to eat at Bavarian Inn, because it just had more of a Black Forest aesthetic to me, but Bill kept piping up with the merits of Zehnder’s, which just looked like some dumb colonial slab and not at all lederhosen-y. Turns out Bill might have eaten there once sometime in his liftetime and I think he forgot to tell us the part about how a Zehnder’s busboy saved him from choking on their world famous chicken dinner so now he feel indebted to them.

But then Jessi mentioned that she has eaten at the Bavarian Inn before and liked it, so PRAISE JESSI, we settled on the Bavarian Inn because girls rule! There was no blantant anti-Zehnder’s propaganda inside the doors of the BavInn (my new, sweet pet name for it), but I should have at least wrote “for loose bowels, call Zehnder’s” in one of the bathroom stalls. Ah, hindsight.

Fuck you, Zehnder’s.

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I want shutters like that on my imaginary never-house. 

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I anticipated a long wait, since this  seemed like the type of place that was like the Disneyworld of Old Country Buffets* for elderly tourists, but we had a table within 15 minutes!  And even had a scantily-clad Bavarian beefcake entertaining us with an accordion. (I mean, he was showing a lot of thigh and calf, but not a lot of below-knee, because that was covered with a modest swath of wool.)

*BavInn isn’t even a buffet so I have no idea why I wrote that, other than the fact that it’s 150 degrees in my house.

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I told Chooch that this place was going to be like the Hooter’s of Frankenmuth, with Bavarian boobs spilling out of corseted beer garden dresses. Partially because I was trying to get him stoked on eating there (he’s at that age, guys; boobs are everything), and also because that’s what it looked like in my hopes and dreams. Turns out the waitresses’ costumes were way more modest than the accordion player and his scandalous leg-skin.

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There was no cleavage to be had. Not even of the accidental variety.

Back to being a vegetarian: I was pleasantly surprised that the Bavarian Inn had an entire vegetarian menu! Bill said he only asked for it because he overheard someone in front of him asking for it. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to ask because places like that usually don’t cater to my kind and I was fully prepared to just get some side dishes but instead I got to have vegan chili and BY GEORGE it was fucking great. It had quinoa and perfect little cubes of sweet potatoes and was just a true delight my tongue even though I can’t imagine a real Bavarian eating that on their lunch break at the cuckoo clock factory.

It didn’t matter, because I still ordered a side of SPAETZEL. You guys, spaetzel. That is my ultimate comfort food because my Pappap, whose family was from Austria, made a huge pot of these buttery Alpine dumplings every Christmas and they were just spectacular. After he died, my mom tried to carry the torch but they just never tasted quite right. And then I asked Henry to make them one year for Thanksgiving but his came out really small and pathetic because he doesn’t have any of the good European regions in his genes, I guess. I  mean, I still ate them of course because anything coated in that much butter is still going to taste rad. But I just haven’t had any as good as my Pappap’s, not since 1995.

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And these noodleturds were by no means bad! Bavarian Inn has their shit together but these were just seasoned in a way that deviated from my Pappap’s spaetzel perfection. I still ate the ever-loving fuck out of them though. Why wouldn’t I?

Can we talk about our amazing waitress Kristi for a minute? Chooch spilled his lemonade all over the table so she swooped in and moved us to a clean table right next to us, all without making Chooch feel like a heel for being a normal 8-year-old who spills things in restaurants. And she brought us copious amounts of this delicious sweet bread (bread that’s sweet, not sweetbreads) which we enjoyed with ridiculously magical homemade strawberry jam. And our lunches were delayed so Kristi also brought us out bowls of German potato salad, coleslaw and something else that I forget now, but it was all perfect and made me want to book a Globus tour ASAP.

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Chooch was really anxious to sayeth Prayers from the Psalms before he ateth his chickeneth. (Everyone at the table got chicken, because duh—Bavarian Inn is world famous for that shit. Maybe one day they’ll be renown for their faux-chicken too. Now I wish I had ordered the fake chicken patty on pretzel bun. Oh well, there’s always next summer when we go back and stay at the Bavarian Inn, because yes, they have a huge resort-y hotel too. WITH WATERSLIDES.)

My second favorite part of the experience (hello: Spaetzel #1) was when I mused out loud about the comfort of the waitresses’ dresses and then a few minutes later, upon Kristi’s return to our table with more iced tea for Henry, Bill asked her what might have been the creepiest thing she had been asked by a man all day:

“Excuse me, but is your dress comfortable?” he asked casually, like he works for Cotton and it’s his job to determine a woman’s comfort as research for the next commercial featuring some random blond actress who can also kind of sing alright.

The Fabric of Our Lives: Dirndl Edition.

“You know,” she said after thinking about it for a few seconds, “it really isn’t too bad. It’s the nylons that drive me nuts, though. I can never wait to get home and peel them off, you know?” And Bill nodded knowingly.

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PSHHHHH. You wish, Zehnder’s. In your dreams.

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This is the back of the glorious Bavarian Inn. Surely there’s a nook or cranny somewhere in which I can live undetected.

You know I must have been stuffed full of spaetzel when I declined dessert, and they obviously had streudel, you guys. Motherfuck, do I love streudel. My grandma’s side of the family always made some sick streudel.

Streudel and spaetzel. These will be served at my pretend wedding. By Bavarian beer maidens, all named Gretchen.

Jesus, is it any wonder I’m a slut for Bavarian things? My childhood memories practically reek of edelweiss.

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Jun 262014
 

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I read some reviews online (because that’s what I do: read amusement park reviews all day long; I don’t have any friends to occupy my time, remember?) that complained about the employees were terrible. This was definitely not the case on my visit, because they clearly know I have a blog and want all of the glowing words written about them. I will say that I didn’t have a single run-in with surly orange-shirts all day. And I even left the park with two favorites: the dude from the Lost Coaster ride and this sweet Russian broad from the Hoosier Hurricane.

The Lost Coaster guy reminded me of the Salute Your Shorts camp counselor, Ug, in that he thought he was way cooler than he was and tried to act tough by yelling things like, “LIKE DON’T SIT ON THE RAILING!” But I guess he was still more intimidating than me because Chooch never listens when I tell him to get off the rail but when Ug hollered it, Chooch hopped off with a quickness.

I accidentally left my phone on the ride and realized it about 3 minutes afterward. When I ran back up the exit ramp to the ride platform, he was checking the next riders’ seat belts and casually holding my pink cell phone and it just made me crack up so bad.

“Hey, that’s my phone,” I said in faux-outrage and he put his hands up.

“I tried to chase you down but you were already gone!” he explained, handing it back over and we both had a good laugh. Why, I’m not sure. But I think I probably was definitely in the beginning stages of heat stroke by then so everything was funny to me except for things that Henry said/did/didn’t do because those things just made me inexplicably ANGRY.

OK, now let’s talk about the Russian. (I mean, after I type out hundreds of words that seem totally unrelated to a Russian broad, of course.)

A few days before we left for our road trip, Chooch acquired some sort of cut/scrape thing on the top of his ankle. Something about he went to kick a soccer ball, missed, tripped over it, bent his foot all the back and scraped it against the sidewalk. Then he proceeded to wear Converse high-tops, which ended up rubbing his scrape raw while forming a blister all at the same time.

So now he had a mutant cut/blister injury in addition to his foot hurting in general from being bent all the way back. He would be fine in the morning, but once he started walking too much, it would aggravate the wound and make his ankle get all red and slightly swollen.

The humidity that day, and also the OINTMENT (I love that people hate that word) that Henry slathered on the wound, made Chooch’s ankle too MOIST (hahaha) for Band-Aids to stay adhered for very long. So when were walking up the metal-grated steps of the Hoosier Hurricane coaster, Chooch forgot how to walk and fell, banging his ankle against the metal edge of the step below him, knocking off the Band-Aid and making him wince in pain.

Henry wasn’t with us, since he wasn’t RIDING anything that day, so I had to try to be a mom and tell Chooch things like, “It’s probably going to be fine” and “You’ll probably still have a foot after all of this is over” and “PLEASE START WALKING, I REALLY WANT TO GO ON THIS ROLLER COASTER.” As soon as we made it into the station, a super sweet Russian girl took down the chain for us and said to Chooch, “Oh no! What is happened to you?” But Chooch was still blinking back tears so I had to do my best to make it look like I hadn’t abused my child.

“There is first aid down there,” she said, pointing over her shoulder. She was really concerned about Chooch’s ankle, which was really endearing. But then we got stuck standing awkwardly next to her while we waited for the coaster to come back, so she made broken-English small talk about the weather.

“It is hot,” she said in a staccato.

“Yeah,” I agreed, struggling for words. And then after a stretch of about 30 million acres of silence, I thought of something else to say. “That, uh, humidity makes it worse.”

“Oh yah! The humidity is worst!” she agreed, and I thanked the arrival of the coaster for interrupting our cliche weather discourse.

She made sure Chooch and I were safely buckled into our seats and then said, “Enjoy ride!” and I secretly hoped it was meant just for us and not any of the other sweaty bastards behind us.

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After we got off the ride, Chooch ran ahead of Henry and me because he knows everything, including the way to the first aid trailer. Eight-year-olds don’t need parents, you guys. By the time we caught up and walked into the first aid trailer, Chooch and the park medic were just sitting there silently, Chooch on the edge of the bed and the medic at his desk.

“He just came in and sat down,” the medic explained. “Said he was waiting for some people.”

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And then Chooch relayed the entire, sordid saga of the Origin of the Wound.

He loves to talk about it. Last night, as soon as we got to his piano lesson, he sighed and mumbled something about his foot hurting. (Side note: that fucker is pretty much healed by now, so I guess he’s experiencing fantasy pains similar to Henry’s imaginary war wounds that don’t exist because Henry was never in an actual war when he was in the SERVICE.) “Oh no, what did you do to it?” his piano teacher Cheryl asked.

“Ugh, why does everyone ask me about it?” Chooch cried and I was like, “OH OK, MY LEFT FOOT, MAYBE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T STOP BRINGING IT UP.”

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Here’s Henry re-doing Chooch’s Band-Aid 3 minutes later.

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There was another Russian girl working the Cornball Express, another roller coaster, but she wasn’t as nice. I mean, she wasn’t a dick head or anything, but she didn’t go out of her way to smother us with attention like Hoosier Hurricane did. The other Cornball Express girl routinely helped me unbuckle my seatbelt all 137 times we rode that coaster (honestly, there were no lines to wait in). Chooch, who had quickly mastered the secret of the Houdini-approved seatbelts, kept crying out, “Oh for Christ’s sake, mommy!” Before eventually just not waiting for me anymore.

I seriously have never struggled so hard with a seatbelt in my life. It was almost embarrassing. Ok it was embarrassing.

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After hours of stalking Frankenstein’s Castle, those fucking garage doors were finally a’lift and we had the confusing task of trying to add dolla dolla bills to the Indiana Beach cash card thing. I forget to mention that this is one of those amusement parks where, if you don’t want to plan on riding much, you can load money onto credit cards and then scan it before you get on the rides. Even the ride-all-day wristbands have barcodes on them and everyone is required to stick their wrist under a scanner at the front of all of the lines. Waldameer Park in Erie does this, too. It’s annoying, but whatever.

Anyway, Frank’s Place wasn’t included in the ride-all-day admission price. Some dark rides are like that and while I’m not exactly sure of the reason (Chris? Can you help here?), I have a few theories, mostly that it’s a restoration thing. It was an additional $3.50 per person and BE STILL MY HEART, Henry actually paid for THREE. At first, I thought maybe there was some sad albino kid in line behind us, tugging on Henry’s bland heart strings and making him do charitable thangs. (I didn’t want to end on a rhyme. You understand.)

But no, he was paying for himself! Henry was finally going to not sit on a bench with his nose pressed against his phone, looking at Pinterest! (Honestly, Chooch and I made fun of him from every line in which we stood. Because why not.)

As soon as the ticket booth broad granted us admission, our nostrils were slammed with the unmistakable vintage bouquet of moth balls and Aunt Edith’s cedar closet of muumuus. It’s a smell that I love because it means old school amusement park. Fuck those flashy sterile, steel concrete jungles known as Six Flags.

I want that fancy dark ride musk.

If they bottled it as perfume/cologne, that’d be a surefire way to get me into your backseat.

(Oh come on, don’t pretend like you thought I was classy.)

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“I just paid $3.50 to walk through a fake castle with two screaming d-bags. I bet that taco would have also cost $3.50 and have been way less annoying.” – Henry, if he ever thought about anything.

After sitting on a bench and listening to a crackling recording about what scares we were about to encounter, a disinterested young Indiana Beach employee opened a door and ushered us in for the “OMG crashing elevator” segment. At first I thought this was going to be totally lame, and that part was, but then she opened another door and set us free, on our own, to shuffle through the guts of a mostly pitch-black haunted house.

Here is Henry’s review:

It was fun. I got pushed through by two scared little people. That’s about it.

Wow. Titillating as always.

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There were no scare actors, just the effective non-use of light bulbs, enclosed animatronic displays that managed to pop on when I was always the most unsuspecting, moving floors and enough enclosed spaces to make a claustrophobe fake their way through the rosary.

THIS IS A CLASSIC DARK ATTRACTION. One that keeps it real and doesn’t rely on modern, high-tech scare tactics. Let me put it this way: there are chicken doors located throughout the length of the castle and if Henry hadn’t gone in with us, I guarantee the first one would have a chunk taken out of it in the exact outline of my body.

This is the type of haunt you want to walk through with the person you’re obsessively crushing on or maybe the hipster you just met IRL on Tinder and want to terrorize in the dark with rusty hedge clippers while wearing your mom’s skin on your face. Butterflies!

I’d go back to Indiana Beach every summer just for another 10 minutes inside Frankenstein.

YEAH, YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

*****

Overall, I would rate Indiana Beach 3/5. The coasters and dark rides were its main redeeming qualities. I didn’t like how it took so long for a lot of the rides to open, instead of just opening everything when the park itself opened. And I also didn’t like the actual park grounds. The layout was weird, sloppy like the parks I used to create on Roller Coaster Tycoon because I apparently lack aesthetic. I’m not saying I expect every park to be Disney-levels of beautiful, but I don’t know, maybe try planting some more flowers or something.

We didn’t eat enough of the food for this to be a factor in my rating, although they had something called Redneck Biscuits which sounded hideous but I still wanted to eat one and Henry wouldn’t buy me one because NO TACO.

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Jun 242014
 

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My criteria for planning a road trip is pretty simple:

  • Are there friends along the way that I can impose upon?
  • Does my Roadside America app approve of this route?
  • Are there amusement parks in the vicinity?

I’ve wanted to go to Indiana Beach (fun fact: not actually a beach) for awhile now, and it seemed logical to combine this with a long overdue visit to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy and also meet up with some other ladies I have been Internet friends with for YEARS. (More on that later!)

We had to drive through actual farmlands to get to Monticello, Indiana, at which point a man of about 100 years of age collected $7 from us and told us where to park.

Which was “anywhere in the wide open, empty parking lot.”

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We got there right when the park opened, and not only was it a ghost town, but none of the rides were running. We roamed around for awhile, getting turned away from the Hoosier Hurricane and wasting time at the shooting gallery. Also, the humidity was so bad that it felt like Hell with the lid on. My face took on the sebaceous sheen of a glazed Christmas ham in no time. It was disgusting. But not so disgusting that I would consider visiting the dilapidated water park portion of Indiana Beach, which was included in regular admission because the lazy river wasn’t running. God only knows why not.

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No thanks, dirty pastel water slides. God only knows what kind of fungi you’re getting ready to launch into my vagina. (I have phobias, OK?)

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Chooch killed some time at the shooting gallery, while I paced around, waiting for the adjacent Frankenstein’s Castle to open their dumb doors already. I refuse to partake in the shooting galleries at amusement parks because HENRY won’t teach me how to aim. So I almost never hit anything. And then I pout, which morphs into an inevitable Hulk Rage later on.

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Fuck you, Henry.

Lame Henry didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband because he’s too old to have fun at amusement parks now. But he sure does enjoy the ones with free general admission so that he can walk around and complain for nothing. I promise you, we broke up at least 87 times that day.

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The main (OK, the only) reason Indiana Beach made my list is their staggering collection of THREE dark rides. Two of them, The Den of Lost Thieves and the most-anticipated House of Frankenstein were basically the last rides to open that day. But oh, were they worth the wait.

The Den of Lost Thieves is a shooting ride, which I generally do not enjoy. Kennywood took out a great dark ride, the Goldrusher, and replaced it with a modern shooter-type dark ride and the only thing remarkable about it is how incredibly boring it is. I would gladly bypass this one every time we visit Kennywood, but Chooch always drags me on it. I hate waiting in line for it too! You wait and wait and wait only to get put in this holding room, like a foyer, where they force you to watch some animated portrait on a wall telling you the story of Ghostwood Estate and then the door opens and it’s a fucking free-for-all. Everyone pushes their way through so even if you were the first one in line before entering that room, chances are you’ll take a fanny pack to the groin and wind up 17 people back.

So when I realized that the Den of Lost Thieves was also a shooting ride, I was like, “Damn, we drive 8 hours for this?” But it turned out to be FANTASTIC! Old, musty and full of old-school scares. I loved the shit out of this ride. Especially since I got more points than Chooch.

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Another dark ride in the park doubled as a coaster! It was called the Lost Coaster of Something I Forget Who Knows. There was no one in line when Chooch and I walked past, so I shoved all of my belongings into Henry’s chest and bolted for it.

“Um…it’s gonna take a few minutes,” the older, orange-shirted ride operator said. “It got stuck, and I’m waiting for someone to push it back out.” Oh OK, no big deal, you guys. Rides get stuck like all of the time, right? And probably not back-to-back times, right?

He said something about the cars not being “properly weighted” and I was like, “Oh well if you’re looking for all of the weight, you’ve come to the right thunder thighs.” Four more people joined us right as a mechanic came grunting out of the fake cave, pushing the double mine cars in front of him.

The ride operator seemed confident that we had enough bodies to successfully propel the mine cars from start to finish, so we loaded up with me and Chooch and some lady and little girl in one car, and a guy and kid in the one behind us.

Awkward thing about this ride: four people fit in a car, but the seats face each other, so unless you’re with three of your homies, you get to stare at strangers for the next two minutes and I hate that you guys. Looking at people who are looking at me, it’s just…ew. Not for me.

This ride was pretty thrilling and volatile, just like a relationship with me! All of the ups and downs and whiplash and violent shoves. Will you need a PFA? Maybe! And then…nothing. It just stopped, right in the middle of the dark cave.

“Is it supposed to do this?” I asked the people in the car with us.

“I DON’T THINK SO BUT THE STEEL HAWG GETS STUCK ALL THE TIME,” answered the little girl in an octave only little girls can manage.

****Mental note to be wary of the Steel Hawg. (Which never opened that day anyway, so moot point.)

Anyway, guess what guys? We were stuck! I think this may have been my first time ever getting stuck on a ride, too, so thanks Indiana Beach! That’s a cherry I sure needed popped.

As if it wasn’t hot enough that day, now we were stuck inside some muggy faux-cavern, in a near-enclosed car, with no rescue in sight. I had sweat rolling into my eyes and mouth, I could feel it dripping from the backs of my knees, my whole person was slick with the moist essence of PANIC.

And I had these strangers staring at me and I had nothing to say other than nervous laughter and then the kid in the car behind us started to cry and his dad was mouthing off about how this was such BULLshit and Chooch kept meowing and I was like, “WHY IS NO ONE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH US OVER AN INTERCOM OR MORSE CODE OR CROP CIRCLE?!” And then finally, after a good FIVE MINUTES OF NOTHING, that same disgruntled mechanic came trudging up the track behind us, shouted an answer to a garbled voice over his walkie talkie, fumbled with some switches in the breaker box next to us, and then said “Enjoy your ride” just as the motor kicked in and we went STRAIGHT DOWN A HILL. Oh that’s right, we were stuck on the zenith of a hill and had no idea because it was so dark in there. So…that was definitely a thrill.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been dreaming of buying a taco all day. That’s what he’s thinking about in this picture, as a matter of fact. Indiana Beach has a taco stand that was apparently featured on the Food Network for some reason. I love me a good taco, but I knew that Indiana Beach was for sure not going to have a meatless option. So Chooch and I decided to get pizza and then Henry was going to get his coveted taco afterward.

Except that Chooch only ate one slice of his personal pizza and Henry acted like a motherfucking martyr and ate the rest of it. Like, who cares? Sometimes I think he does this shit on purpose, like he’s some Leftover Scraps Hero. OK, you ate three small slices of crappy pizza, good for you.

Oh, you ate the rest of Chooch’s waffle for breakfast? Well, FUCK Henry. Thanks for taking one for the team. Shit.

I knew all of his moaning and groaning over this would eventually paint a bigger picture, and I was right: Now that he had eaten Chooch’s pizza, he was “too full” to get a taco, and that was ALL THAT HE WANTED, you guys. A fucking taco, but now Chooch and I had ruined his life by having the audacity to get pizza for our own lunches. Last time I checked, no one was forcing pizza down Henry’s enlarged hatch.

I kept coaxing him to get a taco, but he was being such a bitch about it. He was acting offended almost, like he was on a porn diet and I was trying to get him to succumb to peer pressure by showing photos of naked broads going to town on tacos.

So bizarre. Maybe he’s trying to fit back into his SERVICE costume?

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Wistful thoughts over the taco stain on his shirt that could have been.

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Dreaming of brushing a taco with his moustache bristles to the tune of a Selena song.

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He had his chance right here! Going, going….

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Gone. This was right after he said, “I DON’T WANT ONE NOW. JUST FORGET IT.” Oh wow, someone’s come down with a case of the Erins.

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Imagining a lake where all the sailboats are tacos and he’s a great, venerable taco sailor.

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Not buying a taco.

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Yeah Henry. Don’t forget. Bitchbaby motherfucker.

(I think Mexico might find it hard to believe that the world’s best tacos are in Indiana.)

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Jun 232014
 

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OMG one of my favorite parts of our road trip was when we got to drive through the boarded-up hole where Henry used to live while he was in the SERVICE OMG CAN YOU STAND IT.

I wondered out loud if perhaps Henry had grown children running around Bunker Hill, but he assured me that was impossible, which means that Henry didn’t have sex for like THREE YEARS from 1984-1987.

I was in elementary school then, roller skating and being awesome.

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Henry is sitting next to me right now, against his will, and I’m asking him for information to include with these pictures since he has refused to write anything on his own because he hates thinking of the years of his life that didn’t include me.

Obviously.

He was an aircraft CREW CHIEF. Whatever that means.

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Here is a street that Henry may have walked on! He probably at least drove on it in his GREEN GRAND PRIX. (He just corrected me and said it was blue but last night he told me it was green. Now he’s saying he had both. God, brag much?) He doesn’t recall Brown’s Game Room being there when he lived there in the EIGHTIES. I asked him if there were any whore houses there and he got really impatient and said, “Not in BUNKER HILL. Those were in KOKOMO.” Oh. Sorry.

Henry never want to Indiana Beach while he lived there because he didn’t know it existed. He did, however, go to the fair. Once. He can’t remember if he rode anything, but he knows for certain he didn’t kiss any girls there because kissing leads to SEX and he wasn’t having that in Bunker Hill. That would have ruined his reputation as the Base Eunuch.

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This is the neighborhood where Henry’s trailer was but he claims the trailer isn’t there anymore, but he wouldn’t drive back to where it used to be so I couldn’t get any pictures of the empty pit that remains. He wouldn’t even get out of the car while I was taking these pictures. (Admittedly, there wasn’t much there to photograph and I didn’t want anyone to come running out of their home, spitting Skoal at me, so I was pretty quick to wrap this up.)

Also, Henry has no pictures of his trailer, because he wasn’t in the habit of taking pictures of his non-descript living quarters. He had a variety of roommates, including Les, Tim (WHO HE IS FRIENDS WITH ON FACEBOOK! I’m going to message him soon), and John. He thinks John only lived there for a little while but he doesn’t remember because it’s hard to remember things that happened in the 80s, you guys. He claims that they never brought home any local women and this is just so weird to me. They had lots of porn on VHS though. He mumbled “no” when I asked him if they all watched it together, which means that he wanted them to all watch it together but they were like, “Ew get out of here, Eunuch.”

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HENRY HAS BEEN TO THIS BAR!!! Apparently, he mostly drank at the bar on BASE. What a snob. He told me that he used to drink LONG ISLAND ICED TEAS at the bar on base. You guys, Henry used to drink LONG ISLAND ICED TEAS. Now I know what I’m serving at his 50th birthday party next year, complete with cocktail parasols and fruit on swords. And obviously they will be served in mason jars with paper straws, as an homage to Henry’s Pinterest addiction.

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Henry made me get in the car after this for fear of the homeowners mistaking me for someone casing their house.

Henry used to cook his own food when he lived there and he just said, “I don’t understand why this is such a big deal to you, I cook my own food now, too.” Oh yeah. But for some reason, I keep imagining him in velour lounge pants and a wife-beater, stirring succotash on top of a hot plate. He just told me he cooked Thanksgiving dinner once!! For like 4 or 5 people, he doesn’t remember!

(I AM SO GIDDY AS I WRITE THIS! The notion of Henry having a life prior to me is hilarious and mythical to me all at once. I need to know all of it.)

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I was excited to talk about this picture but Henry yelled, “THAT IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT THING. THAT IS NOT EVEN BUNKER HILL. THAT IS TEXAS.” He didn’t do cool things like this in Indiana. Probably because he didn’t know how.

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This was when Henry first saw the thing and then realized it wasn’t the thing anymore. (You know, that base thing.) It’s a prison now! He said he doesn’t have many feelings about this since it was so long ago. There was a reunion last year that he didn’t attend. He said it was because all of the people who went were people who were there for like a million years and not an early-discharge pussy like himself. I asked him if he had one of those dishonorable discharges and he got really irritated so that means yes. Probably because he was a Eunuch. And back then, that was probably worse than being gay.

He’s laughing right now but it’s not the “I’m having a good time!” kind of laugh, but more of a “Can I please go to bed now because my sanity is starting to come out of my nose” kind of scary laugh.

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May 282014
 

In 2009, I wrote a blog post that I had no idea would become the most-viewed thing I had written. It was called “Jonny Craig is a Piece of Shit.” Back then, I thought I was the only one who had shitty experiences with him in person. But it is consistently viewed to this day, do you know why? Because “why is Jonny Craig an asshole?” is a popular search term. Occasionally, someone will leave a comment on that post, too. Most of those comments are from ex-fans who want to share their own horror stories with me, but there are also the scathing ones from rabid supporters, telling me I’m pathetic, that he doesn’t owe me anything as a fan, and that I’m clearly butt-hurt.

Look. I’ve only been butt-hurt once in my entire life, and that was when I lost my footing on a pile of pumpkins at Trax Farm and wound up sitting on a stem. True fucking story for all of you pumpkin porn fanatics out there.

Anyway, the catalyst of that post was meeting him for the second time during the Dance Gavin Dance/Emarosa Squash the Beef tour. He was standing behind me at the bar in Mr. Small’s and literally all I wanted to do was tell him how much I enjoyed Emarosa and what an impact their music had on me emotionally, how it stimulated my creativity (back then, I had based some of my paintings off their lyrics), and how interwoven it had become with my life. I wasn’t trying to sit on his lap (let’s face it, I’m too fat, much ugly for him anyway) or make him sign shit. I wasn’t trying to pull him away from his alcohol for a photo session. I just wanted to say nice things to him for < 30 seconds, God forbid. It took every ounce of courage I could muster just to even say hello to him, after years of allowing his voice to be the personification of my dysfunctional friendship with my ex-BFF Christina.

But he just stood there and stared at me, making it clear that I was boring the shit out of him, so I mumbled, “Enjoy your stay in Pittsburgh” and walked away with my head down. It was humiliating and I know that he was making fun of me as soon as I walked away.

Because that’s what douchebags do.

When you put so much stock in a person like that, raising them up on some shaky pedestal, creating images of them in your mind, and then the reality of their personality shatters everything you had built up, it’s devastating. Maybe that sounds pathetic, but music has always been how I have coped with things. It enhances all of the good times and softens the bad. So now when the singer of a band that had made me feel so good has single-handedly made me feel AWFUL, well, it was a little emotionally traumatic.

It’s amazing how we deify these underserving people in the name of fandom.

He sounded like shit that night too. Drunk, stumbling, forgetting lyrics. It was my friend Alisha’s first time seeing Emarosa and her succinct review was: “They’re terrible!”

No, Jonny Craig is terrible.

I vowed to be done with him after that, and I was doing well until Emarosa released their next album in 2010 and I couldn’t resist. I still hated him. But I felt if I could separate my personal feelings for him from the music, I would be fine. Besides, wasn’t that what all of my detractors were telling me to do in certain harsh terms on my blog?

The problem is that as soon as I hear his dumb voice, I melt. It has nothing to do with him. I forget what a douchebag he is and all I can remember is how good it feels to be that into music. And it somehow kept me psychically connected to Christina, even when we were no longer speaking. It always goes back to that anyway.

Meanwhile, Henry was totally annoyed. He doesn’t get the whole “OMG JONNY CRAIG SINGS LIKE AN ANGEL!” argument, and it drove him nuts how I would turn into a 30-year-old fan girl at the mere mention of his stupid name. You know how I have pretty much based this entire blog on hassling Henry, right? I mean, unless this is your first time reading it. So if he hates Jonny Craig, then I am going to FUCKING BE OBSESSED with Jonny Craig.

My obsession can be broken down like this:

5% immaturity // 10% mental illness // 10% sincere love of his voice // 75% desire to drive Henry into an early grave.

(I triple-checked to make sure that added up, btw.)

And let’s face it: I thrive on being obnoxious.

I ran with it. Jonny Craig became my shtick. I made a Jonny Craig Christmas tree topper. I had my friend Maya make me a Jonny Craig doll. I hung up pictures of him around my office at work (if you go to the Law Firm and start questioning people on my floor who Jonny Craig is and they don’t know, then obviously I must never talk to that person, ever). This whole time, it was helping me cope with issues that Christina had left me with. I know, some people would just get therapy. But I’ll just sit over here and hug my Jonny Craig doll. Because projection is normal. Right?

The MacBook scam happened. The detox. The rehab. I was prepared for this to be the end of the Jonny Craig story, but then he started dating a girl who seemed to really change him, or at least, she was trying. And the crazy part was that she didn’t seem like a basic groupie. She seemed pretty intelligent, which one might argue about since she got involved with JC in the first place, but love is blind, you guys. I’m with Henry, aren’t I? Of course, I had to keep up my Crazy Jonny Craig Fangirl Persona and act like a nutcase when they got engaged (I think I might have even referred to her as Jonny’s penis-cozy in one of my faux-fits, what the fuck is wrong with me), but really–I hoped that she would save him.

Because as much of a loose cannon as he is, he really is a bright spot in a scene overflowing with generic, formulaic background noise.

All of these things I was willing to overlook because the music meant that much to me. I was so excited when Henry reluctantly agreed to drive five hours to Allentown last weekend so that I could see Jonny’s new band, Slaves. But then when I was going through his twitter feed to get screen shots of the nasty things he was saying about Emarosa (I wanted to have those as visual aids for my Emarosa blog post; can you stand how thorough I am?), I ended up seeing some terrible things.

Really awful things.

Jonny and his fiancée are currently going through a messy breakup, and he had a tweet that said if he saw her being raped, he wouldn’t stop to help.

He had another tweet saying that he never beat her when they were together but now he wishes he had. He deleted the original tweet but his retweet of this smart girl’s response still existed on Twitter:

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This asshole seriously needs to have someone monitoring his social media accounts. Like, I don’t know, maybe his MOTHER?

“Really fucking nice guy, Erin,” Henry spat when I showed him.

(Even worse is that these asinine girls were tweeting things like, “Jonny Craig could have his hands around my neck and I would still love him.” Which of course he was retweeting because these are the things that make King Shit’s ego swell. Keep encouraging him, girls. Make your mamas proud.)

At this point, it was too late. We had already bought the tickets. Rented the car. Booked the hotel room. Whether we went to this show in Allentown or not, I had already inadvertently supported a misogynistic douchepig and it made me sick to my stomach. So sick that I had a mild panic attack standing outside of the venue that night and we almost didn’t go in. Henry had to take me back to the car so I could calm down.

Look, I don’t know his ex-fiancée, but as a woman, I can’t stand for shit like that and I will automatically have her back. This is the reason men run the fucking world, because they say shit like this and no one does anything. They’ll have tons of men cheering them on in between disgusting chugs of beer, wiping Hooters wing sauce off their lips with their unwashed football jerseys of rapist athletes.

There could be actual video footage of Jonny Craig beating a woman, and he will still have fans. I mean, Chris Brown still gets played on the radio, doesn’t he?

“I just feel like if I see him, I’m going to fucking punch him!” I kept saying over and over. I was so disgusted. I kind of wished that I had worn my Emarosa t-shirt, like I had joked about last week. I brought it with me and at the last minute, Henry agreed it was a bad idea because it wouldn’t be Jonny who noticed, it would be his legion of scantily-clad side broad hopefuls and I wasn’t trying to get clawed at by their nasty acrylics. Talk about a petri dish of I Don’t Wanna Know.

We went inside. I scowled at all of the meatheads in their Jonny Craig is My Homeboy shirts. I cringed at all the girls wearing barely nothing, knowing exactly why they left 89% of their clothes at home. I suddenly felt so protective of all these little girls.

Slaves took the stage and as expected, the crowd went nuts for Jonny. But for the first time ever, I felt nothing. I just stood there with my arms crossed, refusing to clap, refusing to do a single thing Jonny demanded. And then he dedicated the last song to his ex, Amanda. “Til death do us part, bitch!” he spat and everyone was like “Yay!” because that’s cool, right?

I looked at Henry and my eyes started to well up. I felt like such a traitor to women everywhere just by being there.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I said to Henry afterward. “I can’t keep supporting this asshole.” And I think that was the happiest I have ever seen Henry in the thirteen years we’ve been together.

Meanwhile, King Shit was standing a few feet away from us, going through the motions of showing his fans what a “changed person” he is by posing for pictures with them. Two moms (like, I know I’m a mom, but these were MOMS wearing mom jeans with their mom purses slung across their mom boobs) ran over to him, took his picture, and then ran back giggling to show their respective daughters, who didn’t look more than 15-years-old. The daughters predictably squealed and were dragged back over to him by their moms.

“I guess these old broads don’t know he loves demoralizing under-aged scene girls,” I yelled to Henry. Oh, it was sickening to watch. And then afterward, I saw someone’s picture with him on Instagram and the caption said something about how Jonny was rushing everyone along because there was “quite a horde” of fans waiting. I didn’t know “roughly fifteen people” constituted a “horde,” but OK.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve always looked at fans of Ronnie Radke and wondered, “How could these kids love a guy who is such an asshole?” And duh, hello. Look at me. Blindly supporting a dreg of society since 2008.

More than anything, I feel like I owe it to my 8-year-old son to wash my hands of this guy. What kind of an example would I be setting for him if not? He already knows the guy is a drug addict (but the piss test! it was clean! blah blah!) and just a flat out mean person, but I definitely don’t want him to think that it’s OK to make those kinds of violent comments about women, publicly no less, and still have girls falling over you. “Hey, this guy acts like a douchebag and my mom loves him, so…..”

So maybe, if you’re a Jonny Craig avenger reading this, some girl with low self-esteem anxiously awaiting your chance with him, some bro who thinks it’s cool to treat people like dirt, then you might think this is a lame reason to throw in the towel. And that’s fine. Because one person writing a blog post like this is not in any way going to hurt his career, don’t worry JC afficionados. But I have too much respect for myself and at the end of the day, it’s all about girl power. I won’t stand for comments glorifying domestic violence, whether they were empty threats or not—-doesn’t matter. This guy clearly needs help, and I wish his new bandmembers luck with all of the future statements they’re going to need to release, swearing that their singer “has changed” and “is clean.” Seriously, good luck with that, and I hope he doesn’t destroy your careers.

I think I’m going to tell my kid, when in doubt, to ask himself “What would Jonny Craig do?” And then do the opposite.

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May 242014
 

The spring and summer of 2008 was one of the best times of my life. I had a job, so Henry and I weren’t fighting about money (basically the only thing we ever fight about). Chooch was an adorable 2-year-old with a penchant for blurting out “Asshole!” in public. Christina and I were at the pinnacle of our BBFdom, and she was visiting a lot from Cincinnati so hijinks were prevalent.

This was also around the time that she and I began our unhealthy obsession with all things Jonny Craig. We first fell in love with his angelic pipes when he was in Dance Gavin Dance, but then they kicked him out so we were sad. Fortunately, that spring we started hearing things about a new band who had snagged him while he was in band limbo. They were called Emarosa and even though they have previously put out an album with another singer, Christina and I had never heard of them. But they were about to become our new favorite band.

When “Relativity” was released that July, it suddenly seemed like DGD kicking out Jonny was the best idea ever. Emarosa had stolen our hearts and our creepy Jonny Craig infatuation grew exponentially. When music becomes so entwined with your life, it’s euphoric. It becomes more than just music.

It becomes a soundtrack.

Christina and I ended up meeting him in Buffalo later that year and it was emotionally traumatic for me. He was completely disinterested in anything I had to say but took an immediate liking to her. Drug users unite, I guess. That night ended with me sitting in the car of Xtreme Wheels, crying to Henry on the phone about how Jonny Craig ruined my life and I was going to just drive the 5 hours home in a snow storm because I couldn’t stand to be around Christina over night.

I ended up calming down after Christina bought me pie at a Greek diner, but our friendship went downhill that fall and never found its footing again. We were no longer speaking at all when Emarosa released their next album in 2010. I listened to it on repeat that whole summer, like a leper jumping into a silo of salt. It was my way of coping, because my friends were sick of hearing about Christina. They probably still are, honestly, even though I try to stick a cork in it.

Because trust me, there’s not a day that goes by.

The winter of 2011, Henry and I were on our way to see Emarosa at the Rex Theater. They were co-headlining with “new” Chiodos (i.e. the short-lived Brandon Bolmer-era). I was casually scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a tweet from Absolute Punk. “Jonny Craig forced into detox.” Apparently, Emarosa and the record label had had enough and actually made him leave the tour that morning, and sent him to a detox facility in California. This was right after he got caught scamming his fans by selling a Mac Book that didn’t exist for drug money. (Rise Records had to pay back all of the fans who blindly Western Union’d him money.)

At the last minute, Tilian Pearson from Tides of Man was asked to fill in for Jonny’s vocals. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t Jonny. I was really upset that night. An Emarosa without Jonny, followed by a Chiodos without Craig Owens. It was really confusing and stressful on my heart.

Meanwhile, Jonny was also back in Dance Gavin Dance, and jumped on a tour with them right after he got out of detox, so I got to see him a month later anyway. Seeing him live is hard to explain, because I love him as a singer so much, and he embodies all of the best things of 2008. I project a lot of emotion and bottled-up feelings on to him, which is why to the casual observer, I act like a 14-year-old reading a Kirk Cameron issue of Tiger Beat in 1987. He’s my best friend proxy, in a way. Especially considering he’s let me down almost as much as she has. But I still listen to his music, no matter what band he’s in, because it’s the only thing I have to keep the memories of 2008 alive.

Not long after the detox incident, Emarosa released a statement saying that they had parted ways with Jonny. Inevitable, but still my heart was broken. I loved Emarosa so much and the general consensus in the scene was that they were done. Without Jonny, what were they? Just another band fading into the background. With Jonny, they should have realistically enjoyed great levels of success, but because of his unprofessionalism, douchebaggery and drug addiction, it was a case of having the golden ticket to nowhere. They didn’t even record their last album together. Jonny did his vocals from the other side of the country.

What a piece of shit, right? God, I hate him but I love him so much, all at once.

Not too long after the Emarosa divorce, DGD also gave him the boot for the second time, but unlike Emarosa, they found a replacement pretty quickly: Tilian Pearson, the same guy who filled in for Jonny on the last Emarosa tour. Jonny hooked up with Kyle Lucas and Captain Midnite, recorded a new solo album, and went on a few tours. But Emarosa stayed pretty silent. I still followed them on Twitter and Facebook, but there were very few updates from 2011 to 2013. They opened up to Alternative Press and promised that this wasn’t the end for them.

But it really felt like the end.

Finally, last summer, Jonny conveniently let it slip on Twitter that Emarosa had found his replacement: Bradley Walden from Squid the Whale. I guess Jonny just wanted to put it out there and ruin whatever Emarosa was planning to do as an announcement. Because that’s the kind of awesome guy he is.

I didn’t know much about Squid the Whale previously but a quick listen made me a believer in Emarosa’s choice. Bradley could SANG, y’all. Still, I was nervous about what he could bring to the table, and how well he would be able to perform the Jonny songs.

After officially announcing their new singer, Emarosa went quiet again. Rise Records was posting all kinds of teasers on Facebook, like, “Hey guys, just heard the new Emarosa album. You guys are going to love it!” and we were all like, “STOP BEING DICKS! GIVE US A SINGLE!”

And they finally did:

And my heart burst into a million pieces of blood-coated stained glass. Ah, that voice, are you kidding me!? Backed by those five guys that I refused to give up on. It felt so good to be an Emarosa fan. Especially after the way they very professionally took much warranted pot shots at Jonny Craig in a promo video they released a few months ago. (No sarcasm here: considering the Hell Jonny put them through, I think they were within their right to talk about it and I’m really impressed at how they were able to keep it classy at the same time.)

While at the same time, Jonny was doing this:
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With Jonny’s new band Slaves about to release their album in June too, the drama has been popcorn-worthy. And I have to say, I was nervous about seeing Emarosa live last Monday, because it’s hard to tell based on the shitty YouTube videos people have been uploading. I didn’t want Jonny to be right. It’s not easy loving a band and then hearing another voice singing those songs that have become your Bible.

I asked Chooch who he likes better and he said, “Bradley, obviously. Jonny Craig does drugs.”

I can tell you that it was only sound check, and hearing a five-second sample of Bradley’s voice made my heart feel like it was dropping out of my kooka. I had to grip Henry’s knee and he was like, “Stop it.” When the lights went out, they weren’t even fully on the stage yet and I was in tears. Then they went right into “The Past Should Stay Dead” and I was a sniveling mess. Bradley killed it. He sang those songs like they were written for him, and I know that’s driving Jonny nuts because he’s been whining on Twitter about how it’s terrible to hear HIS SONGS being destroyed. “His songs.” He did nothing to help Emarosa write those songs.

When Bradley sang the line “We know who does it best” I almost died, because POIGNANT.

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He was all up in the crowd, being gracious, talking about how honored he is to be singing with a band that he has been a fan of for years. He didn’t try to sing like Jonny; he sang like Bradley. And he brought charisma by the boatload. How could something feel so familiar yet so new?

You know those fountains that move along to music? That was me Monday night at the House of Blues: music played and my tear ducts were engaged. Throw some fucking pennies in me.

And then this happened:

BRADLEY LEFT ME A HEART ON INSTAGRAM! Jonny probably would have just called me fat. I love that Bradley gives a shit.

The best part for me was seeing the rest of the guys SMILING while they played.

The worst part for me was when some asshole behind me started shouting, “WHERE’S JONNY CRAIG? YOU SUCK!” I was getting really upset and I think Henry was afraid I was going to open my mouth (I was) but some other girl beat me to it and shouted back to him, “HE’S A DOUCHE!”

“I hope Bradley didn’t hear him,” I cried to Henry afterward, and then proceeded to spend the next 72 hours being emotionally wrecked.

“Are you still crying?” Robbie asked incredulously while we were waiting for Chiodos to come on. YES, YES I WAS.

Bradley was standing by the merch booth after the show and Henry kept urging me to go talk to him because Henry likes to psychologically abuse me. I did a few stutter steps and while saying, “OK fine. No. OK I will. No I can’t” before finally just crying, “LET’S JUST GO!” I didn’t want to snot the guy’s shirt, you guys. I was just feeling way too raw to try and form words with my mouth without choking on tears and having yet another singer in a band think I’m special needs.

Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever get to see Emarosa again, one more memento of 2008 buried into the ground. It was a really confusing, emotional night for me. I wished that I could just crawl inside their music and lay there for awhile, like a bed full of all the best memories and softest feelings. SO CORNY BUT I DON’T CARE. STEP THE FUCK OFF. I’m having a moment.

I think they have the chance to become a true post-hardcore powerhouse and I can’t wait for their album to come out next month. Here’s to starting over.

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I’m going to see Jonny’s new band tomorrow in Allentown, which I’m really stoked for because this is their first tour and I NEED TO KNOW, but after the Emarosa jabs, my love meter for Jonny is really waning. Maybe this will be my closure.

Seriously considering wearing my Emarosa shirt tomorrow night. #teambradley #emarosavseveryone

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May 192014
 

Marcy was sitting next to me when I was doing Real Important Things on the computer last night (putting together puzzles on Jigzone, duh). Sorry Marcy, you sit that close to me, you pay the price.

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Now she’s acting all weird because Grandma Judy is here and Marcy knows that means her beloved Henry is going somewhere. I mean, I’m going too but Marcy has the confetti and noisemakers lined up for that.

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