NOTE FROM SHADY: I originally wrote this article over a year ago, back when I was a regular contributor to the “MKE” blog community Blog Party.
Of course, “MKE” is now gone, and with it all of the Blog Party posts. But I managed to save this one post because, in addition to it being one of my most-read posts, it caused quite a stir and barrage of hate mail after being published.
So I’ve decided to archive this article here to ensure that the story it tells will live on forever.
The post is a true account of a chilly winter night I experienced at a bar in Milwaukee. A night that would go on to become legendary. A night that all came to a head because of one man: Pat MacDonald from the band Timbuk3.
Someone got their panties in a bunch tonight! Who? Pat MacDonald of the “legendary” band Timbuk3.
“Who?” you may ask.
“Exactly,” I would reply.
Timbuk3, in case you’re a normal person and have no clue who they are, is the awesome eighties band that brought you classics like “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” and… no, that’s about it.
Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself. Lemme back up.
I was totally content tonight sitting my donkey in front of the television and drinking cans of free Miller High Life from my fridge. But a friend of mine, MKE’s own Lille Bose, called my cell phone around nine o’clock to inform my girlfriend and me that she and her sister would be doing open mic at Linneman’s around 10. Linneman’s is a cool bar on Locust in Riverwest, and I’ve always had a good time there. So don’t let what I’m about to say affect the way you think about the place.
We got there, ordered some drinks and grabbed a table. Off the top of my head, I probably knew ten or so people there, and there weren’t that many more people in the place outside of us MKE kids. That is to say that Lille really made an effort to get people out to the bar to support her and her sister. Also in attendance was Adam Lovinus, who also was going to take the stage later in the evening.
The night started off great: A few locals went up and did their thing, and then Lille and her sister went up. In the context of this post it doesn’t mean much, but they did great. A few other people graced the stage until, finally, the local legend who is Pat MacDonald took the stage.
Now, I have to be honest here: I had no idea who he was. Even with the owner talking about Timbuk3 early in the night, I still had no clue. But I’m open to anything, man. Seriously. Anything but being treated like a beotch. Little did I know that would be a factor in a very short amount of time.
Of course, we could have taken off after Lille played. After all, she was the person we had come to see. But we were having a good time hanging out and taking in the other musicians, so I kept my bar tab open.
And then Pat MacDonald began to play.
You’re already well aware of the slant of this post, reader, so I’m sure you’re ready for me to be like, “That guy was total crap! He sucked it!” But the truth of the matter is that he was really, really good. Honestly. He strummed his guitar and blew into his harmonica with a grace that most musicians can’t sport with one instrument, let alone two.
Because of this, everyone at our table was shocked. Lille leaned over to me and said, “He’s really good, huh?” I agreed.
We all sat there watching him, enjoying the music, our drinks, the night.
“Do you guys like The Black Keys?” I asked, because his sound reminded me a bit of their’s.
Both Adam and Lille agreed.
Suddenly, a skinny woman with dark hair, who was clearly there with Pat, approached our table.
“Ah,” she muttered, ”I just want to let you know that I can hear you all the way across the room,” and then promptly scuttled off to the other side of the bar.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that this was a polite way of saying, “Shut the F-word up.”
But you know what? No crap you can hear us talking, creepy lady! You put that together all on your own? The room where this was all taking place is about as big as my basement. It’s not like your buddy is playing Red Rocks! He’s playing the open mic night at Linneman’s for a crowd of twenty in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! Get over yourself!
I looked across the table to Lille and Adam and said, “I think we should go. Now.” They agreed, and we all got up to hit the door.
At this point, I still wasn’t pissed. Yeah, MacDonald’s “pal” came over and told us to be quiet, so we left. Fair enough. You know, we could have been huge penises and stuck around, but instead we opted to just let it slide and leave.
We hadn’t even finished putting our coats on before MacDonald stopped mid-song to add his two cents: “Awww… Did she offend you?” he asked.
Lille replied softly, “Yes. But we did think you were awesome.”
MacDonald then asked, “Then why the f— don’t you stay?”
You know why, you jag? Because I’ve got more important things to do than sit in a corner bar and listen to some half-rate musician (whose “career” I have to look up on Wikipedia to get familiar with it) while he attempts to unsuccessfully berate me in front of his seven fans. The future’s so bright that you’ve gotta wear shades? Really? Funny, because you’re such a glaring A-hole that I’ve gotta wear shades!
(As a sidenote, MacDonald insists that his name be spelled “pat mAcdonald” in print. Seriously. This is supposedly to distinguish him from the hamburger fast food chain. Yeah, like that was going to cause confusion. Especially, WHEN THEY’RE SPELLED DIFFERENTLY!)
On our way to the door someone yelled to MacDonald, “We love you!”
Big deal, man. So you got some of your cousins to show up. Hard core.
I quickly cashed out my $22 tab and headed for the door with my fellow MKE kids in tow. As soon as I hit that door I knew I’d be writing this blog tonight before I hit the sack.
Still, let me be clear here: Linneman’s is a great, great bar. I’ve never had anything but a wonderful time there, and would encourage each and every one of you to visit them soon and often. It’s not their fault. Blame that instead on Pat MacDonald, his rude groupie/manager/girlfriend/warlord of Snake Mountain, and MTV for making him think he was someone, if only for a second.