Now a few brief words about poutine and hostels.
Gravy has always been my friend. Cheese, too. And the potato, that noblest of tubers, spoke movingly at my grandfather’s funeral. Taking all of this into account, I’d assumed it a foregone conclusion that placing these items together would inevitably result in something almost holy. In a similar vein, I have no quarrel with the band Foreigner. They were supposed to sing ‘Jukebox Hero’ at the aforementioned funeral, but canceled at the last minute. I’m not bitter; it was a busy time for them. They may have lacked the potato’s eloquence, but they were popular in the 70s and 80s when bands required hair, not eloquence (Warrant, anyone? Ratt? Dokken? Hello?).
I recently found myself north of the border for an evening of booze-related fellowship. The night ended with our visiting a little place that ‘specialized’ in the delicacy known throughout Canada as ‘Poutine’, but known elsewhere and more appropriately as ‘Artery Rape’. Conceptually, poutine appears to be the perfect drunk indulgence, as it includes the staples of gravy, french fries, and cheese, though here in curd form. When you combine these ingredients, then sprinkle with the reckless abandonment of thoughts toward self-preservation, the result is what amounts to Waffle House condensed into a bowl, but without the saving grace of waffles. As the cheese curds melt, this mound of gravy’d shame turns into what I recall describing as a ‘soup of despair’, because it ends up as a mass of semi-solid goop, each bite of which fills you with self-loathing as your heart screams, ‘WHY?!?!?’ I’ve happily ingested more than my share of post-alcohol binge food in the past, but I clearly wasn’t drunk enough for poutine. It is the devil’s snack.
Having checked poutine off of the ‘List ‘O Crap To Do At Some Point’, I made my way to the hostel. Through travels all over Europe and Ireland, I’ve never really had any seriously bad experiences, so I tend to lean toward their no-frills embrace whenever I visit places involving overpriced hotels. Also, I think I’ll always have issues with dropping massive wads of cash on a place that I’ll merely be sleeping/pooping for a limited period of time. Also also, I’m a graduate student.
Anyhoodle, I got to the hostel and found that it was conveniently attached to a bar with an even more convenient cover band of what looked to be half-naked skate punks attempting to wail and screech their way through the 80s catalog. The first question that sprang to mind was why the 80s when the 90s is so much closer to their bass player’s gestation period (he looked 14). The second was why the lead singer even bothered to attempt Axl Rose’s scream at the beginning of ‘Paradise City’. Having failed at that in spectacular fashion, he then attempted to make up for it by doing Axl’s skip-in-place-while-twirling-the-microphone thing, which might’ve worked on a larger stage and in the hands of a less-sweaty version of a young Ricky Schroeder, but alas, this, too, resulted in a giant pile of FAIL in the process of nearly uppercutting the lead guitarist. None of this deterred the throng of 20-something head-banging backpackers (not a euphemism….probably) from belting out what might constitute the only english they know.
Retiring to my room, I laid in the bottom of one of two sets of bunk beds and listened to the band struggle through Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’ and Motley Crue’s ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ before inexplicably shifting gears from from 3rd to neutral by unleashing a double shot of Foreigner: ‘Waiting For a Girl Like You’ followed by ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and then…..Dirty Deeds by AC/DC. Who the fuck put that set list together?! Now I’m laying there, actually pissed off that they chose to not only play two ‘power’ ballads in a row, but had the unrelenting lack of originality to choose them from THE SAME BAND. And then they follow it with AC/DC?! So, I start having an imaginary conversation with the Douchehammer Trio or whatever their name was.
“First of all, consider your audience. They’re backpacking across the world, eating ramen and Snickers so they have enough beer money. They’ve been stuck on trains and buses listening to people speak a foreign language for weeks. They need an outlet. Fuck Foreigner. Toss that treacly shit in the trash, along with Wham! and Flock of motherfuckin’ Seagulls. If you have to go soft, stick with Journey or something moderately Def Leppard-like, but SPARINGLY. Aside from that, it needs to be junk like Metallica, AC/DC, Slayer, or hell, why not Black Flag. Widen the time frame and unleash some Rage Against the Machine. Do you really think anyone in an audience of mostly generation-Y Euro-trash is going to complain that you’re inserting too much thrash metal into their evening? Maybe throw in ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ in order to get a drunk Irish kid to throw a bar stool through a window. You assholes don’t even know who Black Flag is, do you.”
So, I’m thinking that I might need to reconsider staying in hostels. Or at least call ahead to check whether they’re situated above bars and, if so, whether they have the playlists of the bands scheduled to be in the bar the night I arrive. I’m clearly getting too old for that shit.
Sir @ May 10, 2010