Monday, May 25, 2009

I choose windows. The glass kind.

You think everything falls apart without you. Really it just changes. This means falls apart, or, maybe, rebuilt stronger.

Speaking of strength, some Reststop Philosophy for you. The three of us were attempting exercise to assuage our guilt or future treat-eating, and stumbled upon these two structures, eye-ball stumble-style.

One is a concrete building without windows, the other a wood barnish building with a few windows. Not to go Three Little Pigs on you here, but I asked Rob which structure would he choose to live in, given that severe weather (like hurricanes and wolves blowing houses down) were probable. He chose the correct answer, which is B., the wood structure. He wants to see out the windows, risk and all. Life choices are very much like this. Complete security is possible, but I'd rather see the storm from my windows. (OK, to take this further, I'd also admit to wanting to build a cellar to hide in, to have the best of both worlds.)

Speaking of, at the beginning of our tour (September - October 2008) we budgeted for fuel being at about $5 a gallon, though it was 'only' about $4 at the time. We and our budget was relieved when fuel dropped to about half that amount. From November onward, gas became:

El Cheapo! I really just wanted a reason to shout this again, as I did much to Mr. Beloved's annoyance whenever we passed these signs.

I was thinking about maturity recently as I was biking home from Whole Foods and some teens did not move out of the way. And then I realized, one-line style, that maturity is the process by which we go from thinking we are the center of the world, to the realization that we are nothing. Or maybe a moon.

As babies/kids our parental figures pay complete attention to us. To some extent, this attention is expected from others as we continue to age. We think we're way more critical than we are. Conversely, too much importance is placed on the opinions of others rather than our own understanding of morality.

All this is leading up to the most important observation that you've certainly noticed: Binge Cafe has grown up and moved to Wordpress and does not know what it is doing. Bear with it/me.*

*(Binge Cafe tried to use Wordpress and failed miserably...I've never met an unfriendlier application. I couldn't even manage separating paragraphs, and upon searching the forums saw this was a common problem. Blech. I'll stick with blogger for now.)

Back in the olden cave-days of Blogger, (sorry poor Blogger!) Binge Cafe left off somewhere in Texas around March. It's late May. Why has Binge been so neglectful of her picture-posting travel-talking? No one knows. Below, Rob captured my intro at a screening hosted by the University of Houston Environmental Club. They supplied vegan cookies, so I supplied love.

In Houston we also screened my film at the University of Houston, Downtown, for the Philosophy Club, and at Rice University for the Environmental Club and Humane Society.

I think strawberry oat pancakes are pretty darned good. I also tried mango but this was not as exciting as anticipated. Though I've been just using water, I find that soy milk tastes a whole lot better. We'll be making these pancakes on the awesome Rockin' the Stove -- stay tuned!

BB played a show at Super Happy Fun Land which makes me want to do a documentary on people who run DIY spaces, except that I want to tour with Seeing Through the Fence until it becomes as outdated as the Brady Bunch, but with less silliness.

We played with our friends Football, etc (formerly Tin Kitchen of NJ) who moved to Houston recently. They also kindly attended my screening at Rice. They're awesome and you should check them out.

Note the vintage BB shirt...warmed our little hearts.

Also on the bill were a band from Brooklyn, whose name has been deleted from the Recycling Bin, brain-style. Dangit, this is becoming a habit. Again, not out of malice. I liked 'em.

The venue folks were so kind that they even let us sleep inside the warehouse.

Which is good cause the over-drinked lipstick lady who kept kissing her dog (evidence below) crashed on the couch.

After Houston we were off to Lafayette, Louisiana to screen the film at the University of Louisiana. Earlier in the day we leafleted there, then headed toward the theater. There was a breathtaking and lifetaking swamp in the middle of campus, which Syba did not swim in.

Probably because of the alligators.

Luckily we lived long enough for Rob to sample a local beer. After Lafayette, we were off to Baton Rouge to screen the film for an environmental group. Louisiana requires that each campus have a piece of artwork. This one, outside, even has Greek writing.

Next we were off to New Orleans. We had not been since 2002 pre-Katrina, and made a short visit to pay our respects to the 9th ward, sad. BB performed at the Dragon's Den, complete with Cafe Bamboo, the only veg restaurant in town.

We played with this nice duo, High in One Eye:

As with many duos, this drummer was awesome...

And not just cause he was borrowing my tom. We were also lucky to meet up with fellow vegan leafleters at our show.

Vic has handed over 55,000 students information about the animals behind most meat/dairy products in Spring semester alone.

In the third installment of meet-ups, we also ran into the Des Ark crew the day after our show, and made time to catch solo-Aimee at another club.

New Orleans is beautifully parked and historied. Rob and I went to City Park and we highly recommend it. We took turns watching Syba while the other of us went to see the sculptures and statues. During Rob's turn, I decided to shoot portraits of Syba, but should have removed her harness to appear more professional.

Above please find her stoic alert pose. Below, find Syba hoping to make some money from the stuffed ambiguous bear or fluffy green man company:

In a separate shooting, these are Syba having "alone time."

Except how I invaded her space to document it.

She also looks fine in a brown hat, no? Anyone?

I like how the shifter look slike a microphone that she's about to announce something into ("Help!")

In any case, back at the sculpture garden, it was full of interesting pieces, but the below was the most striking. The plaque following details more about the artist's intent.

I took this one for mom, who is the most modestly great violinist.

Sorry if these are violas mom. They're definitely not guitars.

Binge Cafe just lives for pictoral juxtapositioning. Here I want to demonstrate the complexity of human-hood, meaning our choices to protect some and eat others. Presenting, a nice sign in a parkish place where we stopped to exercise en route to our next stop:

And next to this sign, another sign:

Conclusion: Turkeys are not Important Birds. This reminds me of an essay I just read, Consider the Lobster by the late David Foster Wallace (thanks to Nicki for the recommendation). In the historical outline of lobster-eating, Wallace noted that eating this creature before the mid 19th century was akin to stuffing a handful of bugs in your mouth. They were plentiful and crawling all over the beaches, and thus thought of as waste, supply n' demand-style. There were some disturbing descriptions of a lobster's ability to feel pain, noting the small hairs within the shell on their soft bodies.

Speaking of turkey, a professor at the next screening we held in Stillwater, OK, at OLE Miss was so kind to us. After joining us for leafleting, she gave us homemade tofurkey wraps:

We also screened the film in another city in Oklahoma. No pictures.

Finally it was Sunday and we were free to relax again. Here is Rob working on a song for you and me.

Syba should have been a fish.

Atlanta has the most amazing coop, Sevenanda (Durham coop take note!) They have a variety of deli options for vegans and lovers of delicious foods (same thing). Most importantly, they have a rotating supply of vegan cakes to ensure Binge keeps on a regular exercise schedule.

The first place we performed in Atlanta:

Life's short. I wouldn't go back there. We were on the bill with four other touring bands. As you might imagine, this did not translate into an audience, apart from the nice bands who stayed, like these guys:

They asked if they could take our coloring book idea, where blank coloring paper and crayons are put upon the merch table for audience use. Of course I said, "You kiddin' me? That's MY thing. MINE!"

The next night, we performed as part of a Star Magazine showcase, set up by the awesome Justin formerly of Elevado, presently of Batata Doce.

The show was a lot of fun, and we hit up the cheap Chinese food place afterword with Justin #2 and got to preview tracks from his new band Glen Iris. (Note! They will be playing at our house as part of our Thank You Party 6/29. You are invited!)

This is completely self-explanatory:

We skipped the cleanse and had some seitan sandwiches instead.

One of the best screenings we had was at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. Before the screening, Rob gives students information on modern factory farms.

Below, heading to the screening. We use the same merch suitcase for BB and the documentary.

And this is me during the Intro, I believe.

There were roughly 100 students there, so the discussion was a lot of fun following.

In the arena of new foodstuffs, I decided to pick up some Laver because it has lots of good things like iron, iodine, B12, and DHA. But also important is the product's edibility.

The results were 50/50. Mr. Beloved reported, "Yuck," while Binge maintains that, when dry-roasted in a cast iron pan, it's just like a chip. A really good chip.

Anyone else cook this stuff? How?

At some point in Georgia we decided to take a break and rent a pedal boat for $5. It was a lot of fun, and I can't believe that Syba actually stayed in the boat. I might say it is a good workout leg-wise. Rob kept stopping just to see if I was pedaling, which, I was. Heavily pedaling, at least 40%. Rob says 20.

We also had a screening in Athens, GA (no pictures) at the University of Georgia. We were happy to arrive back home in Durham for a couple of weeks. In fact, we didn't really feel like going back on the road for the 9th month.

Duofest was a ton of fun and all the duos, I mean all of 'em, I really loved. We were honored to have Mecca Normal, and David of Mecca was kind to do a sketch o'me (he sketches different bands they play with).

Even though we hesitated to leave our porch again, what better way to start road life back up than playing a show on an old farmhouse porch with one of our favorites?

It was wonderful to see the Midtown Dickens again. New songs, crazy harmonies, we love 'em.

BB played next. These pics are courtesy of Michelle's iphone (I-phone?)

The show, complete with vegan cookout, took place at the home of Banjo Bob, who outdoes BB in both 'off kilter' and 'quirky.' He's awesome. We have his Apples & Oranges album, and lemme tell you, the songs will break into your headspace and cross the monkey bars.

Rob's photo. And his book.

We did some leafleting around the DC/Maryland area, and Delaware, then were off to New York, after a quick stop in Phili to get the infamous Vegan Treats cake at GoVindas. You should have seen the look of disappointment on my face when I saw the empty cake case -- coulda sank 1,000 ships. Luckily the vegan philly seitan steaks made up for this, 40%.

New York was our next stop. I attended a Farm Sanctuary meeting then debate. Jasmin, who runs the NY action, is one of my favorite peoples. The debate was something to the effect of, "Should we exploit animals less?" and if you can imagine, there was an opposing position, answering "No." The moderator, who had declared himself neutral (or been declared neutral) later admitted he was one of those people who would not care if someone kicked a dog in front of him (as an example of caring about suffering when it is right in front of you and/or when the animal is a 'member' of the family). Jasmin did a great job of summarizing parts of the debate and afterthoughts on her blog Making Hay.

It's interesting to drive in NYC. You're prepared for the worst, so when you're actually there it isn't as bad as you'd imagined. You do find parking. You do get lost and go over a bridge that puts you back in Manhattan when you were needing to stay in Brooklyn. But somehow, if Weston does not stall, you get to your destination with minimal stress and yelling/honking, and a feeling of accomplishment, like graduating.

My favorite contrast to the streets of NYC is the people-made Central Park. Instead of opting for the $8/hour parking in the park, we lucked out and found a FREE spot across the street with no restrictions except to be out of it 10 days later. I was so happy that I thought we should stay there forever, or at least 10 days.

The only downside of our Central Park visit was an unfortunate live exercise program event blasting the workout throughout the park -- "One, two, YOU CAN DO IT! Come on now, UP, UP, down, UP!" complete with breathy gasps for air and bad music that makes you (me) run away which is why it is effective for exercise.

In the park, finally away from the noise, we found a castle that was built for weather reporting, and took turns being king/queen. I present you Rob the King, overseeing his people.

And a view from the Castle:

After the park, and before the show, we (I) had a very important mission, mission cake. New York is just bursting with vegan cake, or so it seemed. We limited our selections to those within walking distance (1-2 miles) of Central Park. I was hoping to find my favorite, which we'd missed in Philly (Vegan Treats. Could it be a coincidence that they are based out of a city entitled Bethlehem?) Admittedly, I had high expectations:

Photo from Vegan Treats,

So it was with some disappointment, expressed fully after finishing the cupcakes within 10 seconds, that I instead found these tiny overpriced things:

In a desperate move later that day, I bought this slice of cheap(er) cake at a coop later that day:

To summarize, it looked better than it was. The frosting was wonderful, but the cake part was a little dry. But 10 stars for generous frosting.

After getting lost, only slightly, we were able to find time to eat at one of our favorites, Food Swings, in Brooklyn. I had the fish sticks, and Rob made the seitan sub disappear. We also had the Buffalo strips on sticks with a ranch dressing. All vegan! (Do I need to qualify that anymore?)

Finally it was show time and we made it to Goodbye Blue Mondays.

This is a cozy little club snugged under a subway line. We played there last tour and they're super nice. I forgot my camera and the owner mailed it back. BB was added to the bill somewhat late, so we opened up the night. We were happy that a member of the band we played with when we first moved to Durham (at the Wetlands! RIP) the Lost Patrol came out to see our show.

After us, a fabulous lady & her banjo played a set, Chelsea McBee.

A train went by during her song about a train. Next, the nice Key of V performed. A duo, so automatically of course they are on our good list(s). Besides that, they were good.

I took this shot while waiting for my laptop to boot up. It never did.

Tip: Do not purchase an HP TX1000 series laptop. I'm trying to resolve the issue with the BBB. Meanwhile, I got a similar little netbook to my friend Aquavino, and I love it! Mine is an ASUS.

After NY, we made our way to a State Park for camping purposes....

...I think I need a new sweater.

Next it was over to Boston to screen for the Veg Society, a very kind group of folks, I'll say.

The room extended to the right too, where the other half of the audience sat, by the buffet. We stayed with a vegan family restoring their Victorian home. The house had beautiful woodwork and tall windows, a spiraling staircase, and pocket doors. Syba loved it too because they had a dog and a stuffed bunny she proceeded to de-ear. She also left her green ambiguous Bear there, perhaps as an apology for the rabbit.

After Boston, Weston began practicing defiance again, this time by stalling. He chose several convenient places:

  • Shopping complex exit, at the light;
  • Middle of busy intersection going up a hill with fast oncoming traffic;
  • On-ramp to Mass Pike ("Folks, the trucks can't get by're going to have to move.")
  • Highway ("I'll help you folks pull over to the breakdown lane...");
  • Dark alley;
  • Another intersection ("ID and registration, please.")

All these were spread over the course of a day, during our futile attempts to get to Hanover, New Hampshire, for my Dartmouth screening. Luckily, we finally made it to a cold rest area close to Hanover. Since, Weston sort of sounds like he has a cold (swine flu?) and has continued to intermittently stall. But boy, can his top sure pop!

At Dartmouth, all this trauma was mitigated by the baking of vegan cupcakes by one of the students.

They also ordered Indian food for the audience, some of whom were lined up before the screening.

A reporter was there and interviewed me then published the article here in the Dartmouth Free Press. We also leafleted the school.

After, we barely made it to the Lebanon Food Coop, one of the most overpriced I've seen. Some say that all coops are overpriced, but this is not true from our coop experiences across these plains and mountains (the US). On average, we eat for about $2.50 a meal each.

We headed to Rob's hometown of Enfield CT, arriving the next day at his cousin's home. With the next picture, I wanted to illustrate that though Syba actively avoids Weston, while we were visiting outside she had the choice of either hanging out in Weston or Rob's cousin's grassily wooded back yard, and she chose the latter entirely on her own (see below right, behind cousin):

She later moved to the driver's side, where it was much more comfortable to squeeze between the clutch, break, and gas pedals. Before I continue to make fun of Syba, you might wonder why *we* were all hanging out in Weston instead of on lawn chairs by the firepit. I'll refer you to Rob for his response.

A couple people recommended Danbury, so off we went to our show there at Cousin Larry's Cafe. Met a kind blogger there who runs the Hat City Blog and bought a couple of our CDs. He told us about the history of the town, where hats to Danbury were like tobacco to Durham.

Our next stop has become a tradition of sorts when we're in this area, and it is one of our favorites because we get to meet up with the folks who run Vegan Radio (see Scott & Derek below) and eat at Cafe Evolution (also below).

We made it to Northampton and enjoyed Oh Sweet Mama's baked goods.

OK, so I ate a bite pre-photo. Later that afternoon, we took a trip with Derek of Vegan Radio....

...whereby Weston displayed the non-glamourous side of touring and stalled on the busy arterial. Derek and I got out and pushed Weston's backside, hot from the sun like a griddle, so we kept removing our hands to avoid burns and pancake-hands.

We decided to park next to our show location at the Sierra Grille and then bus or taxi to the radio station. Once up, you can hear the podcast at: For now, you can listen to their archives. They've asked us to create a theme song...this would be our 3rd theme song creation I think (Tech Notes Radio & Endangered Durham were the other two) so we're very happy to continue on in this business.

The show at the Sierra Grille was one of our best in awhile. The kind folks that book the place give bands a free dinner at 7:30 pm. We were on the radio and missed this, but they have plenty of vegan options reportedly, which is good since I believe the other bands were vegan as well. We played first (there are some great photos taken by Derek here). Have I already mentioned that Derek is an amazing photographer? Yep. He's also taken many of the pictures you see in leaflets of farm animals at Farm Sanctuary and elsewhere.

After BB, Vio/Mire played, solo though:

Then it was Aaron B and the True Believers:

They were a lot of fun and I told them all to check out the musicians on Trekky Records as they might be cousins, first or second.

We also met Eric Gaffney (of Sebadoh!) who was at the show and signed our mailing list. His more recent project is Fields of Gaffney. If this wasn't enough, he's either vegetarian or vegan...

Speaking of bands who 'make it,' Rob and I were talking about a band we met on tour who we have been trying to contact about a show in their town. Despite several emails to this band, we had not heard back. Since they seemed very enthused about helping us out before, I was stumped. “Oh, they're busy,” Rob said. “Recording, and I heard they just got signed to a label.”

It seems to me that bands are like orphans at a very noisy orphanage, waiting, trying to look pretty, to sound nice, to be adopted by a label. Or a fan base. Or you. Once a band is adopted, their departure is viewed with some degree of envy, but also joy that it is possible (if that's what we want...and to some extent, that's what we all want – validation).

Maybe we're all seeking adoption, whether it be for work or friendship. To what extent an image inconsistent with our true character is projected for the sake of survival, or a good life, is unclear to me. The ultimate impact of rejection is also unclear. Possibly we adapt or completely drop out. But certainly we change.

The actual adoption has an impact as well. Once accepted our maturity can again be assessed by how we react to our fortunes. My favorite people are those who become greater after adoption, in character and spirit. Rather than accepting exclusive membership in the now available 'higher' class, they remain members of all societies.

I'd just like to insert here, and perhaps I've said this before, that I feel most at home with musicians. Not all musicians, but the majority. Something like a family feeling, which I get with certain vegans too. And Greeks! Don't forget the Greeks.

After the show were were hoping Weston would take us all the way to Providence, RI. He did, pictures forthcoming. For now, I leave you with a love letter found at the Providence Whole Foods market, where they write, "Vegan Options!" on their deli case, in which I found this little happy friend, just waiting for me to adopt it.

PS: Some readers were having trouble with my last post, "We're Gaining Weight, that means Growing." That is, the first picture would show up, but the words were from my previous blog post rather than that one. It obviously worked fine for some people who made comments relating to the recent post, but not others -- in fact, I tried accessing it on a computer here and had the same issue. Perhaps this is a browser problem? But the previous posts all worked. Hmm. In any case, let me know if you have any issues.

Important PSS: The ruling yesterday in California broke my heart. But you can lend some support here: