Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved


Crank's Corner


                            If You Build It, They Might Come!


    Well, we've been back for a week now from our "Search for Red
October" road trip of chasing the Red Elvises, Your Favorite Band, around
the North Coast.  My voice has almost returned to normal from the gravel-
and-squeak condition to which it had deteriorated from happily hollering
"yeah!" in clubs, when they'd ask, "is everybody having a good time?"
    The show in Toledo at Mickey Finn's Pub was great, even though it
was on a Monday night and the crowd was rather small, and smaller still
after the set break.  The guys drove in from Madison, WI, and phoned in
ETA and location updates while the opening band, Joe the Shaker & The
Playboys, entertained the early arrivals.  Many of our friends and relatives
showed up (thank you all, folks!), including my mother-in-law, who
surprised us by dancing during the entire second set.  I taught her my made-
up moves for "Love Rocket" (aka "Rock This Joint") and the guys dedicated
their final encore, "My Darling Lorraine," to "Ron and his Mom."  You can
see some photos from the show on-line at
http://www.chezstrange.com/Red_Toledo.html.
     After the show, the guys had a snack at the club while we hung
around, figuring that we could show them the way to a hotel and give them
directions to our place, so they could stop by and see the Red Room the next
day, if they felt like it.  (The Red Room is our party room, decorated in
dedication to the RE and other things red, Russian, or related to the movie
Six-String Samurai.)  I really wasn't expecting anything more; after all, we're
40 miles from Toledo, and, even though they had Tuesday "off", a visit to
North Baltimore would take them a bit out of their way.  While we were at
the club, however, Oleg asked us, "how long does it take to get to your
place?" and "is there a motel near there?"  We led them off into the night, the
Big Red Van following Harriet, the Little Red Zippy Car, across the corn
and soybean flatlands of Northwest Ohio.  They wanted to see the Red
Room!  Be still, my heart!
    We pulled off the highway and into the motel lot, had a brief
conference ("Do you have room for us all?" "Sure!" "Okay, we go to your
house!"), and led the Red Elvises to Chez Strange, our home.  We took them
on a short tour of the building; Zhenya said, "you have a lot of cats" and
Max said, "you have a lot of stuff!"  Soon, we were sitting around in the Red
Room, drinking tequilla, eating Triscuits with aerosol cheese (spray cheese
is a sort of running joke we have going with the RE), and looking at photos
of past tours, old issues of Soviet Life magazine that I'd bought at a yard
sale, and reproductions of antique Russian advertising posters that I found
on eBay.  Oleg asked for a beer, and we just happened to have a bottle of
Russian beer in the fridge.  Zhenya played tug-of-war with Chloe the
Hellhound, and we all toddled off to our rooms sometime around 5:00 AM.
My last thought as my head hit the pillow was, "we have a houseful of
Russians!"
    Hubby and I woke up fairly early the next day, and we tiptoed around
feeding the animals and drinking coffee while all remained quiet on the
Eastern Front.  Trains went by on the tracks that are very busy and very
nearby; no one stirred.  (Oleg had videotaped some trains the night before.)
More trains went by; Ron went to the store to get stuff for breakfast.
Sometime after noon, Red Elvises began to surface from the depths of sleep,
one by one, and to wander around Chez Strange with "what is this place?"
expressions.
    Once everyone was awake, Ron made breakfast burritos (sausage,
eggs, onions, and cheese, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla) and bacon, with
coffee, tea, and orange juice alongside.  A young friend of ours dropped by
on her way to work, but she came up the front stairs and didn't see the Big
Red Van out back.  She's a Red Elvises fan who'd meant to go to the Toledo
show until her puppy got into the Halloween candy and had to go to the
emergency vet, and was dressed in her ugly work uniform, wearing no
make-up, and worn out from a night of pet anxiety when she rounded the
corner into the kitchen and saw her Favorite Band eating breakfast!  The
poor girl was speechless, able only to stand there, gaping like a guppy.  The
next time the guys play in this area, we'll have to make sure she has a chance
to dress up and go to the show.
    Once fed, the guys decided to hit the road for a leisurely drive to
Cleveland.  Max the road manager checked maps, Zhenya did his exercises
with the help of a telephone pole in our alley, and Oleg wandered down the
street with his video camera, following the sound of the high school
marching band practicing in an empty lot a block away.  Imagine a bunch of
small-town kids, practicing "God Bless America," while a red-haired
Russian gets it all on tape!  Igor checked out Ron's old guitar when we took
them to the practice room and recording-studio-in-progress across the street
behind our friend Shawn's computer store (Cyber Solutions), and, from what
I overheard, RE would love to have such an inexpensive and easily
accessible practice area.
    We said our reluctant good-byes, promising to catch up with the band
on Wednesday night in Cleveland, then hubby and I went upstairs, looked at
each other, said, "we had a houseful of Russians!", and fell over and took a
nap.  Exactly a week later, while I was doing the dishes I'd left piled up
while we were on our road trip, the thought struck me: I should have had the
guys autograph the walls in the Red Room!  Oh, well, maybe next time; at
least we have photographic proof that they were actually here
(http://www.chezstrange.com/Red_Home.html).  We built the Red Room
because it pleased us to do so, never really expecting that the Red Elvises
would ever see it in person.  But, if you're a Red Elvises fan, and if you have
the space and the inclination to construct a Red Room of your own, I can tell
you from personal experience: if you build it, they might come!


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