Crazy Dave and the accidental sunken lounge
I had never been to Iowa. This past weekend was the first time in a long while that I’ve visited a state that I’d never previously been to. This is something that I’ve always pointed out as one of the weird perks of traveling to bike races. I endlessly end up going to places that I would never otherwise go. If I were working an office job in Boston, I’d probably go somewhere cool for vacation every once in a while, but I doubt I’d go to Iowa City. Or Cincinnati. Or the Czech Republic.
Bike racing has taken me to a lot of places over the years; some of them exotic, but most of them not. I don’t think a lot of my peers in Boston have been to the northern tip of Idaho, nor have they spent seven days sleeping in their car in the hills of West Virginia.
One of the things I love about traveling the bike-race circuit is the randomly imposed travel. I’ve always been someone who wants to go, see, and do, but I have a hard time doing it without a purpose. I’m not really the vacation type. I like the feeling of being plunked down somewhere random in Europe, or Japan, or Indiana, and soaking in the area while I’m working. Work is an adventure for me, and it is as rewarding as a resort island vacation.
On Sunday night, on a rare occasion, the whole BTB TV crew was together, held up in Iowa by a storm in Chicago. We all retreated from the airport to the hotel assigned to us by the airline. When we arrived, we were all jonesing for a drink, and from the look of the lobby, it seemed like they didn’t have a bar. It turned out they did, but it was tucked way back in the building’s west wing. It was our lucky day, because it was 8:30 p.m. and the bar closed at 9.
One of BTB TV’s shooters, Amanda, and I ditched out on checking in and went straight for it. We walked down the hall into a completely empty bar. The bartender emerged from the back room as we took a seat. Interestingly, this place didn’t have normal bar stools. They had low, lounged-out, vinyl chairs. It was pretty much straight out of 1973, but everything was in really good shape.
We got some beers, and the other BTB TV crew members started to cruise in. We started to talk with the bartender; his name was Dave, and his nickname was “Crazy Dave.” He had earned his nickname in his early days bartending downtown and breaking up fights. He had been working at this hotel bar for 12 years, and knew a lot about the history. The original owner had gained inspiration for the bar by taking a few trips to Vegas and learning about “Pit Bars,” which were in fashion at the time then. That’s why the bar and all the seats were low. It had a very loungy atmosphere.
Then “Crazy Dave” typed the secret code into the jukebox and put on some John Prine. It was a great night spent with some of my best friends, and a very entertaining new friend, laughing and having a great time. It was just as good as a vacation, but we were there by accident and with no intention of being there that night.
“Crazy Dave” kept the place open until 10 for us, which was right when our jukebox credits ran out. It worked out perfectly. We all bid “Crazy Dave” farewell and shuffled off to bed, all of us ready for the next town, the next story, and the next good time.
Director/Producer, Behind The Barriers