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"How We Ruined Lunch Hour In Duluth"

We were not recording stars, and had no idea we would ever have hit records. 
We were just three Florida musicians, Misty, me, and our guitar player Doug Tarrant, 
who somehow wound up in the north country in December. This tour was booked by a 
Philadelphia agent who later made national news by getting arrested for cheating the 
phone company with a device that made sounds like coins dropping in pay phone slots. 
For a low tech era he was ahead of his time.

The tour was beautiful, funny, and awful. The used Cadillac we had just bought sucked 
up all the profits, and after nine months on the road we returned home broke. With all 
our earthly possessions stacked in an old wooden trailer with a tarp on top, the car's
electrical system kept dying, leaving us constantly stranded in dark and lonely places. 
We finally bought a battery charger and a long cable which we ran into our motel 
windows. Wherever that car is today, I guarantee you the battery is dead.

Traveling northward through the Wisconsin sutumn, we were of interest to many deer 
along the road. The forests gave way to towns, and then to a magical display we'll 
never forget. It looked like all the stars had piled up in one corner of the sky 
forming a great twinkling mountain. Duluth, a city built on the side of a ridge. 
We were booked at the Black Bear Lounge in the Hotel Duluth. The lounge was named 
after a large hairy customer who wandered into the lobby, and was promptly shot, 
stuffed, and mounted in a place of honor. No wonder they don't get much of the bear 
trade with that kind of treatment.

We had a dog named Brubeck. He looked like a Jack Russell Terrier, but wasn't. People 
would remark about his good looks and ask what breed he was. I would say he was a 
miniature Armenian Shepherd. It was easier than trying to explain the bunch of strange
characters in his ancestral woodpile. Brubeck would not eat dog food. He would eat 
cat food or a fouls smelling liver concoction that Misty cooked up for him. He would 
also eat complete motel mattresses, medium sized linoleum floors, and my better clothes. 
He was great.

We had an entertaining routine. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was 
always staring at me when I wasn't looking at him. As soon as I'd look at him he'd 
quickly look away and peer thoughtfully off into the distance. I'd look at him and 
he'd look away. I'd look away and he'd look at me. We got a beat going. We did it 
for company. Life was boring then.

Misty felt a need to dress Brubeck up like a rich lady's poodle. He would be led 
through the lobby wearing a leopard print dog coat, a hat, and four yellow boots, 
at least one of which was always turned around with the toe pointing grotesquely 
backwards. He would be shaking a rear leg trying to get rid of it. This gets worse.

The hotel had a classy restaurant which was below ground level, the sidewalk and snow 
covered grass was exactly at eye level with the lunch crowd inside. The place was 
packed with well dressed business people enjoying their food, when Misty's legs 
appeared in the far right window, then the leash, and finally what looked like a dog 
in a pimp suit. The pimp dog went right up to the restaurant window and proceeded with 
what seemed to be a long overdue bowel movement. Misty, totally embarrassed at being 
the focus of every eye in the crowd, tried her best to look like she'd never seen 
this dog before in her life. It didn't work, and Brubeck went earnestly on and on. 
Then she made it worse by trying to drag him away while he was still going. 
A LOT worse!

The lunch hour business dropped off abruptly after that.

Copyright  February 15, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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