Wednesday, August 30

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #30.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #30.
"Good Morning, Dark Lord."
(Originally published 04-05-04.)

Mediocre At Best - 2001.

I'm only going to tell this story one more time.

Not only does this week mark the 3rd anniversary of Mediocre At Best's historic trip to Marquette, Michigan, it also marks the 100th time I've told the story of the events. So listen closely, please.

It was April 7, 2001. We had been invited to Marquette by a wonderful young lady named Mercedes. She was doing her best to keep the Upper Michigan punk scene alive by booking bands from further and further south. We had met her at a show in Green Bay some time back, and were more than happy to make the trip. Her folks owned a nice little roadside diner and motel, so we all got to stay there for free. This was all we needed to hear, so we packed our equipment, and hit the road.

We had to take 2 seperate vehicles for the drive. The Missus ('the Girlfriend' at the time) and Aaron rode in the van, and me, Ben and Sherry went up in the Chevy Lumina (RIP). The idea of an all-day drive without the Missus nearby was more than a little annoying, and I spent the whole day telling Ben and Sherry that it was so. I got over it, or eventually bitched myself to sleep, or had a ball gag put on me, I can't remember.

The drive north was beautiful. There was still snow on the ground, lush forests, and no civilization for hours at a time. On the way up, we spotted an out-of-business drive-in with a giant chicken on the top of it. Sensing a great photo-op, we snapped the picture you now see atop this post. Once we started seeing the Canadian flags, we knew we were getting close. Having never been to Canada, I'm sure that Marquette is the closest thing to it that we have in the states. It was a really neat, surreal place.

We get to the motel, meet Mercedes and the two other Wisconsin bands that were on the bill for tonight's show. First on stage was the Green Bay ska nightmare known as the Kremlin Conspiracy. Then, Milwaukee's Day Kepler was up, followed by yours truly. The headliners were the local heart-throbs known as Milton. We didn't get to meet them until we got to the venue, which wasn't much of a lost opportunity. The Kremlin Conspiracy opted to stay in a different hotel, because they wanted to swim in a pool and steal towels. This bothered me none.

We chatted a bit with the Day Kepler folks, and got along as well as strangers could. After some dinner, we headed out to the Aurora Underground, deep in the heart of Marquette.This venue was great, but a building can only do so much. It was the inhabitants of the building that we had some trouble with. First off, security wouldn't let Sherry in early because she wasn't in the band. We pissed and moaned for a while, but being the nice guys we are, just let them go on their power trip, and threw her out into the cold. Sort of. The kids in attendence were just as bad. They valued image over talent, and refused to be impressed by anything, not because they were critical and intelligent, but because they wanted to be jerks. Not only that, but the long drive had taken it's toll on us too. We were all pretty much fighting with each other most of the night so far.

I had just turned 19; the Missus was 17. Damn

So with everyone mad at each other, and everyone in the crowd already angry, the Aurora Underground was in for an interesting night. The Kremlin Conspiracy came and went, the crowd didn't care much, and more or less booed them off the stage. Sensing animosity, Day Kepler knew what they had to do. They stepped up there, and unleashed a non-stop barrage of insults and jokes at the expense of Upper Michigan. There were boos, things were thrown, and good rock music was played. It was hilarious, and actually got most everyone there in a better mood.

The band was doing this thing where they would dedicate every song to Satan for some reason, as confused onlookers shrugged and flipped them off. However, people starting moving around and enjoying themselves. I was surprised that Day Kepler left without injury though.

So, when we took the stage, we also knew what we had to do. We didn't give them a chance to dislike us, because we immediately started freaking out. We channeled a day's worth of anger and uneasiness into the most energetic show of our short careers. People were hurt, blood was shed, things were thrown, and the crowd loved it. The set ended with me throwing my cymbal stand (and myself) through the drumset. We were liberated, happy, and done. We sold a few CD's, listened to an overrated Milton play, and headed back to the motel.

The next morning, I rang up Day Kepler (pretending to be Satan), wishing them a safe drive home, and thanks for playing with them and whatnot. Mr. Bojangles, the resident cat of the motel, greeted us in our room and almost got kidnapped by us. The five of us then went to the downstairs restaurant for breakfast before we headed home. The place was full of people, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. There were about 50 or so after-church, conservative, republican breakfast munchers there.

We began talking about last night's show, and about how funny we thought the "Satan" bit was.


Now, there's some controversy about what happened next, but I can say with relative certainty that Ben was talking about 'Satan' way too loud around these people. Some people think that it was me doing the talking, but it wasn't. I only started talking when people started to yell at us.

My friends are big babies when it comes to being assertive, so I had to take the reigns and fend off the protest. After some dirty looks and harsh words, someone came over to our table with a Bible or some type of scripture book, telling me to take it with. Say whaaaat?

Here's where my friends are split. They think I should have just taken it, said thanks and left. But I know I did the right thing. This person had no idea what we were talking about, had no idea that we were totally kidding, and had no idea what kind of people we were. They were completely overstepping their boundaries, and I absolutely hate it when people do that. I slam my door on preachers, and that's what I did here. I basically told her to go away, and to leave us alone.

I was diplomatic but firm. I could have just as soon told them all to go to hell, made devil horns to the whole damn diner, and left knowing I'd never have to see any of them again. But I didn't, yet I still come off like an ass.

Eventually, this woman's Husband restrained her, and we all got back to finishing our breakfasts. We left Marquette, seperate cars and all, never to return. Memories.

Epilogue: 2 members of Day Kepler would go on to form a band called Chevalia Manta, whom we would play another infamous show with some time later. They then went on to a band called the New Blind Nationals, who still play around Wisconsin to this day. Check them out, they're good.

Milton, The Kremlin Conspiracy and Mediocre at Best would eventually break up in later years. We lasted the longest though, and made the most artistic progress.

Mercedes was never seen or heard from again. We still have a picture of Mr. Bojangles on our refrigerator.

Wait, we weren't really into Satan? What was with all the goat sacrifices then?
That was merely Rock Showmanship.

Is there anything else you care to add about that weekend, Aaron? It was Ben that got us into trouble, wasn't it?
I know I wasn't in a bad mood; I think that was mostly you and "the missus." It probably was Ben that was talking loudly, but I can't remember specifics. It was pretty hilarious.

We took that picture with the giant chicken on the way home, though. And I'm pretty sure it was just closed for the season, not out of business. Not that those details really matter, but yeah.

We should have gone on a tour with those Day Kepler kids. We would have gotten into some wacky antics, I'm sure.
Right, we saw the Chicken on the way up, and took the photo on the way home. The only reason I think it's out of business is because there's a 'For Sale' sign in the window, right behind your shoulder in the pic.

Those Day Kepler kids were wacky. Who can forget the infamous 'unplugged' set we played with Chevalia Manta at the New Moon a year later?
Who can forget the infamous 'unplugged' set we played with Chevalia Manta at the New Moon a year later?

Pretty much everyone there, I think.
Also, I don't remember any boos at all, but the crowd wasn't that into it.

And you didn't include the reason for the title of the post. Their lightning-fast response to your phone call was the funniest part about the incident.
Right, I called the hotel room of Day Kepler the next morning:

ME (In growly voice): "Good morning, this is Satan."

KEPLER (Groggy and bleary-eyed): "Oh. good morning, dark Lord."

Why do I remember more things about it now than I did over two years ago?
Wasn't there something like "What is thy bidding, master?" I thought I remember something like that. But I don't think I was there when you made the call, so whatever.
The conversation went on, but that was the jist of it.
It was definitely Ben who was talking too loud about Satan.

To this day, I still think you should have just taken the book.
Screw that; they were way out of line. I can't have people thinking they're right when they overstep their bounds like that.

Nope, uh-uh.
A simple e-mail and I have an update from Mercedes:

i have left the UP, sad but true. I am still in college in Grand Rapids, MI (Grand Valley State University) and will graduate this year with a B.S. in Film Production AND Health Science. I then hope to get accepted to the masters program for Physician Assistant in Fall of 2007. I've been really busy with school and occasionaly go home to visit the parents. Bojangles in still alive and as cute as ever! I don't book shows anymore..that was fun.
also the chicken is totally gone. Bulldozed and a clinic is now there.

Atta' boy. It's nice to have some closure.
The chicken is gone??? That's terrible!
Your arms look really small in that fighting picture, Ryan.
It was just a really big shirt.
It seems like we all wore pretty gigantic clothing back then.

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