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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BUSY BEE


Busy Bee, 1999.

(from King-Cat 54 and Map of My Heart)



Friday, May 21, 2010

2010 SPRING TOUR DIARY: Part Nine

From March 9 through April 8, 2010, I toured the Southeast US, doing booksignings, slideshows, school talks, and visiting comics shops and bookstores. It was great trip, maybe the best roadtrip I've ever taken! For what it's worth, here are some photos and recollections of my time on the road.

John P.


* * *
PART NINE: AUSTIN TO DENVER

We left Austin in the morning, driving up I-35 on our way north towards Oklahoma City...  Pretty soon we were in Waco, so we stopped to pay our respects to a Texas institution--  at the Dr Pepper Museum.

Waco, Texas skyline.











Dr Pepper Museum, Waco.




"The Institute was created in 1997 for the purpose of educating Texas students as well as adults about the free enterprise economic system that our country uses. The program, Advertising and Marketing Kid Style, uses the soft drink industry as a model to teach students about developing, producing, and marketing products. Since 1997 thousands of students from across Texas have taken part in our day-long program."






I was always a sucker for staircases, and this is a real nice one.


After Waco, we continued up into Dallas.  Dan noted that we were really close to Dealey Plaza, so we pulled off to see it.  I have to say, it was a pretty strange and emotional thing driving through.  Having seen the Zapruder film countless times in my life, it was stunning to drive along the same route.  It was so small, just a bend in the road really, and just another intersection in downtown Dallas, but there was no denying the intensity of the experience.  Above is the Book Depository building.


You can't buy advertising like that.


As evening began to descend on Dallas, we frantically conducted an iPhone-powered Texas Steakhouse search.  After a couple stops where the cheapest meal could be had for only $39.95 plus tax, we settled on this budget-friendly one.  And it was good.


We made it up to Norman, Oklahoma that night, where we'd be staying with Mr. Joey Belden, a King-Cat reader, and all around great guy, who helped set up the next day's event at the cool Atomik Pop! store.  This is Joey's buddy, Britney.


Britney and Mr. Snuggles.




Super-cool promo poster Joey made for the event, on the Atomik Pop! front door.


Norman OK presentation; photo by Rod Lott.

The event was attended by a great, enthusiastic crowd.  Super nice people...  They even made me this amazing, beautiful, gourmet Maisie Kukoc cake:

Incredible!


The day after the Norman signing, we decided to make the trek out to Tulsa.  It was out of the way, but I figured, "When's the next time I'm gonna be an hour and a half from Tulsa, Oklahoma?"  I've been fascinated with this town for a long time, mostly based on my love affair with the fantastic Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, who made the city their longtime home, and immortalized it in the mindblowing tune "Take Me Back to Tulsa."

Then, a few months ago, I found out that, along with Miami, Tulsa is considered the Art Deco architecture capital of America!  So that sealed it.  We headed east towards Tulsa.

Beautiful downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Tulsa's Cain's Ballroom is one of the most historic music venues in America.  In the 1930's, Bob Wills made Cain's his headquarters, and played on its stage for years, in raucous noon-time performances that were broadcast live each weekday on radio station KVOO. 




We stepped into the foyer, to the box office, and up above was a huge portrait of Mr. Wills. I asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a picture, and he said, "Sure-- you wanna go inside?"  I think my jaw dropped -- this amazing trip was getting better and better all the time!








Ceiling light above the dancefloor.


View from the stage, Cain's Ballroom.




John P. on the Cain's stage, happy as a clam.

There was a display case in the back of the room, full of souvenirs for sale, so we asked the Box Office Guy if we could get a couple mugs.  He said, "Sure, just let me finish this call, OK?  You can wait here in the office till I'm done."  WHAT?!?!

Cain's Ballroom front office, AKA Heaven.


"Am I dreaming?"


Wall of Fame.


Cain's is also famous for being the second to last place the Sex Pistols played on their ill-fated American Tour (next stop was San Francisco, where they broke up).  The Ballroom had salvaged and framed the wall backstage that Sid Vicious put his fist through.




Mr. Rotten.


More.




Our Founder.

When the box office guy finshed his call, he got us our souvenir mugs and made change, and then handed us his card.  He was Chad Rodgers, the OWNER.  I was floored.  He graciously told us all about the history of the ballroom, and how they had been restoring it from years of neglect.  I walked out of there mug in hand, floating on air.



Scenes from the neighborhood around Cain's...




There was a violin shop down the street--  how fitting!






Downtown.



















Outside Tulsa.



We stopped in Wichita to try some Kansas-style Barbecue.  The super nice guy behind the counter gave us free samples of everything on the menu to help us decide!


Wichita, Kansas.







We left Wichita and headed back on the highway towards Denver.  We still had a long night's drive ahead of us, but Kansas was beautiful and full of the most amazing stars.  We hauled ass into the dark...





...and made it back home to beautiful Denver around 1:30 in the morning.


30 days and 7268 miles later.

* * *



YOUR CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Mr. John


Buddy, the Rosebush


Dan

Thanks for reading everybody! 
All photos taken by John P. or Dan Stafford, except as noted.


Total Tour Miles so far:  15,327
(West Coast in August/September 2010!)