In the summer of 2010, I urinated next to Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys at Lollapalooza. Since there were only two Port-O-Johns for ten patrons, I waited in that toilet line for six minutes next to the Keys guitarist. Auerbach is the most down-to-earth celebrity I’ve ever met. He is almost permanently stone-faced, but mini shit-eating grins present themselves if you look closely. He cracked tasteful jokes about Lolla representatives slacking on the personal hygiene component of the media tent. Waiting in line is a mundane event no one looks forward to, except Dan Auerbach. For once in his day, Auerbach is able to dodge the frenzy of media tape recorders and tight-jeaned reporters that ask him the same question in 100 different ways, “tell me about your new breakthrough album ‘Brothers’.” At this moment, I am happy to talk about portable toilets with Auerbach, and so is he. If I didn’t slam that Blue Gatorade just 60 minutes prior, I would have never met Dan Auerbach. Blue Gatorade is essentially melted cotton candy, but on this day the aftertaste was that of the nectar from God’s balls. This was the highlight of last summer.
This summer is different. The highlights present themselves in different shades. I am sitting in a Saigon, Vietnam alleyway stealing Internet from a wireless hotspot labeled “Dang Dung”. It rains fat cats and un-neutered dogs against the sheet metal roof as I attempt to drown out the noise with my iPod (playing the “Brothers” album). The alleyway runs just 6 feet wide. I catch whiffs of “Black Menthol Marb Cigs” from the Vietnamese shopkeeper across the way. He smells like cabbage, but I don’t mind. There has never been a better moment in time to inhale cabbage and cigarettes in unison.
Lugging my guitar halfway across the globe, it became time to hack away at this 6-string. Setting up in the alley, I fake a Bob Dylan tune on harmonica. A small Saigon crowd gathers in mild amusement. A middle-aged deaf woman takes particular interest, placing her hand on the neck of my guitar. She stays here for nearly an hour, feeling the vibrations up her arm while I adlib one of the seven something verses to “Hurricane”. She can’t hear a thing, but feels every song. Her enthusiasm is exciting, motivating and heartening. After the jam, we communicate simple questions via notepad and she invites me to lunch at her restaurant next door, Pho 2000. I look at a framed photo on the wall. I’ll be damned, it’s Bill Clinton eating curry at this very eatery back in 07’. Nice. I hope he sat in this very chair. My Vietnamese date smiles at me from across the table. I did not have sexual relations with that woman.