May 29, 2008

Reports From The Road by Bryan Devendorf (Post #5)

With both words and photographs, Bryan Devendorf continues to document The National's North American tour opening for REM and Modest Mouse. So far, we've read of Vancouver, Seattle, Bend, and somewhere in California en route to San Diego; we've heard tales of bus troubles, kick-ass rain gear, and Memorial Day basketball with Pabst; we've learned about naughty words, biker gangs, and Dave the substitute trumpet player. So much information, so many thoughts divulged, and the tour has hardly begun. What more could Bryan possibly have to say? Plenty. To see for yourself, read below:

DAY FIVE (5/27): You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave...

Wake at six a.m. in a hotel room on the eastern limits of Sacramento. Such a lovely place. Packing up, I realize my sunglasses are MIA, left behind at the sushi bar. Oblivious and complacent on fish protein and cheap sake, I forgot to put them in my pocket; I hate myself.

So, squinting in the pure morning sunlight of the Central Valley, I board the bus and we set out for Carlsbad and another day off. Our destination: a sunset-view resort perched at the continent's edge. I climb into my bunk and sleep.

De-boarding in the hotel parking lot, which stretches for acres, I am blinded by the four o'clock sun floating out over the blue, blue ocean. I scratch my plans to visit Lenscrafters and hit the pool instead. (The sunglasses, by the way, were located and shipped to San Francisco, where we'll be on Friday. À bientôt, sunglasses. From faraway beaches in the southern hemisphere to the autoroutes of Europe, they have served me well.)

After a rigorous swim and cocktails-with-the-guys in the hot tub, I bathe. I dominate the complimentary loofah (sorry, Matt. I saw it first.) and the petite bottle of "mandarin mint" shower gel. I am in a steamy, watery heaven.

After sunset, key members of the band depart for an eight o'clock "res" at a seafood restaurant on the coast. The jumbo shrimp are the size of bananas. The scent of the jacarandas blooming in the hills drifts over the table. Matt devours the entire cast of The Little Mermaid. I have surf and turf. We chase our food and our small successes with creamy glasses of Chardonnay. We are all getting tans. Life is good.


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