Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Pinata

When the explosion happened I knew we had gone a bit overboard. My idea was to fill a pinata with cigarettes, and then blow it up with a firework to send the shredded smokes out into the crowd. I think I had it loosely tied into "Smoke That Cigarette!", an old country song we had worked up. Really, I just wanted to blow up a pinata filled with cigarettes and needed an excuse. Granted, placing a firework of this size inside a pinata and then detonating it inside a sold out club might not have been the safest plan, but that Great White Flaming Wheel of Fireworks tragedy hadn't happened yet, so I didn't really worry about it.

The 506 in Chapel Hill North Carolina is a big cinder block building that would host a Garage Rock festival every year called Sleazefest. Put on by Southern Culture on the Skids, it was a collection of bands that had probably opened for them as they toured the country behind their major label releases in the late 90s. It was almost every "big" band of our world. Pretty much everyone we listened to in the van would play over the three days. This was a show you wanted to play well, and because of this I thought I would bring out the extra "cheap circus trick" of the fireworks.

I had first become aware of the M-200 when a friend of mine that used to drive back and forth from Costa Rica for his "import/export business" had brought some back from Mexico. Allegedly a quarter stick of dynamite, these are the firework of the True Professional. After he demonstrated the potential of these to me by completely blowing up a watermelon, I knew I had to have some. I think he gave me 8 of them after I traded him a Cowslingers t shirt and a couple of promo CDs. I think I gave him an old broken down bike too. It was a good trade.

The first time I really understood the true power of the M-200 was when we played Ohio University. My brother was going to school there, and we would crash out at whatever flophouse he had rented for that school year. We went back to his place for the After Hours Party which, as expected, turned out to be the band, 5 other guys, and some guy's girlfriend drinking cans of warm beer. It wasn't long until I was bored and wanted to entertain myself. Remembering the M-200s in the van (safe, right?), I looked for something in Ken's house to blow up. When I opened up the kitchen cabinet, it was almost like a spotlight was shining on it. A giant plastic tub of off brand peanut butter was practically begging for me to blow it up. It was perfect. About twice the size of a kid's beach pail, it was almost completely untouched and full to the brim.

A few of us took the tub of peanut butter outside to where the house butted up against an old cemetery. I knew that the explosion would be big, and I wasn't crazy. I wanted to make sure Ken's house was unscathed. I cut a hole in the side of the tub, and inserted the M-200 as far as it would go, lit the wick, and ran like Hell. An enormous "WHAM!" completely lit up the night in a strange momentary white flash, and the tub was gone. Vanished. Poof! We laughed it up, and went inside.

Morning came way too quickly. I blinked away the early morning sun, and heard what seemed like a thousand birds chirping and cackling. What the fuck? What's with the birds? I looked outside and saw literally hundreds of black birds all over the trees in the front lawn and neighboring lawns. Then it hit me... The peanut butter wasn't "gone". It had been blown all over the trees in a huge circumference, and these birds were enjoying the best Sunday brunch of their lives. It wasn't long before everyone in the house was up, staggering outside the look at the spectacle. It had been a long time since any of the people in that house had seen 7am. I think it was then that Ken's roommate Mike figured out that it was his peanut butter all over the surrounding quarter mile. "Hey!!! That was going to last me all Quarter!" Despite it being very early, we decided it was a good time to make our exit. See you later. Catch you next time.

As you can see, I probably should have known better than to use that particular firework in a packed club. However, I had enjoyed a couple Mad Dog snow cones that were being sold by SCOTS keyboard player Cousin Crispy in the back, so anything seemed like a good idea. When the time in our set came for me to light up the pinata, I instructed the guys in the band to lay on the floor in the fetal position, and cover their heads. I was pretty close it it when it blew, and the force of it was impressive. How impressive? The cigarettes were reduced to tiny particles and were floating everywhere. On the roof of the club, Dave the owner and members of the Woggles (I think) were grilling food on a makeshift hibachi, and the force of the explosion knocked the grill off the ground. Dave said he though it was a gas leak and everyone was dead. To give you an idea of the spirit of Sleazefest, not only wasn't I administered a richly deserved beating, but received plenty of kudos from patrons and owner alike.

I was cleaning out an area of the garage and found one single M-200 yesterday. We've got a lot of shows in May. I wonder if I can find a pinata...


At March 9, 2010 at 3:48:00 PM EST , Blogger Ken Miller said...

I remember the guy working the door at the front of the club saying, "I felt the pressure wave from the blast push my eyeballs into their sockets."

At March 14, 2010 at 9:52:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...


At March 23, 2010 at 1:22:00 PM EDT , Blogger Brandonio! said...

I remember my friend Rick Shaul telling me about the Sleazefest incident.He told me that some people actually dropped their drinks on the floor out of sheer shock from the blast.You crazy son of bitch!


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