On the Road Again

September 29-Back to the Northeast: Squirrel Country

by Lenny Hughes

So it begins.

The Grand Tour started last week in beautiful New Hampshire-Portsmouth, to be precise. It was there we learned during Lewis's "Rant" segment that SQUIRRELS have taken over the state.

"Squirrel Apocalypse!" he shouted to the crowd at the Music Hall, responding to one of the submissions to his Web site mailbag. The audience went bonkers, screaming in support of the concept.

It seems the rodent overrun has plagued the Live Free or Die state and resulted in piles of road-kill carcasses along the highways. Apparently, the squirrels are choosing not to "live free."

"Can't you control your squirrels?!" Lew fired back. The crowd went nuts.

On our way to the next show in Keene, New Hampshire, we could see they weren't kidding in Portsmouth. On one stretch of the shoulder, there were at least a dozen corpses within a 10-foot stretch of the highway. Lewis told the audience at Keene's Colonial Theatre, "It looked like Gettysburg."

Control your squirrels!


Music Hall Welcome

Portsmouth History

Colonial Theatre

Our last stop of the weekend was the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a picturesque little town tucked away in the Berkshire Mountains.

(We were consumed with football on the way. I was obsessed with the incredible Saints' defeat of Atlanta. It was a good day for Lew's Redskins and John's Lions, too.)

I got a couple cool books before the show at the Yellow House book shop: a paperback of the Beatles' "Help!" and Kierkegaard's "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" (which of course I'll read...Walker Percy said it was the first book of the existentialist he could understand).

Great Barrington

Yellow House Book Shop

Mahaiwe Theatre

The show was a fine capper to the weekend, which included, among other highlights, John's zany imitation of Rudy Giuliani, and his drastically effective promotion of the bobbleheads.

John Bowman

John Giuliani

It was a nice weekend overall. The Portsmouth Music Hall is a grand old place built in 1878, on the site of one of the country's earliest meeting places. The drives to Keene and Great Barrington were beautiful and green as we climbed into the mountains. Only a few trees had turned color-climate change has them baffled, too (or maybe it has something to do with the squirrels).

This weekend, we travelled to the Paramount in Peekskill, New York, near the Hudson, and it ended after two shows in Red Bank at the Count Basie Theatre, which is undergoing extensive expansion.

It was a little different this trip, because Frank, our loyal bus driver, was home taking care of some family business, and I missed his roadside observations, though Todd, our substitute, was a pleasant chap.

I rather like Red Bank. It has a few nice antiques/curios shops, though it could use a good second-hand book store. I hit a couple shops before the Friday gig, and came up empty-handed. But on Saturday, Zeke told me about a few books at Jack's Music, and I scored some good ones, including "Bizarre New Orleans," an out-of-the way guide to lesser-known facts about the Big Easy.

I also hit Monmouth Street Emporium, a very nice, reasonably-priced antiques shop, where I actually STOLE a book on shipwrecks off Cape May.

I didn't MEAN to do it! I put down a bag from Jack's, right on top of the book, and no one noticed, including myself, that I walked right out with it after making a couple purchases.

I ran back to the store to pay for it (not a bad little book, and it was only two bucks). They were so surprised that I'd stolen it, and even more bemused that I brought it back, that they didn't even charge tax.

For the Red Bank weekend, we were holed up just outside of town, and between the two shows I had the chance to resume my travelogue writing, and to catch a couple old NCIS New Orleans episodes.

Saturday night, it was back to Secaucus and fond farewells. And next morning, at the crack of dawn, I caught the Russian Grand Prix on ESPN2.

Took the train home that day, in time to see the Beloved New Orleans Saints knock off the hapless New York Giants. Wuhoooo!

Peekskill Paramount


NOLA in Red Bank

I'm taking next weekend off, leaving the Merch Circus in Zeke's capable hands for the romp through Akron, Indianapolis and Chicago. But I'll be back on the road the following week when we land in Atlantic City's Borgata casino.

Talk to you then,

Your Road-Dog Pal,