Writer Steve Stormoen writer


by Steve Stormoen

this memoir originally appeared in How to Tour Without Gas Station Burritos #1

Hard to believe, but the best show of [Quick Attack!'s] tour last summer with Hi Ho Silver Away was in Columbia, CA. Columbia is a gold rush-themed tourist trap of a town, located precisely in the middle of nowhere with a population of – if I had to stake a guess – about 14, all of whom were at the show. And after a few weeks of playing friendly DIY venues, garages and basements, upon arrival we found out that this show was at a smarmy bar with taxidermied dead things hanging off the walls, bumming out both the straightedge kids and the vegans on our tour. But with a few hours to wander the town before the show, we all got either geeked out on the tourist activities and shooting pool at the bar, or got sufficiently drunk, and the show turned out to be unbelievable. We even played that one song we never ever play, and it sounded amazing. The show was that good. We sold more merch than at any other show on the tour, too. Afterward, though, it was midnight in a very small town, and we were fucking starving. “No problem,” says Chelsea, from the awesome band Minor Birds, “we’ll just go to Lenny’s.”

“Oh yeah, cool! Uh, what’s Lenny’s?”

“Oh, it’s just a Denny’s”, says Chelsea.

“Did part of the sign fall off?”

“No. Actually, I don’t know why we call it that.”

Consider this strike 1. Denny’s, as we all know, must be the least noteworthy restaurant chain in North America. Not to mention that this is probably the only Denny’s in a 50 mile radius. Somehow, though, this particular Denny’s has earned itself a nickname which nobody can explain. Had I been thinking with my brain and not my stomach, I would have realized: nothing good can come of this.

When we got there, though, Ignacio was in rare form.

“Do you guys think that Jesus was killed by a shark? You know, because of how he walked on water?” “When I was a kid, I used to stand all the way to the back in the shower, because I was afraid that maybe a shark would come out through the shower head. But think about it, you know? How could you know?” “I heard that phrase ‘live every week like it’s shark week’ a little bit ago and I kind of peed my pants a little bit. That shit’s scary, you guys.” “I bet it was a hammerhead shark that killed Jesus. Because that’s how they nailed the stakes into the cross, right? I mean, it makes sense!”

Ignacio was also enamored, from the moment he sat down at the table, by the “Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich”, or whatever it’s called – a promotional entree advertised on a little card on our table. For those not in the know, the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a regular grilled cheese sandwich with four mozzarella sticks shoved inside. The waitress, at least, liked listening to him talk about sharks, or figured he was skinny enough that she wouldn’t have to repeat the Surgeon General’s diabetes warning that was surely required for anyone ordering that monstrosity. She even liked us enough to allow us to invent items for the Lenny’s menu.
“I just want potatoes,” said Woody. “Could you just give me a plate with fries, curly fries, home fries, and hash browns on it? No, no mashed potatoes, they aren’t vegan. But maybe put some avocado on top?”

“It’s called ‘My Potato Fantasy’,” interrupts Ignacio, gesturing to the kindly waitress. “You guys need to put this on your menu, and when you do, it’s called that. ‘My Potato Fantasy.’” For my order, I was a bit less imaginative – I had a mission, with some sort of variation on a deconstructed, vegetable-filled open-faced quesadilla for which I gave explicit instructions. “Steve’s Vegetable Reality”, we named it.

Eliot, on the other hand, was non-committal. “You can cook me anything, I guess. I mean, if you want… I guess – I mean – I don’t really eat meat, so I’d like it if you didn’t put any meat on it. But anything else, really, it’s up to you. But I only have 4 dollars. So, really, whatever you want to make me for 4 dollars. With no meat, please.” And I think the waitress wrote that down, word by word, as his order. He ended up getting the best food of all of us.

About an hour later, our blood sugar was crashing and the adrenaline from the show was wearing off of everyone except for Ignacio. “The scariest thing about velociraptors is that they’re kind of like sharks. You know what I mean?” And we still didn’t have any food. The chef, who was a really cool guy, came out of the kitchen to talk to us. “You wanted what?” “Just potatoes. Lots of potatoes.” “It’s called ‘My Potato Fantasy’” – Ignacio. “It’s on your menu. Or, I mean, it’s going to be.”

Finally, at about a quarter to two, we all got our food and dug in. As I bit into the fourth slice of Steve’s Vegetable Reality, I caught Ignacio out of the corner of my eye – pale and sweating from the face, looking about six inches away from vomiting right there on the table. “Oh no,” he said, the Ultimate Grilled Cheese sitting on his plate, only halfway gone. “Ulp… you guys. I just… I just had a snackccident.”

So, let that serve as a recommendation when you go on tour without eating gas station burritos. If you find yourself in Columbia/Sonora, California, head over to Lenny’s, which is really called Denny’s. Avoid the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich at all costs, and if you’re vegan, look on the menu for My Potato Fantasy. Though you may want to subtract the avocado.