In the summer of 1995, Krautmiser went on tour through the Midwest. It culminated in a final show in Doug McEachern's basement in Pennsylvania, where all good things must come to an end. Amazingly, a video of the show survives, and even more amazingly, we're going to feature it here. Krautmiser aficionados may recognize the deep tracks "Daft Benefactor" and "Puck's Theme," previously thought lost forever.
On this tour, a Vietnam vet in Sandusky was close to starting a fight with us; in South Bend, we took all the couches, tables, chairs, indeed every stick of furniture, out of Jules and Jack's house and burned them in a midnight bonfire, causing the fire department to attempt to pay us a visit--a failed attempt, for Cripe Street was under construction; we enjoyed an enchanted evening with St. Louis' own Beatle Bob; and our roadie went AWOL from the Army.
Those are the true Krautmiser stories. Here is a fake Krautmiser story, which James wrote on tour and read aloud before Krautmiser's show at a coffeehouse in Kansas City.
Krautmiser didn't intend to go on tour in that humid summer of '95. The boys had decided to take time off from the music for a while and go prospecting for gold in the Ozarks. You may find it hard to imagine those dapper young men of leisure sweating in the afternoon sun as they toil with rock picks and chisels, but make no mistake: a gaggle of pale effete aesthetes Krautmiser is not. Although Krautmiser's streetfighting days were behind them, their pugilist's strength and endurance remained: indeed, the London Times, reported that not only was Krautmiser rumored to have participated incognito in shady prizefighting tournaments, but that drummer Jack Howard had actually killed a man in the ring—a revelation that scandalized a nation. Protective mothers forbade their daughters from attending Krautmiser shows, tut-tutting that "if those lads can't control themselves in the ring, how do you think they'll treat a young lady?"
In any case, as the rest of Krautmiser was panning for gold in the Arkansas River deep in the heart of the Ozarks, Jules Dingle, Krautmiser guitarist, struck the mother lode. "Gold! Gold! Gold, I tell you, boys, gold!" Jules bellowed from the side of the mountain as he rappelled down. Krautmiser's eyes opened wide at the sight of the vein Jules had uncovered in the side of the mountain. What a windfall! Finally, Krautmiser would have enough money to buy a moon rocket. This was a longtime dream of vocalist Dave McMahon's, and only reluctantly revealed after one too many white wine spritzers at a local saloon. "Daddy always said, son, you gotta be a moon man," Dave slurred as he swung his bottle around in a clumsy arc. "He always said I was his little moon man. Dad always said, son, you gotta go to the moon. Damnit!" Dave threw his bottle to the ground. "Who am I kidding? I'll never make it to the moon. I ain't nothin' but another chump in a suit. They don't let chumps on the moon, I hear! Oh, what's the use! I'll never be an astronaut! Pour me another drink there, Kennedy—I'm blubbering like a baby."
But now it looked like Dave's crying days were over. "Finally," muttered bassist James Kennedy as he swung his rock hammer into the mountain, "we won't have to listen to that sniveling buffoon weep into his pillow every night about his precious moon."
It took days for Krautmiser to mine the gold, but at the end of the week, all the ore was packed into Krautmiser's stagecoaches. It was only then that Krautmiser had their first fateful run-in with Old Man Grizzard—the self-proclaimed "Master of the Mountain" who headed his own obscure cult of renegade hillmen and unsavory ex-rangers.
"Varmints! Cotton-pickers! Carpetbaggin' scalawags!" spat the grizzled old prospector, waggling his rock pick accusingly in Krautmiser's direction. "That there's my gold you're totin', boys!"
As always, Jules Dingle was calm and cool and ready with his acid tongue. "By what rights, you locust-eating old coot? Out of our way, or we will be forced to strike you."
"Goddamned city boys—I'll keelhaul the lot of ya!" sputtered Old Man Grizzard. "I'll have you know that this is my land you're standing on—and I suggest you clear off in a hurry—sans that gold, of course!"
"Your land, huh?" Jack Howard asked skeptically. "Prove it."
"Why, I just happen to have the deed right here," said Old Man Grizzard. And out of the right breast pocket of his flannel shirt he produced a crumpled, yellowed legal document. "See here, boys, this mountain has belonged to me since eighteen-ought-four!"
James Kennedy scanned the document with a critical eye, bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge of nineteenth-century American colonial law to bear on it. "This is all well and good, Mr. Grizzard, but not only is this document improperly notarized, but it also has its basis in an archaic Missouri statute that was struck down by the Supreme Court's landmark 1837 Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge decision, in which then-Chief Justice Roger B. Taney established the policy of 'eminent domain.' In other words, this land belongs to no one—and therefore, the gold we mined belongs to us."
"Flamin' hootenannys of sweet Jesus! I own this land de facto!" snarled the ornery mountain man. Burly, gamey-smelling figures stepped out of the shadows, fingering the triggers of their muskets. Old Man Grizzard chuckled to himself. "You drop that gold right now, fellers—or I'll fill your behinds so full of lead that you'll never have to worry about atomic radiation again for the rest of your lives."
"Your deadly uranium is our morning tea," riposted Jack Howard airily. Rolling up his shirtsleeves, he turned to Krautmiser. "Boys! Shall we scrap a bit with these hillbillies for our hard-earned gold?"
Dave McMahon, tears brimming in his wide, innocent eyes, stepped forward. "I've never wanted anything in my life so much as a moon rocket," he said, voice cracking a little. He shook a tiny trembling fist. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get it. I say we fight, guys."
"Then it's settled," smirked James Kennedy as he finished changing into his purple-and-yellow spandex fighting gear, complete with glitter and lace ruffles. "Let's throw down, you inbred honkies—and let me teach you a new meaning of 'squatter's rights.'"
And so the brawl began. "Man, those gymkata lessons sure are coming in handy," muttered Jules Dingle as he delivered a roundhouse kick to Old Man Grizzard's chin from off the pommel horse, ending in a triple reverse flip and flawless recovery that brought the judges' table to their feet. "Gottinhimmel!" shouted the notoriously difficult-to-please German judges in exultant joy. "A new Mary Lou Retton for a new unified Fatherland!"
"Sorry, boys," said Dingle as he wiped his brow. "But my heart and my incomparable gymkata skills belong to the good ol' U. S. of A. Good luck in '96, guys—you'll need it."
Soon Krautmiser had dispatched all of the mountain men. Only Old Man Grizzard was left standing.
"Hogtied! Hornswaggled!" howled Old Man Grizzard impotently, jumping up and down in rage. "You done put some kinda hex on my boys or somethin'—this ain't right! Tain't natural!"
"Nothing magical about it at all," replied James Kennedy as he wiped blood and spittle from his hands with a pre-moistened lemon-scented towelette. "Just the usual skills one picks up when one has to fight one's way out of an Iranian prison with nothing but one's own bare knuckles and a first edition of Brideshead Revisited."
And so Krautmiser boarded their stagecoaches and left the Ozarks for good. But even as they pulled away from the mountains, they could still hear Old Man Grizzard's mad ravings:
"This ain't the end! No, not by a sight!" hollered the crusty codger. "I'll pursue you gold-heistin' varmints up and down this great land of ours—I'll strap on my magic nose and smell the roads for your droppings—I'll pursue you in the dead of night from city to city, soiling my own undergarments in the sheer thrill of the chase. O! Young Krautmisers! You have stolen gold from the wrong man. For as you can see, I am more than a man—I am a man who is even now wetting himself."
And so began Krautmiser's 1995 summer tour. Pursued by gold prospector Grizzard, Krautmiser flitted from St. Louis—to Oklahoma City—to Kansas City—to Chicago—to Sandusky—to South Bend—to Pittsburgh—to Philadelphia—to Newtown, PA—and finally to the moon, where Krautmiser had their lunar showdown with Old Man Grizzard in the barren wastes of the Sea of Tranquility.
A new addition to the Krautmiser cast: our roadie, the indefatigable Puck
Naturally, none of it could've been done without the help of Krautmiser's resourceful roadie Puck. Three cheers to Puck, who was always on hand with the right quip, riff, or farming implement to help Krautmiser out of a tight situation. Puck’s unparalleled beekeeping skills have saved Krautmiser from Dr. Hexagon's "flesh hive" more than once. An accomplished linguist, Puck once compiled a definitive Etruscan-to-English dictionary—essentially, the elusive "holy grail" of classical liguistics—during his off-hours on one of Krautmiser’s international tours. However, as soon as Puck completed the massive scholarly opus, he just as deliberately and soberly burned it, if only to spite the hidebound academic establishment that had jealously expelled him from their ranks so many bitter years ago. And, of course, every schoolchild knows that Krautmiser would be in Davy Jones’ locker at the bottom of the Challenger Deep had not Puck single-handedly outwitted the merciless Emperor Gionko and his cadre of pinochle-playing robots at their own game. The beloved tale was produced by Universal Studios as a full-length motion picture, starring Emmanuel Lewis as Puck, the Facts of Life girls as Krautmiser, and the 1985 Chicago Bears as the scheming yet fickle Emperor whose lust for potpourri spray and brass knickknacks was—ironically enough—his own undoing.
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