The last we talked, I was busing from Columbus to Chicago, yet at the fore of the tour with nine days and five cities planned ahead. I also didn't have a couch to surf in Chicago. Yet.
One of the biggest disappointments of the tour was lack of reliable internet on Megabuses. I had to wait til I touched down in Chicago to seek a last-minute couch on CouchSurfing. While I waited for a call, I made my way to the DIYchi.org show, to which I was early anyway. The gentleman who was bottom-lining the show allowed me to leave my guitar in the storage area and pointed me toward coffee shops where I could utilize free internet (and I already had a missed-call Couch offer!) On the way to coffee I saw a gallery where local artists were hustling their own work. We exchanged contact info. When I got back to the show venue, I did the same with the DIY bands. This tour was most about making contacts, after all. The show was everything I love about DIY music and reminded me of house shows I played in Miami with SnootiBounse.
The next stop was Minneapolis. I left Chicago around 7a for the eight hour bus ride. Early on I noticed a message in my inbox that read:
Here's the link - just went live! On the top of the Food page right now, huffingtonpost.com/food.
WHAT! My Huffington Post Food Informants diary was finally posted! Upon reading the none-too-flattering and politically neutral bio (there are many ethical and ideologically-charged reasons for my freeganism that were not mentioned at all, to my dismay) I quickly posted a bio of my own to the three blog sites that were linked in the article.
Internet access was hit or miss for the rest of the ride.
We stepped off the bus just outside a domed stadium. My only planned show in MPLS was held at a coffee shop downtown just eight blocks away. I ordered lunch there and connected to their wireless network. Time for some damage control. I spent much of the rest of the tour doing just this - reeling in the public backlash, a great deal of both positive and negative responses to my freegan way of life. By 10p there were 130 thousand views and 320 comments on the Huffpo page alone; the editor warned me that it would soon be posted to the Aol.com welcome screen and Huffington Post main page as well (within two days of posting, the article was running at 300 thousand views). I stayed up late that night talking with my Minneapolis hosts. Their living room couch would be my sleeping quarters for the next three night.
My weekend was spent at the Jesus Radicals conference. There's so much I could say about this event, but I'm not sure my words would do it justice. Not so far removed, anyway. There's just something about being there, experiencing it, taking it all in. Community.
Minneapolis has a great activist scene: lots of collectives, free spaces, anarchists. Indeed, the conference itself was for people who fancy themselves Christian anarchists. Salt of the earth, my kind of people! On Sunday I walked with a kid from the conference to a new collective arts space, hoping to play music for some people there. Only two volunteers were there when we arrived, so we didn't stay long! After about half an hour I headed out to another anarchist space - a house that was hosting a secret picnic fund raiser for September's anarchist book fair. There were still 10-15 people there. I grabbed some free food and ate as the event came to a close and attendees departed. There were only about six or seven people left when I took out my guitar and played a set. Everyone seemed to enjoy it =)
On Monday I was headed back east. I stopped in Chicago for an open mic night that was not nearly as great as people led me to believe. Coincidentally, Paul McCartney was performing at Wrigley Field just a few blocks away. I posted up near the stadium after the open mic and busked between 10p and midnight, playing lots of Beatles. I didn't make a ton of money but was happy with the work I'd done. Heading to my couch for the night, I just missed the last bus, watching it roll away. At least I assumed that was the last bus since I waited at the stop for about another hour and no other buses came. So I hailed a taxi and spent most of the money I had earned busking. I slept at a Catholic Worker house downtown.
I left Chicago early to Cincinnati. I had a show booked at a coffee bar called Baba Budan's. They treated me real nice. A decent crowd came out and listened attentively as they spent lots of money on booze. I took home 15% of the bar, $60 for the night! I spent the night and following day with my cousins who are awesome. So much so that switched my tickets for a Pittsburgh-bound bus departing 8 hours later than originally planned.
I arrived late in Pittsburgh with nowhere to stay. My original Couch Surfing host totally flaked on me, not returning my calls or messages for about two weeks prior. But I'd been to busy to find another couch in the mean time. A kind soul responded quickly to my emergency couch request. I slept well, knowing there was only one bus ride left to home. I ran the following morning to the Megabus departure point, arriving just as the bus was pulling away. I'd have to buy another bus ticket. Megabus departures were a bit steep so I went to a McDonald's restaurant to leech their wireless connection and weigh other options. I frantically looked over rideshare posts on craigslist and couchsurfing, hoping to hitch a ride with folks headed to nyc. I didn't hear back from anyone within a few hours, so I decided instead to buy Greyhound tickets, which were significantly cheaper than Megabus (for a change). The internet connection on the Greyhound was also light years ahead of Megabus, which is almost worth the hike in price. Almost.
All in all? The tour was great! I made a lot of contacts in all the cities I stayed and played in. This is really important. Mostly because I may or may not be planning a tour next spring which will take me to all these cities.. and perhaps many many more! Details on this to come in due time!
Thanks to everyone who prayed for me as I traveled, it's always very encouraging to know there are so many great friends and supporters who have my back =) Godspeed to you all on your own life journeys. Til we meet again..