Over the weekend, Full Blown Chaos frontman Ray Mazzola checked in from the road again with his second column for Gun Shy Assassin. This week, Ray paints a picture so vivid of something so vile, you’re going to feel like you were there yourself.
The one thing that I have always loved about touring is getting up early, having some needed alone time and drinking coffee. That is pretty much what I am doing at the moment. Gives me a chance to clear my head and prep for the day ahead. The past 12 hours have been quite interesting…
Rocked out in Nashville, Tennessee, last night. The overtone was intensity mixed with strain being we were late to the show after a 12-hour drive. Decided to drive out of town and find a hotel to hold up for the night. Got a room at the cheapest place in Hurricane Mills. For those who do not know, Hurricane Mills is the home of Loretta Lynn’s ranch. After killing the various wildlife in the room, the six of us got down on some serious Zzz’s. There isn’t a touring band in the world that hasn’t turned a hotel room into a virtual clown car.
I’m restless from being in a real piss poor mood. I don’t know if it was just crankiness from the drive or being forced to listen to City and Colour for what seemed like an eternity. I don’t sleep well. Ever. So I am up at the ass crack of dawn. Our merch guy is snoring like he is getting paid for it. I throw my shoes on and step out into the crisp morning air and am totally revitalized. There is nothing like that first deep breath of brisk country goodness. I get my stretch on and make my way over to the front desk to scavenge for something edible and coffee. I love my coffee.
On my way through the complex I notice an open door. TV is on full blast. All you hear is “SATURDAY PRAISE! 7 P.M.!” and something else. The something else are the inhabitants of Room 106 going heels to Jesus. I laugh to myself and keep going. I get to the front desk and its a virtual ghost town. No movement outside. Real still. Almost spooky. I go in and the “CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST” is half a loaf of bread, butter, jelly, a bowl of fake fruit, a box of Coco-Roos, Tutti-Fruttis and coffee. JACKPOT! COFFEE!!!
There is maybe a drop left in the pot and I couldn’t care. I love my coffee. The pot is old and stained. Something smells stale in here. Might be the bread. Or the walls. This hotel is old. I pour the remainder of the pot into a cup and sit back facing my room and the rooms I had walked passed. I take a sip and am totally blind sided by how amazing it is! It is rich and bold and full of flavor. Probably the best cup of coffee I have ever had in my life. I lean back and enjoy another sip and I can see the occupants of Room 106 staggering out into the lot. It goes from rustic town to zombie land in two seconds.
The dude sees me in the office and makes a bee-line over and he lights a smoke and stumbles out of eye shot. He comes around and pushes passed the glass doors and says “Good morning.” He walks back behind the desk, fixes his thin greasy hair in the reflection of the clock on the wall and asks if I need anything. I ask him if he is the one who made the coffee cause if he was, he deserves a raise. He laughs and exposes an empty maw that would make any child brush for life. Scurvy or…he’s rail thin. Smells of old cigarette smoke. Turns out he made the coffee. Did I mention I love my coffee???
So he makes his way to the coffee maker and starts a fresh pot. He asks if I tried to eat the fruit and laughs again. He opens a cabinet and reveals a stash of apples and oranges. He goes about his business for a few more minutes and I get some of the fresh brewed joe. It is even better than the last cup. He comes and sits at the table with me and asks if I mind that he joins me. I oblige. Im stirring sugar into my cup and he pulls this paper bag to his chest and pulls out a McRib container.
“My old lady got this yesterday and I forgot to eat it.” He introduces himself. “I’m Carl. I handle most of the housekeeping here. We don’t usually have many guests that stay ‘til the morning so no one watches the desk until from 5 to 9.” I can understand why with the critters and all. He continues to tell me that he lives in the hotel in exchange for the clean up services and that he gets to have at the continental breakfast, which is usually his only meal. So this McRib is a treat, to say the least. The look on his face is similar to that of the average person on Thanksgiving when the turkey takes main stage. Wide eyed and full of anticipation.
He lays into this cold McRib like it was going to save his life. If I wasn’t in shock I would have taken a picture. There are onions and sauce all over. It’s a waking nightmare. Like looking into hell itself. I can’t tell where gums start and sandwich ends. It sounds like chow time on the farm. It takes him about five minutes to gum his way through it all and he is covered in barbecue. He sighs in relief and rolls his eyes up towards the ceiling while shaking his head. “Man that was good eating!” Lets out a huge belch then “Back to work!” Gets up, says it was a pleasure talking to me and walks out.
I have now seen everything. Despite the mental imagery that is forever burned into my mind, he was a nice guy. I get up to turn and leave and I see a sign that catches my eye. It says “DON’T QUIT” on the heading followed by scripture. Makes me smile. Sometimes the littlest things that most will see as trivial or meaningless are monuments of achievement and full of personal experience. Random encounters that occupy the space of time that it takes to drink a cup of coffee is worth its weight in gold.
As my buddy Chuck said earlier and I quote, “The McRib is a hell of a drug.”
Don’t ever quit Carl. I know I’m not going to.