Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Halloween in Chapel Hill

The IOTA Cafe was another sell-out. Rottisserie chicken at Pollo Rico, Peruvian style for breakfast(!), with Inca Cola. Taco Hell for lunch, then the long drive down to Chapel Hill. The weather is beautifully bright, crisp and clear. People are wearing shorts down here in Dixie. There are a lot of old friends waiting for us, as always.

Chapel Hill
So hungry, giddly little efflorescences of the skin come and go, I feel dizzy and sick. I guess some people fetishize these feelings, but not me! I wait to eat until 3pm, when Ben, Chris and I eventually find our way to "the BBQ joint", a few miles out of Chapel Hill, and the wait is worth it. Complex, smoky chilli sauces based on vinegar, spicy collard greens, beer-baked beans. As we drive back, we see three turtles sun-basking on a log by a creek. Later, I end up in a completely deserted Indian restaurant in Chapel Hill, having escaped the Halloween crowds milling up and down the streets. I order, perhaps unwisely, a Vindaloo, which it turns out on an English scale is about as hot as a Madras. It feels fantastic to be alone, even for a few minutes.

There is complete insanity on the streets. Costumed psychos have taken over the town.

We meet Carmen, Annie Hayden's good friend and our acquaintance from past shows in New York. He is dressed as Papa Smurf and sings with Annie in a solemn and dignified manner. This Halloween, Annie is an old fashioned Prairie girl and Ben is a hayseed farmboy. We ask him if he would walk around Brooklyn with his straw hat and dungarees (he already has a Southern accent, coming from Atlanta). he thinks he would encounter a lot of confused stares, but probably no actual violence. Chris Deaner, the drummer, is dressed as Magnum PI; he wonders where he is going to sleep tonight, thinks maybe he will collapse at Time Out Chicken and Biscuits. Who's going to bother a guy with a handlebar moustache and aviator shades, sitting motionless and ambiguously super-violent behind a table. Not us. Carmen gives us some donuts and a lovely card. Sometimes you meet people on tour and it breaks your heart that you can only talk for two hours every two years. If he lived in London I would happily see him every week.

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