#TYRANNY10 Addendum 3! “Burritos as Big as Your Head”

I was compiling a comprehensive list of shows I played back at the turn of the century, but among partial lists like this (from 2001, where I’m having a hard time finding everything before April):
APRIL
28-S-CHICO, CA-BLUE ROOM
29-S-PORTLAND, OR-PINE ST THEATER
30-M-SEATTLE, WA-THE PARADOX THEATER
MAY
01-T-BOISE, ID-NEUROLUX
02-W-SALT LAKE CITY, UT-KILBY COURT
03-T-DENVER, CO-DOUBLE ENTENDRE
04-F-LAWRENCE-300 WEST14TH ST
05-S-BLOOMINGTON, IL-PRAIRIE HOUSE
06-S-CHAMPAIGN, IL-FOUDINI’S
07-M-INDIANAPOLIS, IN-VOLCANO ROOM
08-T-KALAMAZOO MI-KRAFTBRAU
09-W-LANSING, MI-LOWER LEVEL
10-T-CLEVELAND, OH-GROG SHOP
11-F-MORGANTOWN, WV-123 PLEASANT ST
12-S-WASHINGTON DC-VENUE TBA
13-S-OFF
14-M-Carborro NC-Go Rehersals
15-T-Richmond-Hole in the Wall
16-W-Charlottesville VA-Tokyo Rose
17-T-Philadelphia PA-The Rotunda
18-F-London- Call the Office
19-S-Toronto-El Mocambo
20-S-Ottawa-Bumpers
21-M-Montreal-Barfly
22-T-OFF
23-W-New Haven-Rudy’s
24-T-Boston-The Middle East
25-F-New York-Brownies
JULY
25-W-CHAPEL HILL-GO REHEARSAL
26-T-WILMINGTON-FIREBELLY LOUNGE
27-F-NASHVILLE-THE END
28-S-ATLANTA-THE EARL
29-S-ORLANDO-SAPPHIRE
30-M-TAMPA-ORPHEUM
31-T-GAINESVILLE-COMMON GROUND
AUG
01-W-BATON ROUGE-SPANISH MOON
02-T-HOUSTON-NOTSUOH
03-F-DENTON-RUBBER GLOVES
04-S-AUSTIN-EMOS
05-S-OFF
06-M-LITTLE ROCK-PARLOR 13
07-T-OFF
08-W-PHOENIX-MODIFIED
09-T-OFF
10-F-SAN DIEGO-CHE
11-S-SANTA ANA-KOOS
12-S-LOS ANGELES-SPACELAND
13-M-OFF
14-T-OFF
15-W-SAN FRANSISCO-BOTTOM OF THE HILL
16-T-CHICO-BLUE ROOM
17-F-PORTLAND-MEOW MEOW
18-S-SEATTLE/-GRACELAND
19-S-MISSOULA/JAYS UPSTAIRS
20-M-DRIVE
21-T-MILWAUKEE-CACTUS
22-W- MINNEAPOLIS-7TH ST-
23-T- CHAMPAIGN-COURTYARD
24-F- ST LOUIS-ROCKET BAR
25-S- KALAMAZOO
26-S- CHICAGO EMPTY BOTTLE
27-M-CLEVELAND GROG SHOP
28-T-BUFFALO-THE MOHAWK
29-W-WILKES BARRE PA
30-T-NEW HAVEN-RUDY’S
31-F- CAMBRIDGE-MIDEAST
SEPT
01-S-PHILADELPHIA-ROTUNDA-
02-S-NEW YORK-BROWNIES
22 DC-BLACK CAT-
OCT
06-S-DC-BLACK CAT
07-S-CARBORRO-CAT’S CRADLE
08-M-WILMINGTON-FRED’S PLACE
09-T-ATLANTA-ECHO LOUNGE
10-W-TALLAHASSE-COW HAUS
11-T-NEW ORLEANS-MERMAID LOUNGE
12-F-HOUSTON-RUDYARD’S
13-S-AUSTIN-EMO’S
14-S-OFF
15-M-(CANCELLED)
16-T-LOS ANGELES-TROUBADOUR
17-W-SAN FRANSISCO-GREAT AMERICAN

18-T-OFF
19-F-OFF
20-S-PORTLAND-CRYSTAL BALLROOM
21-S OLYMPIA-MIDNIGHT SUN
22-M-SEATTLE-PARADOX
23-T-OFF
24-W-MISSOULA-JAY’S UPSTAIRS
25-T- SALT LAKE CITY-KILBY COURT
26-F- DENVER-15th ST TAVERN
27-S- CANCELLED
28-S-LAWRENCE-BOTTLENECK
29-M- OFF
30-T-ST LOUIS ROCKET BAR
31-W- MILWAUKEE-CACTUS CLUB
NOVEMBER
01-T-CHICAGO-FIRESIDE BOWL
02-F-LONDON-CALL THE OFFICE
03-S-HAMILTON-THE RAVEN
04-S-TORONTO-EL MOCAMBO
05-M-OTTAWA-BUMPERS
06-T-MONTREAL-CASA DEL POPOLO
07-W- UVM–BURLINGTON
08-T-NEW HAVEN-TOAD’S
09-F-COLGATE UNIVERSITY
10-S-PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
14-W-NYC-BOWERY BALLROOM
15-T-SOMERVILLE MA-TUFTS UNIVERSITY
16-F- PROVIDENCE-AS220
17-S- SMITH COLLEGE
23-F-CLEVELAND, OH – GROG SHOP
24-S-DETROIT, MI – MAGIC STICK
25-S-CHICAGO, IL – METRO
26-M-MILWAUKEE, WI MIRAMAR
27-T-MINNEAPOLIS MN-400 BAR (2 SHOWS)
28-W-OMAHA, NE – SOKOL HALL
29-T-LAWRENCE, KS – BOTTLENECK
30-F-FAYETTEVILLE, AR – CLUNK MUSIC
DEC
01-S-DENTON, TX – RUBBER GLOVES
02-S-AUSTIN, TX – EMO’S
03-M-HOUSTON, TX – MARY JANE_S
04-T-NEW ORLEANS, LA – HOWLING WOLF

05-W-TALLAHASSEE, FL – COW HAUS
06-T-ORLANDO, FL – SAPPHIRE SUPPER CLUB
07-F-ATLANTA, GA – ECHO LOUNGE
08-S-ATHENS, GA – 40 WATT
09-S-CARRBORO, NC – CAT’S CRADLE
10-M-OFF
11-T-WASHINGTON, DC-THE BLACK CAT BACKSTAGE
12-W-BALTIMORE, MD-OTTOBAR
13-T-PROVIDENCE, RI-THE MET CAFE
14-F-CAMBRIDGE, MA-THE MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS
15-S-BROOKLYN, NY-NORTH SIX
16-S-PHILADELPHIA, PA-FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH
I am unable to find the dates that encompass this story, and that annoys me. I don’t usually have lapses like that. But it doesn’t really matter – I can say with certainty that this had to have happened sometime between spring 2002 and winter 2003, which I realize could put it *technically* in the Hearts of Oak era, but why define so stringently, maaaaan? Just go with the flow.
(and just go ahead and lobotomize yourself, and/or me, after you click on that link)
(hot poker through the eyeball’s cool, too, as long as it also goes all the way up through the frontal lobe)

So, we’d just played somewhere in Champaign, Il, and were directed afterward to “the best Mexican place in town” for some late night food. (I had a real hard time deciding what to write there – “late night eats?” “late night snack?” “late night munchies?” “Munchies” should probably never be said or written ever, really, but especially not after 25, so that’s out… I just went with “food.”) Now, I have to pause here yet again to just say that if a college kid – and I was one, myself, so I’m including myself when I was one in what I’m about to say – directs you to the “best” ANYTHING in his or her college town, definitely get a second and even third or fourth opinion. Now that we’re in the age of smartphones, use the web liberally to do your research or you will end up, for example, at “the best sandwich place in town” – the JimmyJohn’s in Whitewater, Wi.! (true story, and I’m still not entirely sure that guy wasn’t trolling us IRL…), or La Bamba Authentic Mexican Food in Champaign, Il., who’s motto is “Burritos as big as your HEAD,” and which in all fairness, was completely adequate and possibly even delicious. I only just found out, in searching around for images for this post, that it’s a midwestern chain, so some of you may be familiar with it.
The real disturbing thing about it is the mural they have on the wall. It’s a U of I football game, but all the players have these big, wet, drooping burritos for heads. Try as I might, I couldn’t find an internet image of this, either, but I did find their mascot, to give you an idea:

Anyway, while we were eating, someone stole the front license plate off our van. Just the front one.
Annoying, but no big deal, right? Right. Probably. But then I started to think about why someone would do that, and I started to envision hit-and-runs, bank robberies, dorm room walls! So I got up the next morning and filed a police report. Again – no big deal – the cop was nice, it was a smooth and fast process, and mercifully, mercifully, dear god there is mercy in this world, he gave me his card and wrote the original police report’s code number on it, “just in case we had any problems.”
No real problems as we carry on north and east, stopping in Detroit, and continuing on into Canada. No real problems as we continue through Ontario and Quebec. Real problem when we get to the border in Vermont.
The American border guard is relatively friendly, and partakes in the frequent police/border ritual of asking about the band name and coming up with a joke about it.
“What’s the name of the band? -I tell him- “PHARmacists? What kind of band name is THAT? Should I be looking for drugs in here? Ha ha!”
“Ha – no. Ha ha.”
But then he goes from friendly to “border guard-y” in the blink of an eye as he clutches our passports closer to his chest, put his sunglasses on, walks out in front of the van and loud-talks (a little less than a shout), “SIR – will you please drive your van into THAT hangar bay!”
Me, leaning out the window: “Uh…Which one?”
“SIR – will you please drive your van into THAT hangar bay!”
“The one right there,” (pointing) “or the next one?”
“SIR – will you please drive your van into THAT hangar bay!”
O.k. I see how this is going. I’ll pull into the close one.
“SIR – WHAT DID I TELL YOU? WILL YOU PLEASE DRIVE YOUR VAN INTO THAT HANGAR BAY!”
“The one right here?”
“NO!! THAT one! THAT one! THAT one!”
“O.k. O.k. O.k.!!”
We pull into the correct “hangar bay,” and slowly, sinewy, a snaking line of other American border guards in sunglasses files out and gradually surrounds the van with all of us still inside. Some have rifles, some have pistols, they all have their hands on their guns. The automatic garage door opener is clicked in some control room deep below the Green Mountains, and the hangar bay door descends and shuts with a clang of metal on concrete, but bathed now in the florescent glow of the rows and rows of overhead lights…
no one
takes
off
their
sunglasses.
Mine are already off because you don’t want to come off like a dick when you approach a border guard unless you’re in southern Europe, where they seem to appreciate that.
So now a different guy starts barking at me to put my hands out of the window, open up the door from the outside with my other hand still showing, and step out of the vehicle. I do this without question or sass. Then the questions start coming
“Is this your vehicle?”
“Yes.”
“I’m gonna ask you again – is this your vehicle?”
“Yes?”
“This vehicle’s been reported stolen.”
“Ooooohhhhhhh – no no no no no no no no no – you don’t understand – you see, we were at this burrito place in Illinois and the front plate was stolen, so – I made a report! I have the guy’s card in the glove compartmen…”
“SIR!! Do NOT move! Stay where you are and keep your hands where I can see them!”
“Oh – yeah – no – I was just gonna get the thing out of the glove compartment to show you the – ” (#HowNotToTalkToCops)
We cleared it up. They took the card, called the office, punched in the code, garage door opener was pressed again, and we were on our way.
Until later that same day in Massachusetts.
“Oh shit. We’re being pulled over.”
In the sideviews, I can see a Mass State Patrolman on either side of the van, slowly, slowly, slowly walking up, eyes on mine through each sideview, hands on guns. The guy coming up on the driver’s side has his drawn.
“Drivuh – “ (I’m not gonna keep doing the Boston accent – use your imagination) “put yuh hahnds wuh I cun see thum!” (no more after that, anyway)
We go through the whole rig-a-morole – open the door, step out of the car, keep your eyes on me, etc.
When I step out, he’s got his gun drawn and raised on me and he asks me to walk with him to the back of the van.
“Is this your vehicle?”
“Yes. The front plate was stolen in Illinois. I filed a police report and I have the officer’s card with the relevant information on it in the glove compartment. This is the second time we’ve been stopped for this today. Something must have gone into the system wrong.” (#AlwaysLearning)
“Yeah, ’cause it’s coming back as stolen. Alright stay here with me, eyes on me. JimmyJohn – “ (I’m gonna pretend the other cop’s name was JimmyJohn) “open the glove bawx “ (I couldn’t resist that one – sorry, @JenKirkman) “and see if he’s telling the truth.”
We sort it out. And while it’s being sorted out, he starts talking to me.
“What’s all this gear? You guys just coming back from college or something?” (Which means it was spring! Must have been spring ’02!)
“Ugh. No. We’re in a band. We’re playing Boston tonight.”
“Oh yeah? What’s the name of the band?” -I tell him- “PHARmacists? What kind of a band name is that? Got any drugs I should be looking for? Heh heh.”
“No. I just thought it sounded good at the time.”
“Ha. Whatever! What’s the band sound like?”
“Uhhhh… It’s punk, loosely, like, not modern pop-punk at all, but definitely punk. I suppose it’s a little like The Clash meets, like, Thin Lizzy or something…”
I go on, he starts getting shifty-eyed, so I take the hint to shut up, and he lets us get on our way.
Tour ends at the Church in Philly, so the band, which at this point was myself and Chris, with Dave and Dorien, all split up after the show. Dave and Dorien drove their own cars, with other friends, down from Brooklyn and Jersey City, respectively, and Chris lived in Philly. I took the van and gear back up alone after the show. I get over the Betsy Ross Bridge, headed toward the Turnpike, and where the speed limit is 45, I was doing, probably, around… 59, when I see the lights come on behind me. As I start to pull over, I see more and more lights. I’m counting at LEAST 5 cop cars before I hear the bullhorned voice:
“DRIVER – PUT YOUR HANDS OUT WHERE I CAN SEE THEM. NOW REACH YOUR LEFT HAND DOWN AND OPEN THE CAR DOOR FROM THE OUTSIDE – KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT THERE WHERE I CAN SEE THEM – NOW SLOWLY STEP OUT OF THE CAR.”
But this time, there was no walking to the back of the van to chat about the band or anything like that. This time, I was immediately set upon by about four officers with guns drawn to my face, while a fifth grabbed me, spun me around, pulled my arms behind me, cinched the plastic tie-cuffs on my wrists, and pushed me to the, and then up against the, back of the van, as a sixth cop held a pack of snarling barking dogs just out of reach and any number of others started swarming the van, searching both exterior and interior.
Best question ever, at this point, and one that for some reason it seems like Jersey cops, in particular, like to ask, “Do you know why we pulled you over?”
Now, keep in mind, I haven’t just been “pulled over” here – I’m immobilized, with my face mushing up against the back of the dirty van, guns at my head and dogs at my feet, but I manage to stifle out a “Um, yeah – I *think* so…” We go through the whole thing again – I tell them where to find my ID, I tell them where to find the Champaign detective’s card, they call it in, punch it in, ram it in – whatever they do – the one guy brings the dogs back to his car, the other guy takes the ties off, they tell me I have to get new license pates ASAP (#thanks), and they send me on my way.
Not FIVE MINUTES LATER, as I’m approaching the Turnpike entrance, I see the lights again. And this time, I’m just, like, so dejected – I just want to get home – I’m kicking myself for having tried to be a responsible citizen and made the dumb report in the first place, but this time, it’s just one car, and the guy just walks right up to my window and hands me my license, apologizing for forgetting to give it back to me. He starts to turn to go, but then pauses, and says
“Hey – I never asked you – what’s your band called?” -I tell him- “PHARmacists, huh? I guess we shoulda looked for drugs after all! Ha ha. No seriously, though. Where’d you play tonight?”
“In Philly.”
“Oh, where? I go to Philly all the time!”
I wilt a little and say, “In a church.”
He gives me a little bit of a funny look and says, “What’s the band sound like?
I wilt completely and offer up the only thing I have left that I think can get me out of here and home to my bed:
“U2.”
“Oh, cool! Well have a good night.”
U2.

(And I’m still not sure that original cop in Champaign wasn’t trolling me IRL.)

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