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“Dude, Where’s My Hometown?”

It’s funny: one time this girl working at the White Castle in downtown Indianapolis, on South St., didn’t know where South Bend, Indiana was, or WHAT it was. It could have been an unorthodox equine fur hat, for all she knew. She was like, what’s that? Or where’s that? (Meridian Ave. in downtown Indy turns directly into US-31, which then in turn turns directly into Michigan St., South Bend’s main downtown thoroughfare, for the record.)
Umphrey’s Mcgee is a “jam band,” so to speak, from my own hometown, which has made the habit in the past of covering Michael Jackson in the form of “The Girl is Mine,” in addition to many other cover selections of theirs which range from Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same” and “That’s the Way,” Bob Marley’s “Trenchtown Rock,” The Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” and The Beatles’ medley on side b of Abbey Road. Like all popular music which eventually makes it big out of northern Indiana, whether it’s Michael Jackson, Freddie Gibbs, Jlin or The Rivieras’ classic rendition of “California Sun,” their music is supremely danceable. 2017 marked the band’s 20th anniversary of their genesis and you could not find them in South Bend in a body bag. There were no festivities. South Bend held its annual summer festival, which has had about 20 different names in the last 20 years, this year taking on the modest and classy form of “Best. Week. Ever.” They did Michael Jackson crap. They did God knows what else. Actually, Everclear played there, one of my favorite bands, a band whose shirt I used to wear in high school.
I lived back in South Bend from 2014 to 2016 and now live down in Terre Haute. The South Bend Tribune just ran a story about tap takeovers last month. The first tap takeover mentioned in the copy: the December 2014 Burn ‘em event at O’Rourke’s public house, at which, you guessed it, I was in attendance, downing every brand of dark beer from Dark Side of the Moo milk stout, to Slaugh rye stout (bring that one back dag nabbit), to their porter they made, along with the three stouts. Someone was equipped for winter and what a winter it was. Shout out to Steph at O’Rourke’s for all the hookups and general lady-bartender awesomeness.
Other than that, what’s going on? Right down state, right past the Indianapolis NCAA headquarters, Rick Pitino, rival of John Calipari whose schools perennially get sanctioned after he leaves, just got ousted from college basketball for… no particular reason, other than of course his Louisville Cardinals were an in-state rival threat to John Calipari and the University of Kentucky. While the rest of the world is tuning in to great virtuoso Tyrod Taylor on the Bills and Tom Brady’s Patriots, Indy is still obsessed with that whole players kneeling thing, in place of whatever other petty scandal they can cook up whether it’s Deflategate or banning gays from public events, whatever.
And yet, we’re between Chicago and Detroit. Almost more so than possible. Skip Chicago, that’s my advice. Read the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website, pecker them until they let Jethro Tull in, and listen to Detroit’s Howlin’ Diablos.
There’s such a thing as pretending a place doesn’t exist and there’s such a thing as driving a Ford Pinto up into the atmosphere until your lips cloak the cellophane ceiling.

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