It’s 2:00 in the afternoon somewhere just north of Mexico. I am leaned back in my chair, feet up on an old cable spool, holding my beer up to the light and watching the sweat drip off the bottle and onto my forehead. Mesquite trees punch out of the dirt like escaping zombies to block the sun, letting just enough blue sky through to make the day perfect. Sam and I are on tour in South Texas and today is almost good enough to make me forget yesterday.

This juxtaposition on the road is something I am familiar with. All too often a horrible day is followed by a surprisingly amazing one. You never know. You can’t predict it. Even when I return to places I’ve been before the experience is always different. I have walked into gigs in dive bars expecting the worst and had some of the best shows of my life. I have also driven places thinking that nothing could go wrong and had the world explode in front of me like a landmine.

You just never know.

I’ve done this run through the Rio Grande Valley before, and while I can never quiet nail down what the crowds may be like, I can always count on at least part of the trip to work out for the best. Isaac owns the theater downtown that I am playing tonight. One of the greatest perks to traveling like I do is that I’ve made friends in every corner of the world –happy souls in Africa and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Japan that I always attempt to spend time with when I make it their direction. The same holds true in the States, and even more so. I get to meet people I would never run into otherwise and sometimes those people work themselves into my circle. Isaac is one of those people.

We’re staying at his house while we’re in town. No half-star hotel room for these few days – his house in inviting and comfortable, eclectic and interesting. Mexican art hangs on every wall, some his, some other artists. Crosses dot the few empty spaces on the walls and skeletons and statues and sculptures sit on antique tables in every corner. The front door is carved ornately and looks a thousand years old. In every room the walls are one deep, rich color or another. It is not museum-like – projects sit half-finished if you stop to look. A sketch in progress. A pot on the stove. Instrument cables run to amplifiers from a makeshift jam session in the living room. The bench sits pulled out at the piano. A speaker stack is set up in the corner for no apparent reason at all. The place feels used, like a sports car that the owner actually drives.

Isaac is many things: a musician, an artist, a chef, a nightclub owner, and a complete free spirit. The first time I met him we sat on the patio at his restaurant and ate paella and fried cilantro, and after so many trips through this area he and I have become friends. That’s why we’re staying at his place this week. I need to press reset after the first night out here.

The Valley is basically just North Mexico. Violence hovers like a cloud at the border. I usually slip into Reynosa or Progresso for street tacos and a cheap beer while I’m down here, but not this time. I couldn’t even escape tension on our side of the river. After a surprise change in our itinerary, Sam and I showed up a day early for a last minute extra gig in a neighboring city. The hotel that the promoter booked for us was a crime scene. Literally. It was fairly evident that someone might have been killed there in the last few days. Denzel stayed in better hotels in The Book of Eli. I rarely walk barefoot in hotels to begin with; socks just seem safer. I kept my shoes on in this one.

The first key they gave me led to an already inhabited space, though the tenants were either dead or gone or both. Smoldering cigarettes in the ashtray filled the room with smoke, a hazy veil hanging in the air like an Ecuadorian forest, and on the other side of that fog could have been anything from a murdered body to an old Chinese man selling gremlins. Scattered clothes and toiletries littered the room. The space immediately downstairs was occupied by a dog, a German shepherd from the sounds of it, which barked incessantly. Throaty woofs and growls pierced the walls as I went back to trade in my key for another room, though the new one was no cleaner than the one with the missing people in it. It’s one night, I told myself. Just one night. Suck it up.

I awoke the next morning to a sound at my door. Growing up with three brothers has made me a light sleeper. A noise is an attack. I go from catatonic to alert instantly. My subconscious always seems to know when something is not right, and something was definitely not right. It wasn’t a knock at the door that woke me up, but something much more subtle. I slipped off the side of the bed and stole a glance around the corner. The door was open slightly, as far as the security latch would allow anyway, and a hand was reaching through attempting to flip that latch open. I took two quick steps and kicked the door violently and the hand crunched and popped loudly as someone on the other side screamed in pain. I held my foot in place as the fingers twitched.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I yelled, keeping my weight against the door.

“Housekeeping,” came the pained reply. I pulled my leg back, flipped the bolt and jerked the door open.

“Have you lost your fucking mind?” I said. The man pulled his hand in to his chest, cupping it like an injured bird with his good hand. His manager strode over, a cocky looking, Napoleonic half-man with a deep Indian complexion.

He ignored his employee with the injury like it was a battlefield casualty. “Checkout was at 11:00,” he said. “Why are you still here?”

“Checkout is at noon,” I shot back.

“No, it’s not.”

“It’s on the sign on the back of this door you fucking idiot. And it is 12:06 right now”

“Oh, well, that’s wrong.”

“So that’s why you’re breaking into my room?”

“We knocked and no one answered, so we assumed someone must be passed out in the room.” He was smug. He’d been called on this before and didn’t care. Call the police, his face said. I dare you.

“That was your immediate assumption? Why didn’t you call?”

“Your phone must be broken.”

“Like your friend’s hand?” I asked, and flung the door shut. “Give me a minute,” I yelled through the closed door.

Sam met me in the lobby, only to share his own story. He was in the shower when he noticed a shadow through the shower curtain. Another employee had bypassed his safety lock in a similar fashion and caught him off guard.

Sam left to pull the car around as I made my way around three of the owner’s friends that were trying to bar my exit. “What you wanna do bitch?” one of them asked, posturing in front of the other two while the owner stood by and watched. A single tear tattooed on the man’s face indicated that if things escalated this wouldn’t be his first violent altercation.

“Seriously?” I asked, and tried to limit myself to just that one word. There were three of them and I can be dumb sometimes when I’m angry. I walked to the car while they circled, expecting a punch to be thrown though one never came. They got louder as I got in the car, and I popped back out of the passenger seat to yell something in reply but was stopped by Sam. No one ever believes that he is the calmer of the two of us when we’re on the road. Looks are deceiving I suppose.

So now, I am better. Isaac’s girlfriend Ceci is cooking a homemade Mexican dinner for us back at the house. From inside the bar, far across this wide open back lot, some country song plays on the jukebox and the crack of pucks on the shuffleboard table float out of the open door and off into the air. Another round of beers comes out.

I mention the hotel story to Isaac. “That kind of thing is getting worse down here.” he says. “They buckled down on the gangs and cartels on the Mexico side so now they just bring it here. Happens all the time, too. That lady whose husband got killed on the jet ski on Falcon Lake? The investigator on the Mexican side got his head cut off. They’re ruthless. There was a guy down here that got in trouble with one of the cartels and they kidnapped his baby and fried it. Literally, like fried it.”

“You’re kidding,” I say.

“No. I wish I were. It’s bad bro.”

“They fried it.”

“I’m serious.”

“They don’t even do that at the fair. I mean, they’ll fry butter or Oreos…”

“You’re sick bro. You know that, yes?”

And I do know it, but it’s how I deal with things. I made a fried baby joke. I take a sip of my beer and think about that for a second. What kind of person does that? As I mull it over I hear Sam doing an impression of a mock Visa commercial.

“When you come to Mexico make sure you bring your Visa card, because they’ll take your baby… but they won’t take American Express.” I laugh harder than I should. This is what it’s like, like it or not. Yin and yang. Good and bad. They always talk about paying dues on the road, and while I have certainly paid my share – more than enough to not really have to deal with subpar accommodations anymore, much less gang-run hotels – when those moments do surface I have learned to take them in stride. That’s one of the costs of getting to stand in front of the bright lights on a concert stage and listen to a theater full of people applaud.

“That fried baby joke was fucked up, bro,” Isaac says, laughing.

“It’s good to see you again, too,” I reply, and we clink bottles, content to wash away the Valley with cold beer and camaraderie.

“It was kinda funny though,” I say. “Wasn’t it?”

TAGS: , , , , , ,

SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

132 responses to “As I Walk Through the Valley”

  1. Zoe Brock says:

    Whenever anyone mentions fried babies to me my first recourse is humor as well. It’s a natural response for anyone who writes on this website and, coincidentally, what makes us far superior to anyone else on the planet.

    Nice one. Funny.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Well, it is certainly on the list of things that make us superior to the rest of the planet. I don’t think I could be friends with someone that couldn’t laugh at that.

  2. Tom says:

    Ok As much as I hate myself for it I did LOL… You should write a book the way you described it I was totally in that shit hole with you and was just beginning to enjoy the cold beer when the fried baby joke came out… Let me know if you make it to Dallas

  3. Rena says:

    I laughed out loud at the fried baby joke…

  4. Lorna says:

    Disfruto realmente de viajes a México, pero hasta que paren a bebés abrasadores y decapitar a personas, yo lo tomo de mi lista de destinos de viaje. Soy ni seguros los pueblos fronterizos en EEUU están a salvo en este momento. Pero gracias por la aventura el Sr. Jamón.

    Oh……I’m not correcting that Sr. Jamon! Thanks for the laugh English/Spanish translator.

    • Slade Ham says:

      My Spanish teacher in high school used to call me Ensalada Jamon. My Spanish has gotten rusty over the years but I still speak it decently enough – enough to have a conversation anyway.

      You should avoid it for now btw. I’m sure they’ll stop with all the baby cooking soon enough. That kind of thing doesn’t seem like it would be fun for long.

      • Lorna says:

        Ham salad? hahaha. I am a giver of nicknames. I never realized I did this until one day someone asked me why I was calling my son Hobo. Yes, sometimes the nicknames I give people are not so flattering. My son has gone from being hobo to bubba to Mr. B to BK. My daughter has always just been the Sunshine Girl. Sometimes I call my hubby El Jefe because that’s what his Spanish teacher called him. But mostly I call him Chef Jeff because he’s like my own personal chef.

        Now, have I gone off topic enough for you? lol.

        What is really sad about the whole Mexican drug cartel situation is how it affects the locals there who are trying to make a living. As is that wasn’t difficult enough, ya know? Last year when we went tp Cozumel it was sad to hear from the people themselves how the tourism in Mexico is suffering because of it. People struggling to make a living…. it is just sad.

        Fuck the cartel. I was in Tijuana building homes for the homeless a few years ago while they were leaving coolers of heads along the border. They’re assholes, man.

        • Slade Ham says:

          She misread my name the first day (Slade looks like Salad to a 50 something year old Argentinean woman I guess) and it stuck.

          To this day it remains the only nickname I have ever had. I’ve always wanted one actually but nothing seems to trump Slade.

          Coolers of heads and fried babies. It pairs up nicely, like a good Cabernet does with a ribeye.

        • Amanda says:

          “To this day it remains the only nickname I have ever had. I’ve always wanted one actually but nothing seems to trump Slade.”

          That’s not entirely true…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Perhaps something Puck’ish?

        • Amanda says:

          Among my favorites. We did liken you to Christ once before, though, too…in case you don’t recall. What were we thinking? 🙂

        • Slade Ham says:

          True. Though a righteous comparison does not a nickname make… Then again, that M-word did stick around for a bit.

        • Amanda says:

          Muffin? Good lord, I only said that one time. Let it go.

          Wait. What?

  5. Dana says:

    Holy crap Slade, that motel sounds terrifying. Good to see that all of your reflexes are intact!

    Gallows humor is really one of the best kinds. We laugh because we have to. I may have made some rather inappropriate (Japan) remarks last week that made my sweet, compassionate, devout mom giggle for about 10 minutes.

    Now, what’s the story with you and the pretty kitty?

    • Slade Ham says:

      It’s the only way to handle it, really. Any of the really tragic stuff.

      The cat and I ran into each other in Djibouti. There is a refuge there and I was lucky enough to get to play with this one. My favorite animals ever, cheetahs. It was pretty unforgettable.

  6. Brad Listi says:

    I’m amazed, and sort of envious, when it comes to the stand-up comic life, however brutal it may be at times. Similar to the rockstar, I guess, especially the guys like Dylan and Willie Nelson and the old bluesmen and all the other ones who make their living live, on the road. (The difference of course being that these rockstars often make a helluva living, while the working comic tends to generate a more modest stream.)

    I admire it, man. The doing of it. Beats digging ditches, ya know?

    Keep going.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I would love Willie Nelson money.

      As for continuing to do it, I don’t know that I have a choice anymore. Honestly I’m not sure I know how to do anything else, haha. I’m pretty sure I bled out any other skill sets I used to possess over the last decade, and even if I did stumble into another line of work I could never give up the globetrotting entirely.

      It’s the wanderlust, man. Keeps ya alive.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        For me the travelling aspect is the most appealing part of doing stand up for a living…

        • James D. Irwin says:

          That’s not strictly true. One of the most appealing aspects, but when a show is going well it doesn’t get much better than that.

          Also quite satisfying is when your friends piss you off on St. Patrick’s Day, so you ditch them, walk around, and have several people point at you at shout ‘you’re the guy who runs the comedy night!’

          It’s like being a rockstar, but on a minute scale. Richards is a millionaire, I get free drinks at the bar…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Little rockstars or not, it is pretty cool. People never recognize even the best construction worker in the world on the street.

          And the travel is a really sweet bonus. I’ve seen a lot of the world on other people’s dimes. But even the coolest “vacation” will never beat destroying in a theater full of thousands.

          You can keep heroin.

          Give me more of THAT.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          But at least a construction works as part of a team… a stand up fucks up there isn’t really anyone to help, no-one to blame…

          I’ve not been doing much recently, because I’ve been writing/directing a play for a festival which is a shame…

          I did a show earlier in the year which I kind of feel validates calling myself a stand up. I don’t generate much good material, but I wrote a routine over Christmas, and tried out at a gig in London. The next time I did it was closing the comedy night I host… saved it until the end with the hope that I could end the show on a massive laugh… so I do the routine which has a few laughs here and there, before building a certain level of suspense. I saw a girl literally on the edge of her seat… anyway, it builds to a payoff which brought the place down.

          Hands down the single greatest moment of my life. Really wish someone had recorded it…

          No idea what heroin is like, and although it’s probably healthier than being a stand up, I doubt it’s a much fun…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Good for you. I like that you do comedy, however sporadically. Gives me a sense of fellowship around here. Another warrior in the ranks suffering for the joke, ya know?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Funnily enough this whole exchange has got me really pumped up for the next show… I’ve kind of had too much to do recently to give it my full attention, but fuck, I’d really like to do another set like that…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Perfect. Give it a thousand percent and kick them in the teeth… Do you have any clips up? Have I asked this before?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          There are a few clips up but they’re all really poor quality in both terms of audio and performance. My friend filmed a couple of bits, but he kept zooming which looses the audio and they’re kind of in fragments so the set is missing chunks. Most of what is up is me reading the letters I wrote to famous people which I posted here a while back.

          I hosted a fundraiser though, which was filmed properly. It wasn’t a great show, but it features the material that killed the week before. No idea where that is. Dying to see it myself. I’ll try and find it…

  7. Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

    Am I the only one who was terrified while reading the hotel part?
    Seriously. I was nervous.

    Unfortunately, I too, laughed at the fried baby joke. You’re right Slade, we’re all broken.

  8. Jana G. says:

    Holy crap Slade… I was on the edge of my seat reading that part about the hotel! And I’d probably think the fried baby joke was hilarious if I hadn’t had a baby 6 weeks ago lol

  9. Slade Ham says:

    Yes, maybe my lack of babies is what allows me to laugh at it. Then again, I have nieces that I love like my own and I still laughed.

    Six weeks old is young though. They’re still innocent at that age. Wait until it gets older and starts to be an asshole 🙂 THEN you will laugh at the fried baby, hahaha.

  10. Jana G. says:

    LOL you crack me up. I still laughed too, but not as hard as I normally would have. But I think it has a lot to do with all that crap on the news lately… that asshole that stomped his baby to death, and Jessica Tata…

    Oh I’m sure I will, but right now she’s just the sweetest little girl in the world. Even when she’s crying at 2am! I’m not supermom, it does frustrate me, but she’s worth it.

    Btw… this is totally off subject, but I can’t wait to see you guys at the House of Blues! Gage & I are so excited to see you guys live. : )

    • Slade Ham says:

      Looking forward to that House of Blues show myself…. I will almost certainly be taking a cab to that show as the bartenders in the Foundation Room have a tendency to pour me very tall glasses of James.

      I adore them.

      But I’ll save all that until I’m off stage.

  11. Jason Black says:

    Fried babys and no American Express glad I do have a Visa! O, and the fare is about to hit town. Im crying thats good stuff !

  12. Zara Potts says:

    You make me laugh in all the wrong ways.
    That’s what I love about you.

    You are a lovely wordsmith, Slade Ham. I know you get lots of comments about your humour – but I want to say what a joy you are to read. Your writing is full of detail and it reads so easily. I just wish you posted more. Maybe not about fried babies, but definitely more.
    🙂

    • Slade Ham says:

      Thank you for that, Z. I have been so insanely busy this year so far, I think this may only be my second post of 2011? I intend to try to ease back into a more consistent rhythm though. I really do.

      I also feel awful for not having been more communicative with you since all the happenings in Christchurch. When are you going to be in LA exactly? I would love to see you.

      We are overdue for a compound meeting.

  13. Irene Zion says:

    Slade,

    You lead an unusual life.
    Scary unusual.
    Please be careful where you go.

    (This was well-written, by the way. Scary as shit, but well-written.)

    • Slade Ham says:

      Scary unusual perhaps, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am always careful… or somewhat careful anyway. You can’t take ALL the fun out of things 🙂

      • Irene Zion says:

        don’t get me wrong, Slade,
        I want you to have fun.
        Just be prepared.
        At least have pepper spray, huh?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Funny you say that, while pepper spray isn’t something I would ever carry around on my person, I DO have a can of military grade punch spray in the door of my car that makes ordinary pepper spray look like Febreze.

          Just in case, ya know?

  14. Joe Daly says:

    Holy shit. This one freaked me out.

    Living 35 miles from the Mexican border, we get more than our fair share of the horror stories going on down there. Tijuana has become a ghost town. Even Cabo is getting shitty, although to be fair, it’s always been crappy. It’s just escalated to “shitty” if you’re not in a resort or a tourist trap.

    Anyway man, that gang shit is horrifying. Can you imagine what they would do if they found a chick in one of those rooms? Glad you made it out with your head.

    Oh, and thanks for the tip re: socks in hotel rooms. As someone who used to be on the road weekly, I developed a few survival practices along the way. First was- throw that fucking comforter straight into the corner as soon as you get into the room. They clean those things twice a year. People who don’t remove those sleep under the jizz of thousands. Poor jizzy bastards…

    • Slade Ham says:

      Maaaan, I will chunk a comforter in a split second. I don’t like to be hot when I sleep anyway, but I really don’t like the idea of jizz and scabies.

      It’s the little habits you develop when you travel like this…

      And chicks aside, I’m just good looking enough to be attractive to someone that’s spent a little time in prison 😉

  15. I tried to comment on this piece four times and each time the comment timed out and didn’t post. I was already freaked out enough by reading this… was beginning to think I was being silenced. Yikes. The power of the well-written word. Seriously. I loved the description of your friend’s house, of projects abandoned, a sketch unfinished, the piano bench pulled out and pots on the stove. That’s a placid picture compared to the vile description of your surroundings in the hotel. So glad you are here, alive and writing.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’ve developed the habit of copying a comment before I click submit for that very reason – I’ve lost some gems. Hopefully the cartel doesn’t Google itself very often, hahaha.

      I am grateful for the compliments on the writing. I am always leery when I post something that is not punchline heavy. The company on TNB over the last however long I’ve been here sets such a high bar that I have been forced to focus on so much more than just funny lines. I get excited when I read old stuff of mine (pre-TNB) and see just how amateur a lot of it really was.

      Being surrounded by all of you phenomenal authors has made me work a lot harder than I ever would have on my own.

      So thanks, Robin 🙂

  16. Cristi says:

    Yikes…I happened to be down in South Texas during the same time you were. Even though I had better luck than what you seemed to have. I did have my family calling daily asking if I had witnessed any type of violance or anything. Honestly I thought they were retarded for thinking I would witness such things on this side of Texas. But I guess all I really needed to do is hang out with you for an evening to come back with stories that everyone would like to hear about…even fried baby ones. Poor baby…but it did make me chuckle and made me read the paragraph over and over again just to insure that I was following you correctly.

    On another note I am glad to see you finally write something on here…you always have away to give me a good laugh when I need it the most! 🙂

    • Slade Ham says:

      This kind of thing finds me, I’m afraid. Karma I suppose. I think sometimes that I must have been a baby fryer myself in a past life.

      And South Texas is by no means a dangerous place on the whole. The Valley is full of lovely people in fact. But… it’s definitely there, lurking, on the other side of the river, and occasionally it slips across.

      I’m glad your trip was more uneventful than mine. You’re quite welcome for the laugh.

  17. N247 says:

    Shallow or not, I am starting to feel sad a little bit. I feel like all my world destinations are being cosmically taken from me. Hasta Mexico, and street burgers with avocado and licuados and the best tacos ever (con chile). Stop the violence already. I can’t even wrap my mind around a fried baby and I am from TX, we fry everything.

    And the room situation, there is no way I would of made it out of that one. I would have started laughing my a$$ off, which I do when I am terrified. That would have probably pissed off “Housekeeping” and would have got, got. Am I the only one who laughs when they are terrified? I think ninja kicking the door in, made much more sense. They probably did not expect that one and were stunned just enough for you to get OUt.

    And Japan, damn the government and their need for nukes…. I am way too scared of radiation to visit and take my chances. Sayonara (tear) my friends, as I move on to a different Rosetta Stone language series:(

    • Slade Ham says:

      If you only scratch off one of those places, skip Mexico. I’ve been to some incredible parts of it, but nothing that rivals Japan.

      You have to go to Japan. Once the damage is assessed and the radiation threat is gone, you have to.

      It is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life.

      Parts of Mexico not so much. I do really want a street taco now though. Bad.

  18. RevBart says:

    Just why the F*CK did you think that travelling that close to the border without your Bart in tow was a good idea?? HUH??? Blame SAM?? I DARE you!! He’s the FIRST one thinking “wish Bart was here”…

    Damn. I miss ALL the fun. You guys SUCK…

    • Slade Ham says:

      Sometimes you are scarier than any bunch of gangbangers, hahaha. Plus, if you’d come we would still be down there answering questions.

      “No, Officer. I do not know how three bodies ended up in the bathtub.”

      But I’m gonna blame Sam nonetheless.

  19. Erika Rae says:

    I haven’t even finished yet, but you got me with the fried cilantro and I *had* to say something. First thought was: Dude. Um, it’s green? Second thought: Oh right. Fried. Carry on then.

    • Erika Rae says:

      And now I feel like a total dick making a fried cilantro joke when a fried baby joke was just on the horizon. I mean truly, what could possibly top a fried baby joke? Oh right. Fried cilantro. And what do we call that? Garnish. That’s what.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Fried baby with a side of fried cilantro? That belongs on a hybrid Mexican sushi menu.

        We’ll call it the “Green Toddler Roll”.

        • Erika Rae says:

          If it’s fried, it belongs in sushi. I can’t believe there isn’t some place in Texas that serves a country fried chicken sushi roll with a choice of rice or grits on the side. Sushi. It’s so versatile.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I may have to quit comedy now and open a string of fried sushi restaurants in Texas. Thanks for ruining my life, Erika Rae. Thanks a lot.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Opening a string of fried sushi restaurants in Texas would be a lot of things, but it would “not” be a break with comedy.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I do NOTHING green… you know this. But, I AM trying to work on it. I ate a piece (bite) of asparagus the other day and a piece of zucchini too. If it is cooked down enough I will explore it with my tongue and possibly even eat it.

  20. Richard Cox says:

    You funny guy, Mr. Ham. Sounds like a nice life, traveling around the country, pokin’ locals, fighting with hotel employees, making fried baby jokes.

    This is why I like you, my man.

    • Slade Ham says:

      It does not suck…

      OK soon? Or Houston? Either one – we must find Kraken and James and a few good stories to wash it all down.

      • Erika Rae says:

        I’m still sort of in shock that you actually are a light sleeper. Richard? Do you believe a word of this? Did we or did we not get get flipped the bird for attempting to wake the Slade from the couch?

        Anyway, one month. One month. I am putting in an advance request to be introduced to Kraken.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Sometimes I just pretend to be asleep so that I can hear what people are saying about me 🙂 The bird was honest though… I was sooo tired and hungover.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I have a picture of that bird, actually. So the answer is emphatically yes.

          Can’t believe we didn’t release the Kraken when the Boulder girls were in town. I guess we released enough Jameson to make up for it, though, eh?

          What surprises me the most is how many hours of good footage we secured. I don’t know how I managed to string sentences together or even point the camera in the right direction. Ugh.

        • Erika Rae says:

          That’s because we’re fucking professionals, Richrob. That and you were unbelievably organized. I can’t wait for the screening. Seriously.

          Kraken. Unleash it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You will never hear me lobby for the Kraken. I don’t trust my wrestling skills under the influence of rum.

          So a girl walks into an armbar.

          Waaaaay easier to pull off with some James in the system.

          I also realize that if you weren’t there that night that this comment looks like it is written in code. I assure, it is not.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Wait. Kraken is…rum? Yeah, so I don’t know. I’m not a dirty pirate hooker, you know.

          Code. Heh. Yoamomb. Ratta-ratta. My God, is this my beautiful head? Sporks. Ultimate Baby Face and brave cleavage. And where the hell are these flies coming from? Yep. We’re practically unintelligible.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Oh, and I love an honest bird.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You couldn’t understand us with a Windtalker.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Just wait ’til I start speaking in Dolphin.

        • Slade Ham says:

          *chomp*

        • Richard Cox says:

          I forgot about YOAMOMB. Baaahahahahaha.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Does it disturb anyone but me that we may NEVER know just what that really means? It feels so… unfinished.

  21. Simon Smithson says:

    Man. When it comes to fried babies, it’s either laugh, cry, or pass the ketchup. No in-betweens.

    Christ, that’s messed up.

    I’m glad you didn’t meet your end in a shitty hotel.

    When you go out, it’s got to be the Bellagio or bust!

    • Slade Ham says:

      The upside to a shitty hotel is that it forces you to get out and explore. I stay in a lot of really nice hotels too, and I find myself much more likely to stay propped up on pillows with a book or a remote control.

      Still, they don’t find too many bodies at the Bellagio, which is hardly a bad thing.

      Ketchup, indeed. And a light dusting of salt.

  22. James D. Irwin says:

    It seems like you haven’t posted in ages… I might be wrong, I’ve not been around here much recently.

    Anyway, I fucking love it when you do post. I was expecting a punch too… glad it didn’t come to that.

    Thanks to you I really want a cold bottle of beer. Which is kind of socially inappropriate early on a wednesday morning…

    Hope you had a good st. patrick’s day by the way…

    • Slade Ham says:

      It has been ages. Now that I look at it, this is my first post of the YEAR. Jesus, man.

      St. Patty’s Day went well. We found a pretty decent bar selling $3 pints of St. James Gate’s finest and got an early start. By the time the civilians started showing up, we were nice and toasty and ready to leave. Perfect timing really.

      So it is never inappropriate to crack one open in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        I am finding this year is just flying by…

        $3 pints of Guinness?! Jesus. It’s damn close to £4 for a pint of Guinness in this part of the world. And I swear they put the prices up rather than down in the bar I always seem to end up in.

        I spent most of the night drinking Jameson. There was a lovely girl at the bar who was willing to serve me two doubles at a time in the same glass. Last year they’d only sell the stuff as shots.

        Friends of mine throw a party in the afternoon and insist we go to a chain Irish bar at around six. I stuck to Heineken after what happened last year, although a friend of mine poured me a class of cider he’d bought. 2 litres for £.150…

        So yeah, I usually have an obligation to drink and dance with seemingly everyone else in town like it’s the only place that sells Guinness. Think I mentioned earlier that I wandered off to find other people to talk to…

        It was a lovely day today… I have beer in the fridge too. Would have been nice to sit outside with them…

  23. James D. Irwin says:

    I meant to say something about fried baby jokes.

    I appear on a student radio show, and every time we play a song our producer— a sick, sick man— tries to tell as many sick, twisted jokes as he can.

    No one challenged him, he just does it.

    And everytime we go back on air all the listeners can really hear are three immature guys laughing their heads off whilst the host apologizes…

  24. jmblaine says:

    Those who travel light
    sleep in the car

    A musician friend of mine
    in Nashville
    told me that.

    Nobody tells
    a TNB story like
    the Ham.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Such wise folk, your friends. I won’t say that there have not been several nights spent like that myself. I always laugh when I go on trips with friends or family and they bring suitcase after suitcase after suitcase.

      You can’t climb mountains with all those bags, man.

      You just can’t.

  25. Adam Komar says:

    I like to summarize what I read into one sentence. I summarized this into a checklist, “Don’t go to South Texas without a tan, a scary tattoo, penicillin, a well-written last will and testament and a back-up plan titled: Expendable Baby.”

  26. Alana says:

    Oh my gosh, I’m going to hell. I laughed. I laughed at the fried baby. D: And, then I said, “Ew.” The way you described the hotel made me want to throw up, and I grabbed my own hand when you talked about kicking the door shut. Glad Sam pulled you back in the car, dude. So so so glad. “Nobody tells
    a…story like the Ham.” ~stolen from a previous comment, and so very true.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’ve thanked Sam multiple times already. Sorry about making your hand phantom-hurt, but thanks for the compliments, as always.

  27. Thomas Phillips says:

    I love the line about The Book of Eli. And when you wrote “Housekeeping,” all I could think of was Tommy Boy. LOL.

    • Slade Ham says:

      That Book of Eli hotel looked like the Waldorf compared to this place. I’m pretty sure the men were breaking in to steal my braille Bible.

  28. Becky Palapala says:

    Mexico never seemed all that interesting to me until now.

    Fried baby jokes and a 2 pm beer in the sun sound heavenly. And so far away.

    Fuck you, Minnesota.

    But you should still totally come here.

    In the summer.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      *GASP*

      You should come for the fair. We have fried EVERYTHING. On a stick.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Fair food is amazingly good. I like pork kabobs (the best of the stick foods) and funnel cake and fried twinkies. It’s no wonder all the people that go to them are fat. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been here all March and it is retarded how much badness you can consume.

        Fried beer. For real.

    • Slade Ham says:

      You would enjoy the beer and the hot sun, especially when there’s a shade tree nearby. And especially considering that there are no snowbanks. I was in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. You guys can keep that shit.

      But yes.

      I should.

      Most DEFINITELY in the summer, unless the goal was to watch me die a very whiny death.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        The problem would be that you probably wouldn’t die. You would live to whine on. And on and on.

        Regarding fairs: Believe me. I know.

        MN has the largest state fair in terms of daily attendance in the entire country.

        So not quite everything is bigger in Texas. We have fried beer, too. And deep-fried ice-cream and candy bars and hotdish and…

        • Slade Ham says:

          I was so prepared to argue with you on the State Fair thing, but in daily attendance you do win. In total attendance though, it’s still the great country of Texas. Something like 3 million people last year I think? That’s a LOT of batter and sticks.

          I’m fucking hungry now.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          We get our 1.7 million in 12 days. Even generous estimates of 3 million for the Texas fair’s 24 days is double the days, but not double the people. Ours is also older. This means we win.

          WE WIN.

          I bet you guys don’t even have a butter sculpture. Ha-rumph.

          Cheese curds and funnel cakes, man. They deep fry something new every year, but that’s why I keep going back. Cheese curds and funnel cakes.

          And to walk around with giant overpriced beer, staring and pointing at strange people.

        • Gloria says:

          Fried ice cream is amazing. I’ll bet they serve it in both heaven AND hell.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Haha, that’s really clever 🙂

        • Gloria says:

          Thanks. I just made it up. I’m pretty sure I’ve exceeded my clever quotient for the day. I blew my whole wad here, Slade. For you.

        • Slade Ham says:

          But what a wad it was!

          I’m honored 😉

  29. I keep hearing around these parts that people eat babies. They said it in Korea, too: “Chinese all eat babies.” But I never believed them. But here the Beijingnese say, “In Shanghai they eat babies,” and the Shanghainese say, “In Guangzhou they eat babies.” The rich say the poor do it out of desperation and the poor say the rich do it because they can afford to.

    All I know is I want in on that baby action. Sounds delicious.

    Just kidding.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Oh! You pulled the punch!

      *shakes head*

    • Slade Ham says:

      I almost ended up in China this past week, believe it or not. My brother travels out there for work every now and again and I have a sort of open invite to go with…. so I’m going to pop up in Beijing or Shanghai (he goes to both) sometime this year I think.

      And I bet the babies in both are delicious.

      The rich say the poor do it out of desperation and the poor say the rich do it because they can afford to.

      Hahahahahahahaha.

      • I’ll be in Shanghai at the start of April. Apparently they have two Hooters restaurants there. I’m curious… I’ve never been to Shanghai, but Beijing is amazing. Let me know when you decide to come across. I’ll buy you a fried baby with rice.

    • Dana says:

      ha! Edit it out Wills! Mean it! That was awesome.

  30. pixy says:

    i like the swiftian tone this “fried baby” thing is taking.

  31. Michelle says:

    When I read this it made me remember a Kurt Vonnegut quote “Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.”

  32. I was really nervous reading about your hotel experience, Slade. I’ve attempted to stay at some scary places on tour in dirt-poor bands, but your story tops them all. Glad you escaped unscathed.

    • Slade Ham says:

      When they say you have to pay your dues as an artist, 9 out of 10 times they’re referring to your sleeping arrangements after a show 🙂

  33. Ofelia says:

    That section about your intruder sounded like a scene in a movie. Quite the ninja Sir Ham. It’s pathetic how horrible it’s gotten in Mexico. Most of my family is from Reynosa. The sad thing is that it’s beginning to become “business as usual” in the area. People just try not to leave the house after dark, but they are starting to move around a bit more during the day. The kids are now playing “Transito y Cartel” instead of “Cowboys and Indians.” I just keep praying that no one in my family gets involved in anything. Do not want to have that phone call in the middle of the night.

    Some day Mexico will regain it’s control, but there’s too much corruption and greed on both sides, the cartel’s and the politician’s, to gain any balance. They’re just kids playing with daddy’s loaded gun, and while they feel powerful, they feel invincible. Until they have a gun held to their heads and their lives are about to be ended, they think they’re gods.

    Oh, and yeah, despite myself, I laughed at the fried baby too, guess I should go to confession. Keep writing Slade, I’ll keep reading. 😉

    • Slade Ham says:

      Transito y Cartel. Hahahahahaha. I, too, hope it sorts itself out. I’ve always enjoyed slipping across the border like that, and even more so my trips deeper into Mexico. It has an allure that pulls on me regardless of the current problems. And I certianly hope your family stays safe.

      Now go to confession. A tour bus full of Hell-bound fried baby laughers is loading now at the curb…

  34. That fried baby quip was simply covered in awesomesauce.

    When did you say you’re going back to Tampa? I’ll see what I can workout for the daily special with the guys who run The Taco Bus.

  35. That fried baby quip was simply covered in awesomesauce.

    When did you say you’re going back to Tampa? I’ll see what I can work out for the daily special with the guys who run The Taco Bus.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Oh, I am all over some fried baby tacos. Believe that!

      I’m back in Tampa in September, though I’d have to check the exact week. We are overdue!

  36. D.R. Haney says:

    You’ll have to have a fried baby on the cover of your next comedy record, then remove it, so that the record instantly becomes a collectors’ item, like the Beatles’ butchered-babies cover on Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/6083881

    Oh, and if you want to be really offensive, consider having the baby wrapped in a tortilla.

    (I know talk of record covers is dated in the download era, but give me a little poetic license here, okay?)

    • Slade Ham says:

      That almost makes me want to do a short run of the next album on vinyl. It’s funny that you mention how the digital age has somewhat made album covers obsolete. It is a fact that I accept, yet for some reason I still agonize over the artwork. I even have inside cover art and liner notes for my last release, and it is digital only at the moment. All you get is the front.

      Maybe I need hard copies just to lay the groundwork for the inevitably forthcoming Dead Fried Babies record…

  37. Black Dog says:

    I, too, have been to Progresso many, many times, but none in the last 3 or 4 years. I wonder what the place is like now. Their little schoo behind chain link fence, mud/stucco buildings with no doors or windows, made me sad. I bet I’d be a lot sadder now.

  38. Yeah, ok. So I missed this one. I have no idea how that happened, I’m sorry. It seems almost an insult to leave a comment at this point. But not really.

    This blew me away. You hit hard with this piece and then threw a fucking fried baby on top. Brilliant.

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