Johnny Unicorn Summer Tour 2011 – part two


Saturday, June 25th, Seattle – in the morning, Horace Pickett and I performed on the Viaduct for an audience of hundreds (only one at a time) at the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. All our hopes come true as the day turns out not to be the day of “The Big One.” How ironic would it have been if the Viaduct collapsed and killed only runners? Before the show, I had trouble getting up to the performance area because I was being hassled by a police officer at the entrance ramp for not having a “pass.” Even though I explained that I had to be there to play a show, he would not let me up to the stage. I don’t respond well to authority, so I did an impressive kick in his face, sending bits of sweat and blood into the morning wind. He quickly recovered and drew his gun. I could not match such a weapon with only my hand-to-hand combat skills this early in the morning, so I ran for the edge of the bridge and jumped off, did a flip, and landed in the back of a hay truck. The cop got on his motorcycle and crashed through the cement barrier and flew through the air, but before landing on the street below, he jumped off the motorcycle and almost missed the hay truck, but managed to grab onto the metal pipe that served as the truck’s bumper. It was a good thing for him he was wearing all that leather. His bike crashed to the ground and slid into a fruit stand in a flurry of sparks, wood, and melon bits. The officer climbed up onto the back of the truck and drew his weapon once again. What had I gotten myself into? I dove off the side of the truck and rolled onto the street below. I ran into the nearest building and went into the stairwell. The cop followed me. I ran as quickly as I could up the stairs, periodically looking over the railing to see trailing me about three floors below. He stopped occasionally to shoot aimlessly up into the space between the stairs. This guy was relentless. I wouldn’t be in this mess if I only would have controlled my anger. I finally reached the top of the stairwell and the exit to the fifteenth floor roof. I pushed open the door to confront the hot stink of the tar rooftop. It was dangerous up there because he’d be able to get a clear shot, but i stood a better chance out there than going back down the stairs. I ran across the roof, and jumped to the next building. I looked back to see him swing open the door, scan the rooftops for me and shoot. He missed, fortunately, then he took off after me. We spent a few minutes jumping from roof to roof. He was pretty fast for an old guy, but it seemed as though I was keeping a good distance from him. But then I came to a gap between buildings that was too large to jump. I teetered on the edge for a few seconds, and then finally caught my balance. The officer caught up to me, and stopped to catch his breath. He told me that I was cornered, and indeed it seemed I was. We stared at each other for what seemed like hours. I could see the folds of the skin around his eyes glistening with sweat as he squinted into the sun. He came across as an old tiger, savoring the fear of his prey; not wanting to end the hunt right away. I took another look at the building across the gap. Perhaps I could make it. At least I stood a chance of surviving if I could escape the rooftop. A pigeon cooed, and his eyes very briefly moved toward the sound. Without another thought, I broke into a run, and with all my strength, hurled myself across the gap toward the other building. It seemed to take forever. I screamed as I tried to move my muscles in such a way that they the momentum would pull me through the air faster. I thought back to footage I’d seen of flying snakes. If I could become the snake…but how? Hopefully instinct would take over. Perhaps it did, I’ll never know. But I made it to the other side. I looked back to see the cop attempt the same jump. He could not quite make the jump, but he did grab onto the building ledge. I was still on my side, catching my breath from the jump. I crawled over to where the cop was struggling on the edge, and looked down into his eyes. He did not say a word, but his eyes said everything. He wasn’t ready to die. Not yet. I looked into his eyes and I could see a lifetime of pain and love. What a shame it would be for this man to die so needlessly. Perhaps he had family waiting for him. Maybe he was about to retire. I would not be able to live with myself if I just walked away. I reached out my arm and asked him to grab on. Still looking into each others eyes, we shared a moment. Without words, we communicated the truth: we were not pursuer and pursuee anymore, we were humans, and we were in this together. Still without speaking, he reached for my hand and grabbed it. But he was running out of strength, and I could feel the sweat-covered fingers slipping out of my hand. He opened his mouth to speak. His moustache fluttered in the breeze. He said “break a leg” and before I could think about it, he slipped out of my hand and fell to his death in the alley below. I said a silent prayer, and then I went to the show.

Later that night, I had a show in Yakima, WA at the Rec Room Bar and Grill. This was the first show of my solo tour. A few people showed up and we had a very good time. The other act was a guy named Navid Elliot, who is a very good acoustic performer, who plays locally in Yakima as his main job. I met some very nice people and had a very nice time. I hope to come back. From there I went to La Grande, OR and performed without a PA system at White House Coffee. it was an actual house, and it was an intimate show, and the audience was very attentive and pleasant. I think I played pretty well for not having a microphone or a keyboard. The next show I did was by myself for a crowd of rowdy drunks at a bar called the Haufbrau in Bozeman, MT. People were in and out, and I think more would have stayed if I had played more dance tunes. So I made a pact with myself to prepare more dance numbers for those sorts of occasions. I have a lot of different versions of my show, but I never thought to have a version of the show that was just dance music most of the way through. In this situation, I was the dj, and instead of giving them what they wanted, I could only give them what I had. Next time I will be more prepared. But it was still a great night, and the people I met there were awesome. In Dickinson, ND, I played a show at a local restaurant called Samson’s, which kind of had the vibe of a TGI-Friday’s. Again, I was not equipped for this sort of “background music” performance, so I did my best. Luckily, I had Mike Swenson there to play half the show, and not leave me fumbling to try to figure out what to play next. Also, he brought the PA. If it had not been for him, it would have been a boring show, indeed. We ended up joining an ancient wizard on a journey to the top of a nearby mountain, where we searched for a magical crystal and had to battle a talking statue. Mike does a very good acoustic version of “Poparazzi.” The next day, I went to Minot. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

Thanks for listening,
Please tip your barista
-Johnny U

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