Nov 212014
 

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After our life-changing trip to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Corey and I decided it was time to get a substantial meal that didn’t consist of cheese cubes on toothpicks and (the best) butter (in the world) on Wheat Thins. We opted for Der Dutchman because it boasted Amish Kitchen Cooking, so of course we went and ordered the two most American meals on the menu: a cheeseburger and grilled cheese. And we forgot to use our dinner rolls the way they were intended: as vehicles for Der Dutchman’s peanut butter spread. Corey wanted to ask our waitress for more rolls so that he could have a do-over, but then he kept chickening out. Also, we had to stand in line just to get inside the restaurant, which normally would be a huge HELL NO for me, but when in Amish Country, I guess. Some hag in front of us kept trying to make conversation because we clearly have such avuncular faces? I’ve always been told that I’m stand-offish, so I guess that doesn’t translate in Ohio.

Before we were seated, there was a brief moment of panic when Corey and I thought that this was a family-style restaurant and that we might have to sit at a table with some horrible family, asking us to pass the biscuits, and I almost fled. When I was a kid, this might have been pre-Corey, our family went to Lancaster, PA, which is essentially the Amish capital of America.  We ate at some restaurant that had an attached petting zoo and we sat a long wooden table with other families and I was crying internally because I didn’t want to eat with people I didn’t know but our dad was like FUCK YES THIS IS REAL COUNTRY-LIVING! He was all about it. But what I remember most about that meal was the shoo-fly pie. Because of that experience, it has always been the first thing my mind goes to when I think of Amish (OK fine, right after I think about them copulating through a hole in a sheet).

This is all to say that I was really looking forward to piggybacking  my grilled cheese with a slice of that sticky molasses Dutch pie.

(Oh dear god, my tongue is having vivid flashbacks of my last shoo-fly pie experience.)

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I was really excited about the creamed corn.

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Halfway through lunch, I noticed that Bitch-Broad from Heini’s, the one who had the nerve to yell at our beloved Father Cheese, was also dining at Der Dutchman! (That’s her in the green shirt and stupid poufy hair behind Corey.) Corey said she was also at the bakery we stopped at across from Heini’s and that even in there, she was bitching about how she couldn’t believe the price of whatever bakery item she was glaring at. Then we saw her after we left Der Dutchman as she and her horde of less-bitchy broads walked into a chocolate shop. She still looked mad! How are you going to be mad walking into a CHOCOLATE SHOP? Maybe she should have just stayed home and watched her DVR collection of The View.

But as usual, my train of thought is getting derailed once again. She has literally nothing to do with shoo fly pie.

When our waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, Corey and I declined because we hadn’t seen shoo fly pie on the menu and we were obviously saving room for that down the road.

Before we left the Der Dutchman parking lot, Corey decided that we should call our dad and ask him where to get the dessert of Amish gods.

Corey put him on speaker, and it was one of the  most painful laugh-stifling moments of my life, possibly even moreso than the one at Heini’s, because I felt actual kidney pain. Like the angel on my shoulder had hopped off and started punching me in the side for being the type of asshole who laughs at a dad who is genuinely trying to help his kids have the best Amish experience possible.

“Oh, I doubt you’re going to find shoofly pie,” our dad said gravely. “In fact, I had to pre-order one the last time I was there because I knew the bakeries wouldn’t have any otherwise.”

We were suffering at this point from what I can only describe as “The Wet Laughs.” Tears were streaming down our faces and I was even starting to break a sweat from the exertion of laugh-containment.  Corey wheezed, “I can’t!” and flat out hung up on our dad. I can only imagine how ugly I looked in that moment, with my face wet, red and twisted in a mixture of pain and hilarity. I FELT ugly. It was an ugly laugh. Hearing our dad speaking so seriously about shoofly pie was just too much.

Finally, we calmed down enough for Corey to call our dad back, who answered immediately by saying, “The reception is really bad out there, I know.” And then proceeded to sound disappointed when we mentioned that we chose Heini’s over Walnut Creek Cheese, and then asked, “Did you guys go to the hardware store yet?”

That fucking hardware store!

“It’s not like a Home Depot, you know,” he earnestly advised. “It’s TWO FLOORS and it has a lot of things that Erin would like to look at. Like birdhouses.”

BIRDHOUSES?!

We promised that we would stop and check it out after we visited Sugarcreek, but first we had important business to tend to at Swiss Heritage Winery, which was essentially like your Aunt Rhoda’s house, full of sparkly trinkets, Betty Boop memorabilia, and clashing floral patterns, with a small wine bar thrown in almost as an afterthought.

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Corey and I each chose 5 wine samples from a cheerful lady in a supposedly traditional Swiss dress and then plucked some complimentary chips and cheese cubes from a platter and took our wine samples over to a tall table where we recalled what we learned from Roberto at Narcisi Winery last year, and proceeded to stick out like sore thumbs. I liked all  the wines just fine, but wasn’t really in the mood to purchase any bottles until I noticed that he cherry cranberry variety was called “Han’s Favorite Wine” and featured a picture of Hans himself, in a Swiss cap and lederhosen. Swiss Heritage, you got yourself a sale.

While Corey and I were paying for our wine, I used it as an opportunity to ask the older women behind the counter if they had the shoofly pie 411.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the expression on the one woman’s face actually darkened, like we were suddenly in I had audaciously screamed “Voldemort.”

“I wouldn’t even know,” she said curtly. “That’s something you don’t see very often around here anymore.”

“You might want to try Der Dutchman,” the other woman offered, with a slight shrug, but I told them we had just come from there and it was a no-go. (Although we never actually ASKED the waitress. Now I’m kind of glad we hadn’t. We might have been told to get the fuck out.)

“Sorry, I just don’t know,” the first woman said without even a HINT of apology as she handed over our gaudy gift-wrapped wine purchases.

As we shirked out of the door, I could hear the two of them still talking about shoo fly pie, like they had just been reminded of something that they were told to forget.

“I think I might have a recipe for that somewhere….” the nicer of the two was saying as the door closed behind us.

****

“What the fuck, Corey!?” I laughed as we set off for Sugarcreek to finally gawk at the world’s largest cuckoo clock. “Why did t hey act so weird about shoofly pie!?” We spouted off some theories, like maybe there was some feud between the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish community and the Ohio Amish, and the PA peeps won the rights to the pie.

After checking out the clock, we stopped in some novelty shop called Finder’s Keepers, where we quickly learned that a movie was recently filmed there called “Love Finds You In Sugarcreek.” Almost every shop along the main street had signs and DVD displays in  their windows. Even the Gospel Shop! We stopped in the Decanter and Stein “Museum,” which was basically just a small,  musty room full of steins and decanters for sale. I found pretty  much the only one that wasn’t $500 dollars and decided that I needed to buy it because I refused to leave Sugarcreek without a stein. I’m suddenly hot for steins, I don’t know.

The proprietor was a really old man who took his grand old time wrapping my stein in newspaper and taping it with 87 pieces of Scotch tape while I was having a coughing fit. My allergies had been flaring all week and basically as soon as we set foot in that shop, I knew I didn’t have much time. This was he only low point of the day for me, and as sweet as that old man was, I had strong urges to snatch the half-wrapped stein from him and yell, “I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF THANKS” except that I couldn’t even speak since I was coughing so hard.

Once we stepped out into fresh air, I felt fine, so we went to Esther’s Home Baked Goods which was right next store. The inside of the bakery was very brown and austere. But Esther’s friendliness and bonneted-head compensated for the lack of paper lanterns and pastel palette.

“Oh, I see you looking at my chocolate pie!” she enthused, and I had porn flashbacks. “It’s on sale because I messed it up. It still tastes good, though!”

Way to sell it, Esther!

“You don’t happen to have any shoofly pie?” Corey asked.

“No,” Esther said, seemingly bemused by this question. “But it’s funny you ask, because several people have asked me that lately! Maybe I should try to make it again….” she added, mostly to herself.

I ended up getting some weird date cake thing and Corey got pumpkin ice cream and peanut butter fudge.

“Tell me if the fudge is OK!” she begged Corey. “It just didn’t seem right when I made it.”

This lady and me would make a great business team. Esther and her “Dessert Messes” and me and my “Fake Art.” Our confidence will bowl you over.

My date cake thing was actually pretty good though. Corey said the fudge was way too soft but he liked it. He left out the “too soft” part when he gave her his review before we left to set off for the infamous “hardware store.” If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were being sent off for slaughter.

****

I don’t know why I didn’t bother doing this while we were there, but a quick google of “shoofly pie” explains that it really is mostly just a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. No wonder those broads seemed so weird about it. They clearly hate Pennsylvania.

If there is one takeaway from our day in Ohio Amish Country, it’s that I really need to spend more time with my dad. He has inadvertently given Corey and me a day that we will probably talk about (and laugh about!) for the rest of our lives. And THAT is better than shoofly pie.

****

THIS JUST IN!!!

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Nov 192014
 

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You might know this about me, but I am a hoe for Swiss/Bavarian/German culture, especially when it involves American tourist traps. So it’s really no surprise that one of the biggest draws for me when it comes to Ohio Amish Country is definitely the small town of Sugarcreek. Henry, Chooch and I had briefly stopped there in 2010 after I insisted we take a detour on our way home from Michigan so that I could see the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Henry was PISSED because when we finally found it, it wasn’t even assembled; it had apparently been dismantled after the restaurant it was once attached to had closed, and now it was just sitting in an empty lot.

I had heard that it had finally been bought and moved to the center of town, so I had been begging Henry to take me back for the last two years now and he always has some stupid excuse like, “I don’t want to spend money” or “That place is dumb.”

So when Corey suggested we take a sibling trip to look at Amish people in Ohio and I found out that he was actually talking about THIS SAME AREA, it was on.

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We arrived in Sugarcreek sometime after lunch at Der Dutchman but before visiting our dad’s beloved “hardware store.” The clock puts on its show every 30 minutes, so since we had about 15 minutes to kill, we asked some local jogger to take our picture. She was pretty much slowing her roll before we even asked because I’m sure we looked like idiots trying to take a selfie while capturing the entire clock in the background. The struggle was real.

People in Sugarcreek are super nice. Obviously. IT’S OHIO’S LITTLE SWITZERLAND!

Sitting on the bench (which Corey discovered flips over into a picnic table!), waiting for the 3:00PM edition of Swiss folk music to blare out of the barely-hidden speakers, I was revisited by all of my past lives where I was better known as Swiss Miss, Heidi, and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

(Whoever said this waste of Internet space wasn’t occasionally educational?)

I felt so excited and in touch with my inner Alps-frolicking, Ricola-sucking self at that moment, it was like someone stuffed a bouquet of edelweiss up my ass.

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Very kitsch. Such creep. You just know those lederhosen-clad band members sneak off in the middle of the night and drag stray cats and severed human limbs back into the dark penetralia of the cuckoo clock.

Another family joined us for the highly anticipated 3pm viewing, and somehow Corey and I were able to act like civilized human beings through its entirety. We managed to get our fill of the cuckoo clock’s 2 minute presentation of robust Swiss folk music**, right before a tour bus, probably full of those impatient cheese-grubbing fuck lords at Heini’s, rolled up to clog the area with a coterie of obstructed bowels.

**(Seriously, click that link to watch exactly 15 seconds of the clock in action. It’ll take you to Instagram, because I just found out the hard way that I apparently can’t embed my Instagram videos here now.)

After sufficiently making fun of the tour bus, we decided that our next sibling adventure will definitely need to involve us booking one of those weekender tours.

“It’ll be us and old people,” Corey said dreamily. “They’ll love us!”

And they really will, too, because somehow old people are incapable of sniffing out our douchiness.

Next up: the shoo fly pie saga.

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Nov 142014
 

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Somehow, Corey and I were able to stifle our giggles long enough to devour Heini cheese samples. I was delighted to see that nearly every type of cheese had a tupperware container in front of it, loaded with tiny tastes in cube-form. Corey and I grabbed toothpicks and got to samplin’.

The store was very crowded, and nearly every person in line was also buying stuff, so the line moved pretty slow. To the man behind me, this was unacceptable and rather than wait 20 seconds until I moved forward, he stretched his body across me so that he could blindly spear spear. I gave him a good once-over with my judging eyes and he did not appear to be OMG STARVING. I guess he was just in a hurry.

Buddy, I don’t think they were going to run out of cheese.

Corey and I were intrigued by the weird cheese flavors in the aisle next to us, flavors such as rainbow sherbet, which looked beautiful but I thought for sure would not taste as such. Then that entire aisle turned out to be fudge, so I guess Heini’s isn’t really that progressive after all.

I didn’t try any fudge samples because I knew it would culminate into my shaking entire containers of the minuscule slivers into my mouth because I can’t do stuff like that in moderation. One sample would quickly turn into an easy 5 new pounds on the scale Monday morning.

Sigh.

Corey tried some and said it was amazing. Of course it was! It was Heini’s brand.

At one point, I looked around and felt sad at the urgency these people were popping sample after sample past their cheese-lusting lips. Sad and sick. Welcome to America! In fact, after crawling past the cream cheese spreads (the fruity ones were great, thanks for the heads up Father Cheese!) and beef sticks, Corey and I decided that we really didn’t care to stand in line and eat anymore, especially since we were going to be headed to lunch afterward. So we took our wares to the nearest register. Corey bought some Amish noodles for our dad, and I showed tons of restraint by only snagging two types of cheese: horseradish and Vidalia onion. I really, really love cheese, but I’m also super cheap and don’t enjoy spending money on food. I also grabbed a jar of gooseberry jam, though. Because I could always go for a good gooseberry.

We ALMOST left right after this. The joint was a madhouse of directionless tourists and I can’t stand crowded stores. But I needed a souvenir! There were other areas of the chalet, like a candy room, a cafe, and also a room in the back that was full of Americana home decor, cat calendars and souvenirs…but also samples of butter.

AND NOT JUST ANY BUTTER.

Father Cheese had mentioned this butter during our excruciating cheese tour, and told us at least twice that we were lucky to have come to Heini’s that day, because the butter was ON SALE. I remember thinking that I didn’t care.

In fact, I had forgotten all about this highly-touted Heini butter, until we walked into the back room where a man in a blue shirt stood behind a counter and cried out, “THIS IS…THE BEST BUTTER IN THE WORLD. YOU WILL NOT FIND A BETTER BUTTER!” while methodically slathering Wheat Thins with smooth, yellow globs.

Corey and I exchanged wide-eyed looks of hyperbolic wonderment and marched over for a sample, fully prepared to refute this man’s lofty claim.

But goddamn if that wasn’t the best butter in the world. I mean, maybe I’m just really sheltered when it comes to the best butters, but this seriously was the BEST BUTTER that ever touched my tongue.

“And today, you can buy not one but THREE for $5!” the butter-slinger announced. I had a vision of myself splayed out on a hammock somewhere in Georgia, maybe, spreading perfect smears of the best butter in the world on hot biscuits and quite honestly not giving a FUCK about anything else, because why would I? The best butter in the world was melting in my mouth.

I made a beeline for the cooler behind him, where I snatched up three tubs of the perfectly-churned bread lotion before the tour bus people  caught on and another grotesque lined formed. I won’t be beat by the fanny-pack set.

Across from the Best Butter-slinger was a small section of postcards, mugs, magnets and t-shirts for those sentimental types (me me me) so I grabbed a magnet for my collection at work. (I like  to show my new magnets to Glenn right before I stick them on my closet-thing; he will say things like “wow” or “cool” without so much as a glance.) There was also a pile of red Heini shirts. A bright wheel of cheese was displayed prominently on the back, right above the informative phrase: WHERE THE CHEESE IS MADE.

Corey said, “Should we?” and I said, “Oh my god, definitely!” He had to go out to the car to get more cash, which left me alone, unsupervised and undistracted for way too many minutes with the Better Monologue.

It was like falling inside an infomercial at 3am: monotonous, cheesy (oh hahahaha), outrageously boastful…the only thing missing from his hyper sales pitch was a BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

I guess probably because there wasn’t more. The best butter in the world was enough on its own. Do you think Butter-slinger wakes up at 6am every morning without the aid of an alarm, bounds out of bed and brushes his teeth with a squirt of that slick pasteurized cream while reciting facts to the mirror, such as BUTTER IS GOOD FOR YOUR LIVER, before rubbing the best butter all over his nude body while making orgasm-faces before going to his woodshed and slaughtering the Amish hostages he has chained up and frying up their flesh in the best butter?

Does he bring his own to-go tubs of Heini’s best butter to restaurants with him so he doesn’t have to use disgusting, white trash Land o’Lakes? (The horror.)

I wonder if he’s married. If so, did they have a butter sculpture at their wedding reception? TELL ME YOU’RE NOT WONDERING ABOUT THIS NOW. I sat on a bench with an old lady who totally busted me filming Instavids of the butter show, so I got up and moved to a different area, where people were too busy looking at racks of wind chimes and other such Amish novelties to notice me being weird.

The line had grown a bit by the time Corey came back to buy his shirt, so we had to endure an additional fifteen minutes of butter superlatives barraging our ear drums. Corey made eye contact with the cashier while he was purchasing his t-shirt and he said she gave him this “I know, right?” look.

Once Corey paid for his shirt, we fled the butter room before we wound up having another fit. As we made it closer to the main area of Heini’s, we realized that Father Cheese’s voice was emanating from the ceiling, like God himself, and then we saw him with a HEADSET ON! And not only that, but somehow Best Butter had made it to the front of the store without us knowing and was HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH FATHER CHEESE!

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE!

OUR TWO FAVORITE HEINIS!!

We had originally wanted to say goodbye to Father Cheese, mostly so that we could show him that we bought things, maybe that would convince him that his cheese tour wasn’t all for naught, that Corey and I aren’t so bad after all and at least Heini’s made a few dimes off us. But there was an actual wall of people blocking us from his information table and I was starting to sweat at the idea of trying to Moses my way through.

As if that wasn’t a great note on which to end our visit, we noticed that some broad was arguing with Father Cheese. The joint had become so packed with tourists hungry for cheddar that Father Cheese was trying to direct foot traffic. It appeared that he mistakenly told the poufy-haired broad to get into the wrong line, and she was FUCKING PISSED.

Corey and I stood there in horror. How could anyone yell at Father Cheese?! He’s so old and frail and has TWO hearing aids! I wanted to march over and save him, but then a ginger-man standing nearby began speaking to me, because apparently this is what people do in Ohio Amish Country: cultivate small talk.

“This is ridiculous!” he spat through a set of interestingly-directioned teeth. “I been standing here watching people cut in line this whole time! My wife has been standing in line forever trying to pay and I seen THREE WOMEN—I’ll just leave it that, three WOMEN, I won’t say anything else about them—walk past all those people and cut right in front of my wife!”

OMG OK “I’m Not Racist, But…” Guy.

It was incredibly awkward and he just kept ranting about how out of control the place was. We stood in mutual silence for a few seconds, taking in the rowdy cheese epicure-wannabes, 80% of whom I guarantee have a fridgeful of Velveeta and individually-wrapped Kraft slices, anxious to taste the next sample and buy all of the cheese before it had a chance to age anymore.

Finally, I shrugged and said, “I mean…it’s just cheese” while slowly backing out of the door.

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As soon as we got outside, we absolutely lost our minds all over again. IT’S JUST CHEESE.

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Nov 122014
 

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I felt kind of bad that Corey and I opted to visit Heini’s Cheese Chalet over our dad’s suggestion of Walnut Creek Cheese. He’s a self-professed expert on Ohio Amish Country, so I don’t doubt that Walnut Creek Cheese is a wonderful establishment. However, when I did my own research last week and stumbled upon Heini’s Cheese Chalet, I was like, “Holy fuck, this is the one.” Because:

  • it’s a cheese CHALET
  • it’s called HEINI’S
  • it offers cheese factory tours!!

I texted Corey and he was like FUCK YES HEINI’S.

I noted that some of the Yelp reviews mentioned it was imperative to get there before 11:30, because that’s when it gets really crowded. We made it to Millersburg around 10:45, after squealing and pointing at all of the Amish buggies we passed along the way because we are Those People Who Remind the Amish Why They Chose That Path.

…because they don’t want to be American assholes like us.

We pulled into the parking lot of Heini’s at the same time as a large tour bus, and I was like “WHAT IF THE CHEESE TOUR FILLS UP?!” so we ran toward the entrance at the same time as four older woman, who laughed at us because they too were trying to beat the bus. THEY EVEN HELD THE DOOR OPEN FOR US. Corey and I thanked them sweetly and then exchanged excited LOOK AT US, MAKING FRIENDS! looks. If those old ladies really knew!

I went straight to the restroom, knowing that an empty bladder was imperative considering how quick I am to laugh to the point of pee-drops. When I came out, I found Corey standing near an information kiosk with a comically-old man who said he was willing to give us a tour anytime we’d like.

Which obviously was RIGHTNOW. This was around the time that I realized literally no one, not one single fanny-packed Midwesterner, was trying to get a spot on this critically-acclaimed tour. It was just me and Corey with some old guy in a Cosby sweater who was extremely stoked to tell us the story of how cheese is born. We got started at the beginning of a hallway, where we could peek through windows into a large factory-room with industrial-sized bins where milk apparently does things. There was no cheese being made at the time, so our guide kept expecting us to “imagine” the process, but you guys. I have to admit, it was pretty boring. Curds and whey and blah blah blah. Corey looked extremely bored. He spent most of the time looking away, and all I could think was, “Oh no. Corey’s not having fun! I built this cheese tour up too much!” But then I quickly realized that he was trying not to make eye contact with me because he knew, and I knew, that we would both start laughing.

While fidgeting to get my phone to start recording, I tried to occasionally nod my head and say things like, “Wow” and “Whoa.” I mean, this guy was so into it, almost treating it like it was the greatest bedtime story ever told, and I waited for him to invite Corey and me to sit on his knees so he could be better inspired to tell us wayback stories about how he used to walk 40 miles in cardboard-soled shoes in the winter to fetch Heini cheese for his mother while Father was in town watching nudies at the theater.

Nudies.

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“And this is the man who invented yogurt cheese right here at Heini’s!” Father Cheese proudly exclaimed, and then stepped back to watch Corey and I gape at the portrait. I was surprised that the yogurt cheese man wasn’t a Heini! Man, he must be heralded by all those lactose intolerants.

We moved at a snail’s pace down that hallway, pausing to peer through new windows that offered the same views of large, steel vat-things, and I became acutely aware of the fact that the cheese shop had become twice as crowded since we started our tour. People were shoving cheese samples into their gluttonous maws mere feet from where we stood, listening to Father Cheese talk about the aging process for sharp varieties, like your CHEDDARS AND SUCH.

I could feel the giddiness begin to churn deep inside my gut, just like all that HOT MILK THAT MAKES THE CHEESE. I just kept chewing on the inside of my cheek, digging my fingernails into my palms, and repeating “Don’t make eye contact with Corey” over and over. I was thinking that maybe I was going to make it through without making a complete asshole of myself!

I found out later that Corey too was employing the physical pain infliction method of curbing the giggles, along with the classic “thinking about depressing things” tactic.

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“What kinds of things do you like in your cheese?” he interrupted his curd-y fact-sharing to ask us.

Corey just stared back blankly, so I quickly blurted, “You know, I like FRUIT in my cheese.” WHICH IS A LIE! WHY DID I SAY THAT?! I mean, I’ve had cheese with dried cranberries in it that was pretty tasty, but fruity fromage is not something that I would consider a staple on my cheese board. I wanted to take it back and tell him that I meant dill or fennel, horseradish even! But he had already plunged head-first into a passage of fruit-infused cream cheese spreads.

By this point, he had backed us into a dead end while explaining to us how the cheese got its shape or something, I can’t remember. Full disclosure, I retained absolutely nothing from this walk down Learning Lane except that the men working in the factory were wearing BEARD NETS. While I was gawking at two of them pushing a cart of cheese up a ramp, Father Cheese made some comment about how heavy such large quantities of cheese is.

“Look at them, pushing that booger up there,” he said adoringly, and in my head, I was like HAHAHAH HE SAID BOOGER, DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH.

But then bits of pieces of the last 15 minutes came flying back into my face: the fact that Father Cheese’s wife made him a breakfast shake out of WHEY that morning, the picture of the man who invited YOGURT CHEESE, the tour bus full of people HUNGRY FOR CHEESE, the bonnet-wearing cashiers who I’m not sure were actually Amish, Father Cheese’s sweater, us racing the passengers of the tour bus because we thought they were going to fill up the cheese tour….

THE IDEA OF PASTEURIZATION ALONE WAS INJECTING ME WITH GIGGLES, RIGHT IN THE FACE! LIKE THE GIDDIEST ROUND OF BOTOX OF ALL TIME.

And then I accidentally made eye contact with Corey right as Father Cheese was ticking off the BIG CITIES where one could find Heini’s cheese (Pittsburgh is one!). Corey made some kind of painful squeak from trying to contain the giggles, and that was all it took. Flood gates opened. We laughed so hard that it actually, physically hurt and even though I had purposely peed before the tour started, I felt a drop threaten to fall.

It was hilarious and horrifying all at once because I have never actually been busted laughing in someone’s face like that before. I mean, at the Bayernhof, there were people (and music boxes) to hide behind. But here, it was just the three of us, and I was backed into a corner. Literally.

This used to happen to me a lot when I was a kid. In church. Sitting on a pew among hundreds of silent parishioners, and there I go. Snorting and wheezing and my whole body shaking because YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO LAUGH IN CHURCH WHILE THE PRIEST IS TALKING ABOUT A MAN WHO WAS CRUCIFIED.

But it was never this bad.

Father Cheese stopped talking and slowly looked from Corey to me. He was confused, yet trying to keep a smile on his face. He knew that nothing he was saying was funny, but Corey and I were fucking scream-laughing at this point. I was slightly squatting to stop myself from peeing and Corey’s face was bright red from the exertion of hilarity.

You need to know about Corey and me that we are basically human hyenas. We will laugh at nothing and everything and then proceed to feed off of each other’s hyper-inappropriateness and it’s just a hot, douchey mess.

So, that’s all it took: one quick contact with the eyeballs and there went our sanity, slipping off our faces like rotted banana peels. I thought about how disappointed our dad would have been right then, at his kids making a mockery of Amish Country; and how disappointed Henry would have been, at the mother of his child setting more examples of assholery. And how disappointed Father Cheese certainly was, at these two spoiled brats who were laughing all over his very livelihood. We might as well have been squirting Easy Cheese into mouths right in front of him, that’s how badly our laughter was desecrating the entire Amish cheese process, right down to the Amish milk shooting out from Amish teats.

What probably only lasted for 30 seconds felt like watching a wheel of cheddar being aged. It was so uncomfortable, awkward, mortifying, embarrassing—-but SO FUCKING FUNNY.

Poor Father Cheese though, he was so confused. Finally, I was able to psychically bitch slap myself hard enough to stop laughing long enough to explain that we had been in the car all day and were extremely slap happy.

Father Cheese smiled and placed a hand on my arm.

“I understand. Why don’t we just end it here,” he said in grandfatherly tones lightly seasoned with exhaustion and a desire to suckle butterscotch; he handed me a sheet of paper with additional information, including great advice such as:

Do not put cheese in your car trunk [on hot summer days]. This would be the hottest place.

Corey and I had to walk back down the hall with him after that and it was excruciating. We purposely fell behind and then pretended to be SUPER INTERESTED in a bulletin board full of children’s cheese drawings until we were certain that Father Cheese was far enough away for us to safely proceed.

This was the first time in my life that I ever had to flat out confront my immature and out-of-place bray and it was A REAL EYE OPENER. Not enough to suddenly put us in check though. We were practically hiccuping at this point from all of the fermented laughter.

I texted Henry:

Me: Well, I peed my pants from laughing so hard at our first stop.

Henry: I’m glad it’s just the two of you.

Me, Oh, you would be so pissed!

Henry: I’m sure of that.

And then we proceeded to get in a line that would eventually herd us like cattle past veritable troughs of cheese samples.

TO BE CONTINUED, OMG.

 

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Nov 082014
 

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Ever since our dad had Amish people working on his house, Corey and I decided that it was imperative for us to have an Amish adventure, because what is the most obnoxious thing for us to do?!

Our dad was REALLY excited to find out that we decided to go to Sugarcreek, OH because it’s apparently one of his favorite places and Corey said sometimes our dad will disappear for 6 hours only to come home with bags of cheese and beef sticks after taking his motorcycle to Amish Country on a whim.

Anyway, he was excited to make us an itinerary of post-it notes, pictured above, and Corey said he mentioned the hardware store several times.

“Ya gotta finish up at the hardware store!”

Corey said he was jabbing his finger at the map and was so into it, so now we’re like WHAT IS AT THE HARDWARE STORE?!

I’m excited to find out.

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Oct 262014
 

 

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I have been dying to go back to Knoebel’s ever since I was there on opening day in 2013 with the DAFE crew. I know this sounds weird coming from the likes of me, and that this is the opposite of what I should like, but this park is ADORABLE. It’s all quaint and family-friendly, far away from the Big City and rife with fluffy dogs on leashes. And that’s just on a regular day! They have Halloween-themed weekends in October, so Henry earned a million brownie points (do those still exist? is there an app to keep track of them now?) by taking us there last weekend.

It was goddamn precious. Leaves on the ground. Hay bales painted like pumpkins. Ghosts hanging from the trees. A Halloween-music light show on the front of some building. There were no chainsaw guys or zombies popping out from behind garbage cans, but who the hell cares? Sometimes a little Halloween Lite is just as magical.

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Also, the novelty of amusement park rides in the fall!

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On the way through the parking lot, Chooch declared that whoever stepped on a leaf first loses. Because I am an 8-year-old too, I was all about this game and nimbly tip-toed past crisp leaves skipping across the pavement in front of me, all while giving Chooch sharp shoves to try and make him trip up, Once we crossed the threshold into the park, though, I decided that we should stop playing because I wanted to look around at the seasonal decor instead of keeping my eyes on the ground.

“Besides,” I added. “Everyone knows I won anyway, Chooch.”

“Hey! I didn’t step on any leaves either!” Henry cried from in front of us, and I laughed because what the fuck, guys? Who invited Henry to our reindeer games?

I didn’t know this until we got there, but Chooch could have worn a costume and participated in the trick-or-treating stops around the park. I am always so woefully unprepared.

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CHOOCH: I thought the skeletons in the car were Ron and Jim from the tombstone right in front of it.

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First up, Chooch waited in line for the much-anticipated new ride of 2014, Flying Turns. It was the longest line we’d wait in all day, because this bitch is a hot commodity. (It took something like 8 years to build it, I think.) They had cute Halloween decorations set up along the line though, so we at least had things to distract us from the violent thoughts and ideas our minds were drawing up regarding the three teenagers in front of us who were totally obnoxious and kept rough-housing (ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially my dad) and every time they would lower their voices and side-eye me, I was certain they were making fat jokes.

(Chooch can’t write his thoughts on those kids because I won’t let him swear of make violent statements, so he said he has nothing to say then.)

Did I mention that there were signs along the way that threatened an approaching weigh-in? Because of the type of coaster this is, and physics that make my brain bleed, the ride attendants have to make sure that the weight is dispersed between the cars in a very precise manner and that SOME RIDERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RIDE TOGETHER. I texted Henry and said, “Great. I have to get weighed just to ride this thing? I want to die.” And he was all “lol.” I’m sorry, how is my body dysmorphia/eating disorder/obesophobia FUNNY? Fuck you, Henry. Have fun sitting on benches all day with the old people.

Turns out, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were three large metal plates on the coaster platform that you had to stand on with your riding partner while waiting for your turn, and the weights weren’t displayed, and even if they were, it was a combined total anyway. Chooch and I got the front car and several pre-teen kids filled up the other two and I guess my thunder thighs didn’t break the ride because we made it back in one piece.

All of that for a ride that seemingly lasted for all of 40 seconds and was just OK.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been roaming about like a child predator on the loose, and won Chooch some stupid plush peace finger thing, but it says YOLO on it. I kept hoping Chooch would lose it.

CHOOCH: I had it put in my sleeve and I kept acting like it was my hand and just holding it up.

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I think that the Phoenix might be my favorite wooden coaster of all time. It makes me laugh so hard that my face hurts (I KNOW, I KNOW: AND IT’S KILLING YOU). The second time Chooch and I were in line for this, we had an actual argument over where we sat the first time (he said it was the third car, BUT IT WAS THE FOURTH).

Anyway, the first part of the Phoenix has you going through a tunnel, which is fun on its own, but at night it was all foggy and lit up with Halloween shit! IT WAS SO EXCITING! CHOOCH AND I SCREAMED LIKE ASSHOLES!!!

CHOOCH: When it was nighttime, me and mommy were just talking and then we didn’t even know a hill was coming up and we screamed like idiots.

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This park is really not that big at all but Chooch and I would have been lost, literally, without our maps. Except that later that night, we had our maps and still got lost, literally, when Henry was naïve enough to think we could handle finding a bathroom on our own. Yeah, good one, Henry.

After Chooch and I went on a ride called Fandango and he continually cried YOLO instead of POLO when the ride operator wanted us to play Marco Polo, I decided it was time to break for food before I lost consciousness or murdered some nearby campers. Whichever came first. So Henry got in line to procure food for us (pierogies and potato pancakes!) while Chooch and I went to find somewhere “nearby” to sit but apparently it wasn’t near enough for Henry, who had a hard time finding us. MAYBE IT WAS INTENTIONAL, HENRY.

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We took pictures of ourselves while sitting next to two scarecrows who were apparently on break. Remember when we all carried around 35mm film cameras and practically no one took selfies because what a goddamn waste of film? Those were the days.

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Then Henry pouted because he didn’t want anything from the place Chooch and I chose to get food from, like he wasn’t grazing the entire time Chooch and I were on the rides. No one’s crying for you, Henry.

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CHOOCH: While we were in line for the Black Diamond, daddy was creeping on us and everybody else. He went on the side of the Black Diamond to look at the eagles, I guess. That’s what he said. Nobody else had a group of two and they needed a group of two for the coaster, and we were the only ones that had two and we got to line jump and it was so awkward. But I was happy because we actually got to go on quickly.

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CHOOCH: This lady was eating an apple and it was so awkward because she was creeping on people and I was laughing.

I only took this picture because I’m jealous of people who can eat apples without cutting them up first. SORRY THAT I WASN’T RAISED ON A FARM!!!!

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I know, it sucks to be at an amusement park!

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Oct 192014
 

We came to Elysburg, PA yesterday for Knoebel’s HalloFun, which was wonderful and I have many pictures to share later! Now we’re taking a roundabout way home so we can stop at Castle Blood, and I asked Henry if I should live blog since there is nothing else to do while in the car but argue. He said no, so that means yes.

9:40am: We just left Mom’s Dutch Kitchen, right across from our hotel. The world’s most miserable waitress works there and it was hard to forget her from last year when we ate there. She asked if we wanted coffee and I said yes, not thinking that she was going to bring Henry coffee too. HENRY HATES COFFEE. HENRY IS A COFFEE-HATING FASCIST. So then she kept eyeballing his untouched cup when she would walk by so I had to keep dumping some of it into mine because she is so fucking scary. Anyway, we’re en route to Punxsutawney. Chooch is mysteriously upset about this.

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10:00am: I mean, I can think of worse scenery to be stuck looking at all day.
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10:20am: Henry bought a bag of fresh roasted peanuts at Knoebel’s last night and left them in the car overnight so now it smells like nursing home farts in here, ugh.

Also, I saw an exit sign for Lamar and begged Henry to stopped there and in his typical indignant tone, he cried, “WHAT FOR?!” And I bluffed, “Because I heard good things about it?” First he said no and then realized he needed gas anyway so he took the exit and I was all excited until we realized we ate lunch here yesterday.

11:15am: “Hi” by Xiu Xiu just came on which threw me into a wild car-dancing spree, which is incomplete without manic finger-pointing in Henry’s face. That’s his favorite part.

11:40am: Just stopped at some ancient McDonalds so Chooch could get Monopoly things and I wanted coffee but then changed my mind when Henry was ordering so he got all pissed because apparently that was the only reason he stopped and then I got mad because Chooch is basically in the backseat eating lunch now when we were supposed to eat lunch in Punxsutawney and he didn’t even get Monopoly pieces!!!!! UGH!!

11:51am: Just passed an army convoy thing so I got all giddy because I like to barrage Henry with questions about military stuff and he always answers me like I’m someone who gives a shit. Anyway, I was like DO YOU THINK THERE ARE MORE ARMIES IN THE BACK? Henry said he doesn’t know, maybe. DO YOU THINK THEY’RE PLAYING CARDS AND LOOKING AT PLAYBOY? Henry just sighed, “Yeah sure, Erin.”
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12:25pm: Took a quick detour through DuBois because Roadside America told me to check out Dr. Doolittle’s Creamery and it was totally disappointing. Shitty ice cream (mine was supposed to be Tiramisu but just tasted like ‘cold wet’) and everything was just a pile of construction. But at least Chooch got to have his picture taken with Bigfoot. (And then Andy Gibb’s “Everlasting Love” came in the car as we were leaving so now I’m not angry anymore.)

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1:41pm: We’re in Punxsutawney, enjoying the plethora of ways Chooch keeps mispronouncing it. Saw Phil in his enclosed burrow thing but couldn’t get a decent picture. Walked along a nature trail at Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil’s shadow makes or breaks him once a year, and heard approximate 78 gunshots but Henry didn’t seem worried. The most exciting part for Henry was finding something new to obsess over. Move over moss!

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America, meet your new cat, er, groundhog:
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2:02pm: Stopped at County Market to get souvenir magnets, and I mistakenly called it CountRy Market so now Chooch will be riding me about this for weeks because god forbid…Anyway, the one lesson I learned there is that their bathroom is NOT A HOTEL:

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2:19pm: I’m ironically listening to some Sunday Super Gold program on one of the local radio stations and it’s all really corny music, obviously, but then some song came on about a hobo on a train and I was like “UGH THIS IS TERRIBLE-SOUNDING!” Turns out it was Joan Baez, who I can’t stand ever since last week when I watched some Woodstock documentary, so then it made sense because otherwise I would NEVER hate a song about a hobo on a train. God.

3:42pm: Stopped at Livermore to revisit the supposedly haunted cemetery after 10+ years since our last ridiculous visit. More on that later, but here’s some nature bullshit.

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5:55pm: Just left Jiojio’s, where we ate pizza that Chooch hates because he’s a weirdo. We decided to hide from Henry while he was still inside paying, because we haven’t hidden from him since last night at Knoebel’s, which backfired. Henry pretended like he knew we were hiding but I THINK HE IS LYING. Then I realized some elderly couple was walking through the parking lot and smiling at us because they probably they think we’re such a sweet family, HAHAHA.

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7:05pm: WE’RE AT CASTLE BLOOD, KBYE.

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Oct 052014
 

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The truth is, I have purposely been putting off writing the last installment of Riot Fest, because it feels like once I write it, then that’s it: Riot Fest is truly over. The whole weekend was so perfect to me, especially coming off the tail end of a summer that was emotionally draining, just a total black spot on the year. Maybe it seems like I’m being overly-dramatic, god knows that’s basically my default, but I’m serious when I say that my three days at Humboldt Park felt like a religious retreat, in the same way that some people climb mountains to escape their past, cast out their demons in sweat lodges, or rail a quadstack off a hooker’s ass in the back of a 1984 Pinto.

This is how I heal.

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The whole weekend was a collection of experiences and heart-clutching moments, stepping stones that paved the way to the culmination of my catharsis: The Cure.

As I mentioned in my last Riot Fest post, The Cure was scheduled to play the main stage at 7:45, so we made our way over there during Patti Smith’s 5:45 set in hopes of getting a decent spot.

My expectations were low. I even told Henry that I didn’t care if we ended up across the park by the food trucks. As long as I could hear The Cure (and not shitty Weezer who were going to be playing at the same time on a smaller stage), I was fine. Besides, I had been dragging Henry around like a rag doll all weekend, and I knew he probably wouldn’t want to be standing stock-still in the middle of 50,000 people at the end of the day.

Except that Henry grabbed my hand and pulled me further into the crowd during Patti’s set. Every time even the smallest gap would open ahead of us, he would continue to squeeze us in. And he kept doing this until we finally hit a wall of unbudging people. Still, I was impressed with his determination and how far it got us, so I wasn’t complaining!

After Patti was over at 6:45, people began leaving the Riot Stage, which opened up more spots, so Henry once again tgook  my hand and started weaving us closer to the stage. He got us to a really great spot, about 50 heads back from the stage. This was pretty remarkable, considering most people had been standing there all day in order to get a close spot.

Don’t tell him this, but Henry was kind of my hero that night.

Social Distortion began playing on the stage adjacent to us and I was so thankful that we got to listen a decent band for the next hour, because I was so full of anxiety waiting for The Cure, that I couldn’t imagine adding shitty music on top of that. Also during this time, we made friends with the people around us, like an older couple (Henry’s age, probably, haha) from St. Louis. The wife was really kind to me and even offered to take the above picture of me and Henry, which is why he’s smiling — because a stranger is taking the picture. She reminded me a little bit of my friend Natasha, who is also a rabid Cure fan, and I think that’s why I liked her so much.

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The view behind me. 

The only downside while waiting was the two middle-aged assholes in front of me, who spent the whole wait loudly talking about how they’re such seasoned music festival attendees, and how they saw The Cure last year at ACL and then the one guy, the one who was wearing a huge professional backpack that jutted so far from his back that it kept hitting me in the face, extracted a video camera with an extension stick thing and I was just like, “Oh great. And he’s a rock documentarian, too.”

I don’t think that’s a word.

Then they started making a big deal about passing a joint back and forth, like LOOK AT US, WE’RE OLD AND STILL SMOKE POT! and I honestly had to cup my hands in front of face in case I needed to catch my eyeballs when they rolled out of my head.

When I heard of one them mention Weezer’s upcoming set, it all made sense to me. Weezer fans. Of course.

My new friend from St. Louis pulled me closer to her so that dildo’s backpack wouldn’t hit me in the face anymore, and I thanked her profusely. She was also extremely good at blocking people from getting in front of us once The Cure started. We worked hard for our spots way before The Cure came on! You can’t expect to wait until after they start playing and just steamroll your way  through. Bitch, you gotta work for that shit.

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I like Social D just fine, but when they were still playing “Ring of Fire” at 7:45, I was like, “I FUCKING HATE YOU SOCIAL D! STFU! GO HOME!” And then Mike Ness kept screaming, “ONE MORE TIME!” and the crowd over at that stage would sing the fucking chorus ONE MORE TIME and it was so obnoxious and we were all getting super agitated.

So they went a few minutes over. It wasn’t the worst thing ever, but that was like an entire extra song that The Cure have played at the end of the night!

But as soon as the last note of “Ring of Fire” petered off into the air, the lights on the Riot Stage came on and the most beautiful sounds to ever have been crafted enveloped us all in such warm beauty. And then Robert walked on the stage and my hands flung up to my chest and basically stayed there for the next two hours, along with the burning lump in my throat and the stinging tears in my eyes.

The Cure, you guys. The motherfucking Cure. This was my fifth time, but it might as well have been my first. Seeing them will never lose its value to me.

I have never been the type of person who could separate herself from the show unfurling in front of her long enough to keep track of the set list. Luckily, I knew that Chain of Flowers (the best Cure fansite in the world) would have me covered.

  • Open
  • Fascination Street
  • Sleep When I’m Dead
  • Push
  • Inbetween Days
  • Play For Today
  • A Forest
  • Before Three
  • Lovesong
  • Just Like Heaven
  • From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
  • alt.end
  • Pictures of You
  • Lullaby
  • Close To Me
  • Hot Hot Hot
  • Wrong Number
  • The Caterpillar
  • The Walk
  • Mint Car
  • Friday I’m In Love
  • Doing the Unstuck
  • Bananafishbones
  • Want
  • Hungry Ghost
  • One Hundred Years
  • End.

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We were this close! Not bad for waiting until 6PM to stake out a spot!

Around 8:30, the idiots in front of me (who acted all smug as  they recounted all the times they’ve seen The Cure and the proceeded to just stand there like lumps once the show started…some fans they are) got their Riot Fest alert on their phones that OMG WEEZER was about to start over on the Revolt Stage, so they turned around and began pushing their way out of the crowd. I cheered and then moved up into their vacated spots, which came with a better view of my beloved Robert Smith.

Aside from those Weezer dorks, we were surrounded by true Cure fans. Those who knew all the words, knew to thrust their hands upward when Robert sang, “Put your hands in the sky” during From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, and who didn’t engage in banal discourse with their friends. I know that if we had stayed in the back, I would have been miserable and forced to listen to drunk assholes scream to each other about sports and god knows what else. Just like the miserable time I saw them at miserable Coachella, where drunk frat boys screamed out, “Play Just Like Heaven, Fat Bob!” and then booed every time deeper cuts were played instead. Fucking Americans. The Cure graces our country with their presence and this is how they’re treated. Coachella will always have such a sour connotation to me. The hipsters can have it.

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I can’t think of a better way this weekend could have ended. My favorite band in the whole entire world with my favorite person in the whole entire world (ugh fine, I’m referring to Henry and not Robert Smith). There’s no one else I would have rather experienced this with, no one else who understands how much this band and this music means to me.

When we first started to get to know each other back in 2000/2001, before we were dating, Henry made me a Cure screensaver. Totally out of the blue. I was like, “OK. You have my attention.” I know that The Cure headlining this festival is without a doubt the reason Henry didn’t say no to me.

And he actually said that this was his favorite part of Riot Fest and not because it signified that the end was near. He even displayed moderate levels of PDA throughout the night by placing his hands on my back!

From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea – Chicago, Riot Fest 14-Sep-2014 from itsaperfectday on Vimeo.

Thank you to this person ^^^ for recording this because my heart felt like it was about to combust inside my rib cage during this one. One of my all-time favorites, ow ow ow. 

There was supposed to have been an encore, but they ran out of time. Thanks, Social Distortion.

Even though I think this was the shortest of the 5 Cure concerts I’ve been to (clocked in at just over 2 hours), I have to say this one ranks #2 on my list. Right under Canberra, Australia for the Bloodflowers tour. It was the perfect crowd, the perfect ambiance, the perfect company and the perfect weekend. What else can I really say about it, short of copy/pasting every synonym for “heaven” and “perfect” and “emo” and “STFU Erin, we get it.”

****

“You know what would have made that weekend even more perfect?” I asked Henry on the way back to Pittsburgh the next day. “If you had proposed to me during The Cure. Way to go, you blew it.”

Because even during moments of extreme, euphoric perfection, I still manage to find the flaws. But I wouldn’t be me otherwise. Right?

RIGHT?!

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Oct 012014
 

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Shit. Before we even finished breakfast (that’s a word with which the Econo Lodge takes great liberties), I was already feeling that panicky “today is the last day” sensation percolating in my gut.

(I’m sure Henry was experiencing very different feelings. His was probably more of a giddy countdown.)

We accidentally found a fly-by-night event parking lot on our way to Humboldt Park the day before, so Henry decided THE HELL WITH UBER, we’re going to entrust our car with these people that are wearing neon construction vests so they must be legit.

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It took us three days to figure out there was an actual area where we were supposed to be waiting for our stupid Uber rides. 

The sketchy parking lot cost the same as a one-way trip with Uber, and it wasn’t my money Henry was using anyway, so what did I care. All I knew was that we were only two blocks away from my homeland and I couldn’t wait to get there.

And stand in line for an hour. Because even by the third day, the gatekeepers hadn’t gotten their shit together.

All three days, we were lucky to not get stuck by any assholes, at least. The guy in front of us, whom I dubbed Dwight Hader, because he reminded me of Dwight Schrute and Bill Hader, was there by himself. “I’m just here for Patti Smith and The Cure,” he said nervously. “Basically, I’m going to get all the way to the front of the stage for The Cure,” he told us of his Riot Fest plans.

“Were you here the other days, too? What was it like? What’s the food like? Is it expensive?”

“Do you think I’ll be able to take in my water?” he asked anyone who was listening.

He was very concerned with his unopened water bottle.

Would it be confiscated? Did he have to drink it all now? Because he wasn’t thirsty yet. He wanted that water for later, when he was raging to Patti Smith. BECAUSE THE NIGHT BELONGS TO WATER.

The girl behind me pointed out that empty water bottles were allowed in, because there were refilling stations. But she and I both said that probably an unopened bottle wasn’t a good idea. The girl’s boyfriend was like, “Eh, just do it. Smuggling in water is so punk rock, man.” And Henry was like “IDGAF what this kid does.”

Meanwhile, the couple behind me were talking about all of the ska bands that they had seen so far at Riot Fest and I was so thankful that I wasn’t there with them because ska is pretty much the only music genre that I flat-out dislike. There isn’t one ska band that’s redeemable to me. I’m sorry if you’re a ska fan. I promise we can still be friends. Just get those fucking trumpets out of my face. I DON’T EVEN LIKE THE JAMAICA SKA SCENE IN BACK TO THE BEACH AND THAT IS LIKE MY FAVORITE MOVIE.

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1. Whispering, “It’ll be alright, Water Bottle. We’ll figure something out.” 2. Googling “will I be detained for bringing an unopened water bottle into Riot Fest?” // “ways to make a water bottle in your pants look like a medical condition that security guards won’t ask about.” // “smuggling contraband into a music festival- WWJD?”

MENZINGERS

  • TheMenzingers were due to start playing a few minutes after the gates finally opened. (DwightHader and his unopened bottle of water made it through unscathed!) But we had enough time to hit up one oftheRiotFestmerch booths soIcouldfinallybuy the hoodie I wanted,whichofcoursewas sold out so I got all shitty about and ended up buying a t-shirt that I didn’t even want and then I proceeded to bitch about it on the way to the Roots Stage so Henry was like OMG I WILL FIND YOU A FUCKING HOODIE but apparently he said this to himself because I had no idea where he had gone off to, leaving me to stand alone with strangers by the stage. Then he returnedrightbeforetheMenzingers came out, and he had the hoodie I wanted, but then I was still mad because now I had a t-shirt and hoodie in the same design and that seemed so unnecessary so I threw another tantrum and then Henry was like I AM GOING TO COLD COCK  YOU but instead of doing that, he grabbed the t-shirt from me and stormed off and then the show started so I hadtowatchtheMenzingers by myself.
    • This was surprisingly the only time we fought all weekend.
    • I hated not knowing where he went/what he was doing/if he was coming back.
      • Every time I glanced behind me, I thought I saw him, but it was always one of the other 8700 guys wearing a blue flannel that day.
  • Even though I was quietly stewing over this hoodie/t-shirt emergency, I still found some room in my head and heart to enjoy the Menzingers. I only have a very base knowledge of them, thanks to my friend Terri, and since I know how much she loves them, I made a point to check them out. It was a good way to start the last day, because they got everyone pumped right out of the gates.
  • I texted Terri the lyrics to the one song they played that I really liked, and she was like, “That’s from their new album. That song is so emo!” Which totally explains why I liked it!
  • After their set ended,Ipanic-strickenly made my way through a moving wall of people, desperately looking for Henry, near tears (I HATE FEELING LOST), but then he grabbed my arm and I suddenly forgot that I was in the middle of hating him because YAY I’M NOT LOST ANYMORE!
    • “You were never lost,” he sighed. “I knewwhereyouwerethe whole time.”
      • In case you were wondering, Henry apparently exchanged the t-shirt for an XS for Chooch, which made me mad all over again because why the fuck would Chooch want a t-shirt from a festival he didn’t go to?! And to back this up, when we gave it to him, he was like, “Ok….?” and then right away noticed that one of the bands on the back of the shirt was Pity Sex, so then he was like, “REALLY, MOMMY?! REALLY?!” all annoyed and exasperated.

LAURA STEVENSON

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  • There was nothing on Sunday’s line-up that was OMG URGENT for me to see until Billy Bragg played around 2.
    • To Henry this meant: YAY LET’S GO FIND A TREE TO SIT UNDER FOR A FEW HOURS AND CLOSE OUR EYES AND HOPEFULLY DIE.
    • To me this meant: Let’s wander around and check out the other stages! We might find our new favorite band!
  • Of course, my plan won out and that is how we wound up at the Rise Stage in time for Laura Stevenson, who has an accordion player and is just the most adorable thing I saw on stage all weekend. I’m notoriously picky when it comes to girl singers, but her style was kind of old Tegan andSarameetsSherriDuPreefromEisley, in a way. I immediately adored her.
    • Especially when she pretty much announced every song as, “OK, this is a sad one.”
      • I love sad music.
      • Her music was the deceiving kind of sad though, where it sounds happy and upbeat but, no.
  • Laura’s between-song-banter was painfully awkward at times, which endeared her to me even more.
  • Fuck it, go listen to her on Spotify and then buy her albums!

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Henry’s mad because we were kind of matching. Also, I think this was right before La Dispute and he hates La Dispute.

THE FRONT BOTTOMS

  • Right after Laura was done playing, The Front Bottoms came on the adjacent Revolt Stage. This is another band that I have read and heard a lot about but just never bothered checking out. Since we still had a little bit of time to kill and the stage they were playing on was conveniently located near the one Billy Bragg would later be playing on, I dragged Henry through droves of lost locust-people and claimed a prime spot near the side of the stage.
  • And then they came on and proceeded to captivate us for their entire 30 minute set.
    • If you can win me over with your stage presence alone, then you’re doing it right.
    • If your music is good enough to back up your stage presence, then you’re golden.
  • I thought Henry hated them, but he admitted later that they were a high point for him.
    • Last week, I came home from meeting my friend Katrina for coffee, and Henry was flat out listening to them on xbox music. “SO WHAT?!” he cried in defense, like his mom just busted him watching tranny bukakke.
  • They reminded me a little bit of Never Shout Never for grown-ups, so I wondered if Chooch would like them too. Spoiler: he does.
  • My favorite part was when Tiny Moving Parts stormed the stage and started fucking with them. I LOVE IT WHEN BANDS ARE FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER.

BILLY BRAGG

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  • WhenIsawBillywas listed on the line-up, I died a little of excitement. This guy is a living legend and I made Henry get right up front for him.
    • We were surrounded by a lot of Older People so I thought Henry would feel safe.
  • In high school, I dated this real piece of shit. Pretty much everyone called him Psycho Mike, because well, that’s what you call a guy who intentionally sets his best friend’s house on fire (thankfully,whilethe whole family was on vacation, but still) all over a video game.
    • Yes, I knew this going in to things, but warning labels don’t ever deter me.
    • Anyway, Psycho Mike and I didn’t have much in common, musically. I would cringe when he would play Anal Cunt in his car and even though I bought him the Misfits boxed set for Valentine’s Day one year, I made it clear that I didn’t want to listen to it. We would meet in the middle with classic rock mostly, but occasionally he would play things for me that I actually liked. Some of those things were: Neutral Milk Hotel, Hayden, and Billy Bragg.
  • Billy Bragg is a British folk/punk singer-songwriter who sings a lot about politics, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is just something about him that has always appealed to me. I thought Henry would be all about him too, since Billy is known to sing in favor of all those blue-collared blokes like Henry. But Henry was just like “eh” when I asked him if he enjoyed it, which basically means Henry is clearly a fascist.

  20140928-123525.jpg Henry not understanding why everyone was all FUCK YES during Billy Bragg.

  • My favorite Billy Bragg songs are “Must I Paint You a Picture,” “St. Swithin’s Day,” “She’s Got a New Spell,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “A New England,” none of which he played, but he did play my ALL TIME FAVORITE which is “The Milkman of Human Kindness” and the 17-year-old slut-who-was-fucking-around-with-a-psychopath-in-1996 in me was so stoked.
  • Billy also made me super stoked about Scotland, which I had otherwise not really thought about at all because it’s basically me and my music under a rock. But on this day, I was like, “YAYSCOTLAND! GO GET ‘EM!” And then suddenly I understoodwhysomemenhad been walking around Humboldt Park all weekend in kilts and carrying Scottish flags.
    • I catch on quick.

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  • Might sound extreme, but getting to see Billy Bragg live was a milestone for me. I have literally waited half my life! This man is a living legend. Familiarize yourself with him.

TINY MOVING PARTS

  • On our way to the Rock Stage, immediately after Billy Bragg, we got to catch a little bit of Tiny Moving Parts.
  • Henry said he doesn’t remember this happening at all. I think he might have been buying more cheese-on-sticks and beer?
  • TMP iskindoflikeneo-emo I guess? It’s definitely a sound that I really adore. And they are really energetic and passionate on stage, which is what made me stop mid-trek to the Rock Stage and say to Henry, “They are calling to me.”
    • I like them way more live than listening to them, say, while driving to the dentist or writing in my blog.

LA DISPUTE

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A rare moment where Henry got to sit for a few minutes until the girl next to him annoyed him to such extreme levels that he suddenly didn’t care about resting his weary joints anymore and actually stood up and moved. And no, surprisingly, that girl wasn’t me. 

  • I let Henry stand far away for La Dispute because he can’t stand them. But I was like, “See ya, sucker” and elbowed my way through the crowd along the side of the stage until I was nearly to the front. I stopped right before I hit prime crowd-surfing / circle pit real estate. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that deep down, I have some fragments of the “Sensible Mom” gene and I remember to keep myself safe.
    • Otherwise, I just feel like I would be such a great candidate for Idiot Who Broke Her Neck At a Show.
  • Have you ever listened to La Dispute? They are a part of a music genre that I am in love with. Like, if I could mold it into a penis, I would fuck it. It’s technically post-hardcore, and Jordan Dreyer shouts and barks the lyrics with so much emotion, that it’s, for me, the equivalent of listening to some kind of passionate Sunday sermon. Their songs tell stories that make the hair grow erect on my arms and I spent most of the time standing there with my eyes closed and, at times, wishing I had a wall in front of me to punch. There’s an urgency to the music and the way the vocals are delivered that make me feel uncontrollably aggressive. And then….sad.
  • When they played “King Park,” we all went fucking nuts.  This song is about a shooting and all of the elements and emotions surrounding it, and it is raw, devastating, angry, sad, honest—this song is REAL LIFE. The way they build up to the crescendo of this song, OMFG—it’s like climaxing for real.  Jordan started hoarsely shouting “Can I still get into Heaven if I kill myself?” and that’s when I realized that I had been crying through the whole fucking thing.

  • “Wasn’t that fucking amazing!?” I cried afterward, reunited with Henry. “Not really,” he mumbled.
  • I walked away feeling like I could start a revolution. Or at the very least, make a REALLY GOOD POSTER about MAYBE starting a revolution.

TEGAN AND SARA

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  • I first saw Tegan and Sara in the year 2000 at now-defunct club in Pittsburgh called Rosebud. I didn’t know anything about them but my friend Wonka was like, “I heard one of their songs on WYEP. PLEASE GO WITH ME!” Wonka was my prime concert-buddy back then, and we went to tons of shows where we barely knew who we were seeing, plus I was buying my ticket with my AmEx that my mom paid for, so why not? It was us and maybe 40 other people and I think Tegan and Sara walked away with all of our hearts that night. They were VERY different than they are now, way more stripped down, way less pop. But their stage banter was just as on point. We got to meet them that night and I still look at that picture, of these twins who look so different now, and I laugh because I remember saying to Wonka, “Holy shit, these girls are going to explode!”
  • They were playing on the main stage at Riot Fest to some tens of thousands of people, so I’d say that they definitely exploded.
  • I didn’t want to get too close because I knew we were going to have to split before they were done, and I didn’t want to make our exit any more difficult than it needed to be, so we stood pretty far away. The problem with that is that the further away you stand, the more likely you are to surround yourself with people who couldn’t give a fuck what band is playing, they’re just going to stand there and brag about what college their daughter is going to. Sometimes old people are WAY WORSE at shows than young people.
  • The first time Henry saw Tegan and Sara was with me in 2002/2003 at the Hard Rock Cafe. He didn’t know anything about them but it didn’t take him long to realize that he was a man in a roomful of lesbians. At one point, he tried to go to the bathroom, but a girl with a shaved, rainbow-tattooed head was blocking his way (not even menacingly! she didn’t know she was in his way!), so he turned around and came back. I think about this EVERY TIME I hear a Tegan and Sara song. GOOD TIMES.
  • And before you’re like “Tegan and Sara are so Top 40,” please watch this video:

  • Sure, they’re mainstream now but I will always believe that they still have a little bit of that quaint singer-songwriter ethic that they did when they were teenagers. I just love them.

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Never had time to play Riot Putt. :( Or go through the Zombie Contamination Unit. Or ride any rides. Or see the sideshows. TOO MANY BANDS. 

 MINERAL

  • We cut out of Tegan and Sara in order to run back to the Rock Stage just in time to see Mineral, who have recently gone on tour for the first time in 17 years. I’m so happy Riot Fest was on the super-shortlist of shows they were doing, because god knows Pittsburgh was nowhere on that list.
  • MineralisstraightupEMO.
    • I fucking love emo.
  • Mineral broke up in 1997, before I ever had a chance to see them. The singer went on to form The Gloria Record, another band that I fucking loved so hard but never got to see live. Henry claims he has no absolutely no recollection of a band called The Gloria Record and I was like “ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID, I LISTENED TO ONE OF THEIR ALBUMS COMPULSIVELY IN 2005!” Then I even played him my favorite song (“Good Morning, Providence” — if you look at my Spotify sidebar, it’s actually the second song listed in my “Perennial Favorites” playlist, COME ON HENRY) and he was like, “Nope. Don’t know it.” That man is a master of tuning things out.
  • However, Henry admitted that Mineral was “pretty good.” The whole time I was just standing there in awe, thinking of how grateful I was to get to see them after all this time. So grateful that I almost wrote an emo poem about it.

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PATTI SMITH

  • After Mineral, we decided that we should probably make our way back to the Riot Stage because if we waited too close to The Cure’s start time, we would never be able to get close enough. Patti Smith was playing at the time, so we pushed our way through the outskirts of a crowd of aging hippies screaming along to “Because the Night.”
  • If it wasn’t for the sake of the Cure, I never have would have stopped to watch her. I’m sure that makes me something of a heathen to a lot of people. I can definitely respect her! I understand the mark she’s left on not only the music industry but also the political landscape. She’s a living, breathing legacy. I get it. And while it’s not particularly my thing, I am definitely glad that I can say “I saw Patti Smith.”
  • She is old as shit but fuck if she wasn’t rocking the shit out of that stage.
  • There were men older than Henry standing around us who were screaming “PATTI!!!” so fiercely, I feared that they were going to hemorrhage.
  • In between every song, Patti would stand on her soapbox and promise us that we can change the world. “PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!” she kept shouting and everyone screamed so loudly that they turned into South Park Canadians.
  • By the time her set was over, I definitely didn’t feel like I could change the world, but I would have liked to have changed into a pair of more comfortable shoes.

I’m going to end this here because I’ve been writing it for four days and I want The Cure to have their own post. Because they’re the motherfucking Cure.

If you’ve read any of these word-dumps, I am eternally grateful (and extremely shocked)!

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Sep 242014
 

Staying true to our chronic unpreparedness, Henry and I arrived at Humboldt Park Friday afternoon wearing newly-purchased raincoats from Target because we stupidly failed to account for a weather forecast that clearly stated 50 degrees and rain.

It started raining before we even made it to the main entrance. And then basically never let up. TGFRC.

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The whole time we were walking to the entrance, my heart felt like it was going to explode. Henry kept telling me to slow down but I was like YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH! My god, I waited months for this day! I couldn’t wait a minute longer to be among my people. I was so giddy, it was scary.

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The tickets said that the gates opened at 2pm but of course that was all a sack of lies. We were among the first 100 or so in line, so at least when they FINALLY opened up around 3pm, we pretty much had the run of the place until later in the day, when the less hardcore fans started showing up. There were already bands playing on 4 stages by time we collected our bearings and scoped out the layout. And admittedly had a fight because I was apparently looking at the map upside down and kept telling Henry he was wrong about everything. But then I realized that Circa Survive was playing on the Riot Stage (the main stage! Because they rule!) in less than a half hour, so I dragged him through mud and made him stand all the way in the front, which he hates. While we waited for Circa, we got to catch the last few Title Fight songs on the nearby Roots Stage, so that was nice.

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It looked like this for a few hours until about a million more people showed up. Then it looked like this with about a million more people. And mud. Because the more people, the more mud, y’all. And guess what your girl was wearing?

TOMS.

Like an amateur! I don’t know what I was thinking. But I also wasn’t wearing socks so that was really great by the time the temperature dipped into the low 40s.

CIRCA SURVIVE

  • This girl was standing in front of me while we were waiting for Circa to come on and she kept making intense eye contact with me and then raising her eyebrows and I was like WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, STOP. And of course, out of the estimated 160,000 fans in attendance that weekend, I saw her repeatedly.

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  • What a way to start off the weekend. A Circa Survive set in the cold, drizzling rain with a shit ton of people. It was fantastic and Anthony was stomping around the stage like your basic psychopath.
  • During “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is the Dose,” Anthony jumped off the stage and started smearing mud on people’s faces and I was like OMG I WANTMUDDED BYANTHONY! But we were over too far. Even Henry KIND OF smiled when he saw what was going on. (Surprisingly, he actually watches even though he doesn’t like any of these bands. Although, he found some winners that weekend! We’ll get to that later.)
    • Here is a video that I pulled from Instagram from user elizabeth__edens. I was standing near the guy in the yellow rain poncho; too far away for Anthony to reach:

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  • I’m not sorry, Anthony Green is a fucking scene godfather at this point in the game. I have so much respect for him, it’s disgusting. (Henry wishes I had that much for him, haha.) Here is a man who kicked a drug addiction, married the woman who stood by his side through it all, created a beautiful family with her (two little boys and another baby on the way!), and somehow manages to juggle more than one musical project at a time with panache. AND HE’S A NICE GUY. Jonny Craig should take some pointers from him.
  • I kept thinking, “I’m watching Circa Survive instead of being at work. My life ain’t so bad.”
    • Henry kept thinking, “I’m watching Circa Survive instead of being at work. My life fucking sucks.”
      • But we all know he would have internally been like FUCK YES if Anthony had rubbed mud into his grisly beard.

EMAROSA

  • Immediately after Circa wrapped up, we had to run over to the Rise Stage, where Emarosa was going to start at 5:00. I had major heart palpitations while waiting, OMG. I love these fucking guys so much.
  • As they usually do, Emarosa started their set with a long, dramatic lead-in until Bradley finally ran onto the stage and basically puked up his soul for all of us. I honestly couldn’t take my eyes off him, it was pretty pathetic.
  • I don’t think I ever used the cat-with-heart-eyes emoji as much as I did during their set.

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  • Bradley Scott Walden > Jonny Craig.

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  • Some Jonny Craig sycophant tweeted that she stayed for one song and then had to walk away because “new Emarosa is just so terrible, like a joke. They should just quit.” And then of course Jonny retweeted her. I was still OMG JONNY CRAIG4L when Emarosa released their first single with Bradley, and even I was able to honestly admit that they struck gold with this new guy.
  • They played A Hundred Crowns and I don’t think I took a single breath during it. Flawless.
  • I asked Henry repeatedly, all weekend long, if he thought they were good and his answer every time was yes. HENRY SAID YES.

FAILURE

  • Gah, you guys. I love Failure, but they broke up in 1997 and I was too busy being a yo-girl then to know they existed until I went through a pretty heavy phase in my early 20s where I was obsessed with Ken Andrews. So, the closest I ever came to seeing Failure was when Ken’s other band, Year of the Rabbit, opened for A Perfect Circle in 2003. But fuck, Failure’s “Fantastic Planet” was (and still is!) such a solid album. I used to call Henry “Sergeant Politeness” all of the time, after one of their songs. (With a heavy dose of sarcasm, of course.)

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  • The huge problem with festivals is that it’s impossible to see every band because there are so many stages. (Riot Fest had SEVEN.) And of course the universe was against me in putting Failure up against Emarosa. Luckily, there was enough overlap that I was able to bolt back to the main stage from the Rise stage in time to see/hear the last three songs, once of which was The Nurse Who Loved Me, which is my all-time favorite Failure song.
  • Unfortunately, since their set already started and they were playing on the main stage, the above picture illustrates how close we were able to get, haha. I mean, we could have attempted to fight our way through the crowd of two stages (the Roots stage is just out of sight on the lefthand side of that photo, so a lot of that crowd was actually waiting for the next band that was about to take that stage), but I just wanted to be able to focus on the music and not elbowing my way though a wet, miserable crowd.

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  • Here is a picture of what my feet looked like during Failure. What kind of shitty blogger would I be if I didn’t include gratuitous shoe shots.

FROM INDIAN LAKES

  • It was a happy accident that we got to catch this set. After Failure, I checked the schedule and deemed that it was a safe time to get food, because there were no must-sees. So I grabbed a Thai tofu wrap and then wandered over to the Revolt Stage while Henry was busy finding something for himself to eat. (He has to take care of me first.) I had heard of From Indian Lakes, but not heard them, you know? So I didn’t even know who was playing until I consulted my app.

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  • I was feeling them right from the start, but then they played this song, and I was like FUCK YES:

PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH

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  • I’ve liked these guys for some time now but this was my first time seeing them (although, I’ve seen their bassist and drummer play with United Nations) and they blew me away. The style of post-hardcore that they play has quickly become one of my favorites, the lyric-delivery is emotional but somehow even more urgent (like with Touche Amore and La Dispute, the latter of which I would get to see the next day and thought my heart was going to explode). I would put them high up on my Riot Fest highlight reel, and I’m even more stoked to see them open for Circa Survive in December.
  • Henry was like, “meh.” He haaaaaaaaates this genre of music so bad, you have no idea. Which is why he is not going to the aforementioned show in December. WHICH IS IN PHILLY WHICH MEANS I’M GOING WITH TERRI AND CHRISTIAN!!

MASTODON

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  • I sacrificed Mastodon for Pianos Become the Teeth, and I stand by that decision. However, we made it to the Rise Stage in time to catch the tail end of their set on the nearby Rebel Stage. It was really raining hard by then and for some reason, three separate groups of people approached me to get directions to other stages/inquire who was playing next on the Rise Stage, all of which I shockingly knew the answers to because this is my wheelhouse, you guys. So it was OK that people were seemingly mistaking me for an official Riot Fest attendant. Maybe I have a future career, after all.

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One of the two ferris wheels.

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Mud.

OF MICE & MEN

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  • I’ve seen these guys so many times at Warped Tour, so I could have easily swapped them out for someone else, but truth be told, there wasn’t anyone else playing at that time that I really cared about. And besides, these guys inflate my soul and make me feel like I can do ANYTHING. BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN ME.
  • Henry was miserable at this point. It was like 8:00 and fucking colder than Sarah Palin’s heart.
    • He made it to the second song before mumbling about going to “stand over there.” I didn’t even look to see where he was pointing, because his exodus meant that I was free to move closer to the stage, woo!

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  • Admittedly, this is not a band whose albums I rush out to buy when they’re released. Actually, I rarely even listen to them at home. But I goddamn love them live. Austin Carlile is so charismatic and he just makes me feel so pumped and like I’m 16 again, and that who gives a fuck if my TOMS get even more ruined, I’m going to fucking jump around in this mud with everyone else.

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  • Henry said he thinks Austin Carlile seems like a dick, so we fought about that later.
  • This was a great end to the first day.

It was 8:30 by the time OM&M were over. I think the only two bands remaining that night were Jane’s Addition and Rise Against, but I’m not into either of them enough to endure any more time in the freezing rain. I honestly think it was briefly snowing at one point, and I promise there is no hyperbole usage there.

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We passed some of the zombies from the haunted house on the way out. Then we took Uber back to the hotel and spent the next hour trying to warm up.

Here is a little video compilation from Day One. WATCH IT OR NOT, I DON’T CARE!

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Sep 192014
 

riotfeast_chicago_new

The aptly-named “Riot Feast” food vendor list.

When we go to Warped Tour, I usually smuggle in some granola bars because:

1. Food there is exorbitantly-priced

2. There are basically no options for vegetarians. It’s burgers and chicken strips or GTFO.

I was pretty worried about the food sitch at Riot Fest, since we’ve never gone to it before. But apparently, this year’s Riot Fest was the biggest one yet, so I don’t think a lot of people really knew what they were in for it. Which was: food trucks for daaaaays. It was the best of the county fair and local staples all lined up on one street and even the options for vegetarians and vegans were downright staggering. There was so much for even me to eat that I was sad I ran out of time!

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We honestly had no time at all to do any tourist-y things in Chicago (it was literally: get up, stand in line, watch amazing bands for 10 hours, go back to the hotel and crash), so it was really awesome to still get to eat like we were vacationing in the city. And we could see the city skyline from Humboldt Park, so there was that, too.

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Riot Fest didn’t start until 2pm on Friday, so we only ate once that day. Henry had some sickening duck sausage contraption and I had a fucking fat Thai-tofu wrap. This bitch was goddamn rotund, all distended from the gluttonous amounts of tofu and vegetables rammed into that sturdy wrap. It was cold and raining when I got it, and I ate it like a hobo in a snowstorm: double-fisted, jacket sleeves half-covering my hands, hood pulled up over my face, like I hadn’t eaten since that day 6 weeks ago when someone threw a can of anchovies at my forehead. I kept talking about how good it was, but really I’m not sure if I was even able to recognize tastes and flavors at that point of the day, because the weather was so miserable and we were exhausted and overwhelmed by hordes of people. But I sure as fuck felt 1000% better after that was able to quickly go back to dictating which stage we needed to slip-and-slide to through the mud.

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The thought of drinking coffee at Warped Tour makes my belly ache. But last weekend at Riot Fest, the temperature fluctuated between 40-65 degrees. Coffee was welcome. Especially on Friday when it was so cold and wet that I’m not sure it wasn’t actually snowing at one point, but the line for Dark Matter was Cedar Point-levels of long. We actually couldn’t even find where it ended because there were so many people everywhere, that food lines just kind of snaked around in no real order and then disappeared into the masses. So I did my standard JUST FORGET IT!!! foot-stamp and went back to shivering beneath my flimsy, lightly-lined windbreaker. It was OK though, because I hit it up the next day before a line formed and it was delicious. Coffee is such an efficient attitude-adjuster. Henry can attest to that.

The only gripe I have is that Dark Matter apparently teamed up with the band Mastodon to make a limited edition blend that’s aged in bourbon whiskey barrels. Mastodon was playing Friday night, so I feel like this would have been an obvious thing to have available. But I know that I will be ordering a bag online, at least!

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THIS CHEESE, YOU GUYS. THIS CHEESE WAS EVERYTHING. The menu:

Queijio de Coalho Brazilian-style Grilled Cheese on a Stick:
Original w/ black rum maple syrup
Hatch Chile w/ hot pepper jelly
Garlic w/ mojo de ajo
Smoked Bacon w/ pineapple chipotle

The Hatch Chile was my favorite. Also, I liked it better when I thought their name was Drunkow.

Over the course of the weekend, we had each of the top three. Surprisingly, Henry didn’t get the smoked bacon one for himself, unless that’s what he was doing one of the 8298374892759093245 times he slipped away to “pee.”

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Ugh, I wish I was eating this damn stick-cheese right now. I CAN STILL TASTE IT IF I SQUEEZE MY EYES SHUT TIGHT ENOUGH.

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I also buried my face into an arepa on Saturday, which is like a savory corn cake and mozzarella, cooked on a griddle. I miss arepas. I want more arepas. Fuck the pie party, let’s have an arepas affair. (Thank god Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen is focused on Venezuela right now because I’m going to eat the ever-loving shit out of some arepas this weekend.)

At some point on Saturday, I also inhaled a bowl of sweet coconut rice loaded with fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, so I was in a pretty mild mood. (Henry thanks you, food trucks.)

(And this is not to mention all the STRONGBOW I chugged all weekend too. Strongbow is my favorite cider in the whole entire world, and pretty much nothing was going to bring me down with that shit in my system. Not even the $7 Henry had to continually hand over for beverage tickets.)

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On Sunday, I finally grabbed a grilled cheese from the Cheesie’s truck I had my eye on all weekend. I got the only one that didn’t have MEAT on it, the Caprese. A grilled cheese is no longer a grilled cheese once you start desecrating it with meat, I’m sorry. Those sandwiches need to have another name. (No offense to my carnivore bros out there.) It didn’t matter though because my Caprese was wonderful and it came with a small tub of pesto mayo, of which I made sure to scrape clean and I didn’t give a fuck who was looking. Pesto is the shit.

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I also had more stick-cheese, and also a roasted red pepper and goat cheese tamale from Dia De Los Tamales, which was so good that I wish I had ordered more than one. I’m such a food-ordering fuck-up. At some point, we also ordered some baos from Wow Bao (mine was vegetable wheat, Henry’s was who cares) and they too, like everything else lined up in that park, were a mini riot fest for the mouth.

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I think Henry ordered something from Big Pork, but I was way too involved in my own masticating to give his stuffed maw even a glance. I wanted him to get a Chubby Wiener just so I could tell Facebook that Henry was eating a chubby wiener but he “wasn’t in the mood for a hot dog” and I was like “Who said anything about a hot dog?”

Oh and we split a peach and bourbon hand pie from Blue Sky Bakery! I liked it but Henry wasn’t impressed, probably because it cost $4 and was really small. Every time we walked past their cart that weekend, I swear their menu kept growing and I wanted to eat it all. But….bands > food.

Oh, but we didn’t gain a single pound*. I estimated that we probably only sat down for a total of 30 minutes a day (and by “day,” I mean a Riot Fest day, which was approx. 10:30am-10:00pm; Friday was only about 12:30-9:00, though). The rest of the time was all walking, standing, running (for me), bouncing (for me). I found out afterward that it was about a mile’s distance from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage. Contrary to the map below, there was no way to cut across the park other than following the road along the perimeter.

Which, by the way, didn’t connect into a full circle. All the water was fenced off and the road going through the middle wasn’t accessible. It was also nearly impossible to cut through the grassy areas to get to each stage, because there were ridiculously-placed VIP sections blocked off and as the days on, the population around each stage had become so dense that the only way to cut through was to put your head down and charge. It’s a miracle that Henry and I never became separated. Can you imagine? I would probably still be in Humboldt Park, laying behind a porta-potty in the fetal position.

riotfestmap

I wish I had worn my pedometer, because it would have been interesting to see how many miles we walked each day. Saturday especially had us going from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage more times than I would have preferred. (And one of those times, I ran most of the way because during Television’s set on the Rise Stage, I realized we were cutting it close for Saosin on the Rock Stage and I needed to BE UP FRONT FOR THAT SHIT.

So, I ran.

Henry did not run. But I was wearing a bright orange Epitaph backpack so he said he knew where I was at all times. Like I’m his child.

Thank god for accidental exercise.

*(There was a funnel cake truck there that probably would have made this statement untrue had I caved and indulged in one. Each one basically had the contents of an entire dessert cart balancing on a bed of funnel cake. AND I SAW BRADLEY SCOTT WALDEN FROM EMAROSA IN LINE FOR ONE ON SATURDAY AND ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK!!!!!)

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Sep 182014
 

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That’s a lot of people. 

You know that feeling you get after you go to a really fucking amazing show, that sinking pit you fall into once the adrenaline and euphoria wears off? That emotionally-crippling post-show depression? If you give even a tiny turd about music, you know what I’m talking about.

This is the hardest and farthest I’ve fallen post-show. All three days of Riot Fest were like a fucking fairy tale for me; and I mean all of the good parts, no poison apples or trolls under bridges.  It hit me really hard this morning. I came into work and slammed my purse down, sighing heavily. Glenn asked me in his standard non-caring monotone, “What’s wrong.” I HAVE POST-SHOW DEPRESSION, I cried. “OK. You can still listen to their music, you know” was his dumb, non-helpful advice.

OMG THAT’S NOT THE POINT UGH. You don’t think I haven’t been obsessively YouTubing Riot Fest performances, GLENN?!

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I have so much to write about. The bands, obviously. But just the whole atmosphere, the sketchy Uber rides, the FOOD OMG THE FUCKING FOOD — there is so much I want to tell you guys! I’ve been on the verge of exploding every day at work because I want to talktalktalk about it so much but no one carescarescares!

But before I even get started, there’s something totally painful that I need to do: I need to thank Henry on this space. Because aside from buying the tickets (literally the only thing I did), Henry took care of every last minutia to make this past weekend a reality for me. Even though he hates this shit and hates spending money and hates crowds of music fans and hates standing around all day, Henry did all of this for me and I am pretty overwhelmed by it all. I mean, not that Henry doesn’t normally do anything for me, but this was something that I honestly thought he was going to say “Fuck no!” to. I mean, when I asked him three months ago if we could go, I actually laughed a little bit because it didn’t seem like something he would ever say yes to.

It just meant so much to me. I’m a pretty lucky broad. And even though Henry frowned a lot (like in this picture, where he was frowning because we matched), we barely fought at all (and the few times we did, it was because I missed my last feeding), he admitted on the way home that he had “a little” fun. It’s going to be hard to top Riot Fest.

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I mean, unless WE GO AGAIN NEXT YEAR?!?! HENRY?!!??!

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Sep 152014
 

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Almost home from Chicago. Brought lots of dried mud with us. No liveblogging this go-around because I’m emotionally drained and too busy jawing off to Henry about all of my favorite parts of the last three days (like, everything) and you guys, he admitted that he had a little bit of fun!

This weekend started with Circa Survive and ended with The Cure. My head is still spinning. This made up for all the unicorns I asked for and never got. I have the best boyfriend ever and I guess I’ll let him be my #mcm. #blessed <–no really, for real this time.

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Sep 142014
 

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“Thinking About How Bad My Day is Going to Suck” frown.
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“Waiting For Uber to Take Me to Hell” frown.
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“Didn’t We Just See Circa Survive in July?” frown.
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“8 Minutes ’til Emarosa” frown.
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“Don’t Take My Cheese Fries, It’s All I’ve Got” frown.
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“Not Understanding How People Like Bands Like Pianos Become The Teeth” frown.
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“I’m Cold & Wet & Standing with this Annoying Person & I Hope My Mustache Doesn’t Get Frizzy” frown.
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“Still Hate of Mice & Men” frown.
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“Just Started Day 2 & I’m Already Frowning Because Day 1 Taught Me How Much This Will Suck” frown.
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“I Paid $7 For This Beer; The Numbing Sensation I Feel Is Priceless” half-frown.
20140914-090146.jpg “Waiting for Rx Bandits; They’re Going To Suck” frown.
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This is a collection of Henry-frowns from the first two days of Riot Fest. I’m sure many more will be inspired today!

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