Monday, October 26, 2009



The story goes that a Manhattan doctor gets funded by the state of Alaska to do earn his medical degree at Columbia University in exchange for 4-years of indentured servitude in Alaska in order to pay his bills. Yes, if you are old enough to remember this show, Northern Exposure, then you are pretty old (like me).

Northern Exposure was my favorite television show back in the early 90’s, and I would even interrupt band meetings to drive back to my girlfriend’s pad in order to sit through an episode on a Monday night and drink in the sites and sounds of being in the relatively untamed wooded world. I lived in Delaware at the time and the wooded mountains of Alaska seemed a million miles away from me. No matter; I still wanted someday to visit Alaska, or at least some place where there were big mountains and women that flew air planes from one small town to another small towns just to deliver mail.

So, a few years later I was in a band called Ambassador 990 and we were touring the US. On our way out of Seattle I followed the advice of a friend in California and hopped off rt. 90 in the middle of the night in order to take a gander at Roselyn, Washington to at least see the town where Northern Exposure was filmed. At 3am, with the entire band sleeping in the van, I dropped off in Roselyn, snapped some pix, and as our band leader woke up, he demanded that I jumped back in the van and continue the drive to Missoula, MT, which I did pretty much without aid. I was pissed, and I vowed to visit Roselyn again before I died, and Saturday was my chance.

We left Nate’s place at around noon for a 9-hour drive to Seattle. I had a massive headache, and suffered another night of no sleep, so I did about an hour and a half behind the wheel before I handed it over to Stefan. After a few hours of driving through some pretty barren Montana wasteland I retook the wheel. Headache in tact, I pulled a marathon drive session that would take us right to Roselyn so that I could enjoy a meal at the Brick Tavern (yes, it really does exist, though it is not called the Brick). That was my goal; to simply stop at Roselyn, Washington one more time before I die, and I drove right past the exist. WHAT THE FUCK…? I DROVE PAST THE EXIT..? Apparently I did.

Now, 5 hours behind the wheel, no food since noon, and entering Seattle (on a Saturday night) to drop off Stefan before I drove the next three hours to Vancouver, and I was a fucking mess. Two times zones in three days. Two night of insomnia. Big headache. Yeah, all of that and so much more.

Getting Stefan to his abode was the easy part. A few turns onto some Seattle’s hippest streets and we were there. Backtracking, I was back on the 5 on my way Vancouver. I’ve never been to Vancouver so this was going to be yet another addition to my experience collection, and I was a fucking mess. Not only was I hungry-as-fuck, sleep deprived, and pissed off that I drove past the Roselyn exit, but I looked super CRACKED OUT. I was tired, tired of driving, and tired of not having getting a break on the crowed 5 on my way to the border.
Okay, so here is where shit gets good. I drive up to the booth at the border and there is a very attractive young woman in combat gear standing there. She asks for my papers. I hand them over. She looks into my bloodshot eyes and makes me respond to the same question a number of times. I am barely coherent in my speech. I am barely able to keep my eyes open. I look like I’ve been smoking crack all day long, and this I know because I can feel it. I know that I am gonna get searched, which is fine because I have nothing to hide. And, as predicted, they take my papers and give me a slip. Pull over there and take this to Gate A and they will process you. Nice. Here I go. All that I want to do is sleep and I am about to be hastled for the next hour at least.

Where you going Stewart? Vancouver. For what reason? To Visit a friend. Where does your friend live? Vancouver. Do you have a street name? No, I don’t really know her. She is a friend of a friend. So you are going to Vancouver to visit a friend of a friend? Do you know that you have a rental car? Where is your vehicle? My vehicle is at my dad’s house in Pennsylvania. Why are you renting? Because I am on tour with a friend doing work for a book. Where is your friend? Why isn’t he with you? Well, he is not allowed to leave the country right now and so I had to drop him off at a friend’s house in Seattle. Okay, I see, and so what do you do for work Stewart? Um, nothing. I quit my job to go on tour. Okay, Stewart, um, can we have your keys and are you aware of the contents in your car…? OH FUCK, here we go again.

Back in the early 90’s I had a similar experience coming back from Toronto. In this episode I have dreadlocks down to them midrift and looked a bit like a crazy-man, and was also driving a rental car. Always the rental car. It gets me busted so easily. Anyway, same basic situation, same silly questions, same me unable to formulate sentences because I WAS FUCKING NERVOUS. Yup, “pull over, give me your keys, check in there, and prepare to be searched.” Fuck, I thought that meant my car to be searched. Nope, while my car’s contents were being eviscerated, I was preparing to be STRIP SEARCHED. “Mr. Ebersole? Please step into this room and take off all of your clothes. I will be bringing a witness along into the room for the search. HER name is (???) if you have any questions.” And, OH FUCK, it was on.

The head search was fine. Mouth open, eyes rolled, etc, etc. Then came the thing that me, as a young man, feared most in the world. “Stewart, reach down and grab the backs of your knees.” FUCK, FUCK, FUCK. “Now cough for me a few times Mr. Ebersole.” Cough, cough, cough…! And nothing. I was being fucked with for looking like a fucking hippie. I was thinking of showing them my Straight Edge tattoo but, well, what good is that gonna do in a world that doesn’t have a fucking idea what that means…? An hour later it was all over. I am given my walking papers, and a chuckle by the border staff, just so that I could go out to my car and clean up the mess that they had left on the pavement beside it. Everything was open. Everything was searched. Everything was a fucking mess.

Anyway, I was expecting that last night given how cracked out I appeared, but after some begging and pleading, and telling them that I couldn’t lie my way out of this one; “yes, I quit my job, gave up my apt, and I am 42.” After an hour, and no strip search, the nice woman handed me my keys and said have a nice day. My second longest retaining session in my life at the border and all for not (again). Luckily Vancouver fucking ruled but, well more on that tomorrow.

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