The Official Unwound Tour Diary

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On September 6, Numero Group will release Kid Is Gone, a 34-track triple LP documenting Unwound's output from 1991-1992. Kid Is Gone is the first of four reissue boxes planned to span the band's entire career. Preorder is available on Numero Group. To celebrate the release, Chopped Liver reached out to David Wilcox, roadie and friend to the band who also penned liner notes for Kid Is Gone, about re-publishing his 2001 account of the influential Olympia, Washington band's on-the-road food selections. At the dawn of a new beginning, let's take a look at some of the last meals the band shared.

In August 2001, I was hired as the roadie on what would prove to be the final tour for Unwound. It started off as a pretty standard deal—a full month around the U.S., with an additional week down the west coast — but when we reached the east coast, 9/11 happened, and that, along with some internal issues the band was dealing with, had everyone feeling out of sorts, to say the least.

Not long after 9/11, we did a show in Athens, Georgia. At the end of the night, for reasons I can't recall (boredom, most likely), I pulled out a notebook and asked everyone what they'd had to eat that day. The next night, in Atlanta, I did it again. By the third day, it had become something we were all taking very seriously. People started updating me every few hours just so they wouldn't forget specifics. So much of what was happening around us was depressing and fucked up; I think this represented one of the rare moments during the day when we could all remember we were friends and that tour, hard as it could be, was supposed to be fun.

Personally, all I can think when I read the food diary now is that I didn't really know how to write yet. (“Thusly,” David? Really?) But more than a decade after the fact, complete strangers still seem to be getting a kick out of our weird little inside joke, and that makes me smile.

Monday, September 17, 2001 (Carrboro, North Carolina to Athens, Georgia)

Justin Trosper – Clif Bar; Quizno’s vegetarian sub; trout with Texas caviar, rice, mashed potatoes, corn muffin
Sara Lund – Odwalla Bar; Quizno’s vegetarian sub, carrot cake; fried green tomato sandwich, vegan plantain and corn chowder, cornbread; mini quiche, chips and salsa (courtesy of wedding reception)
Vern Rumsey – Ninety nine cent chicken nuggets, 99 cent bacon cheeseburger (Wendy’s); two mini quiches; three Polish dogs with comeback sauce
Brandt Sandeno – Quizno’s baja chicken sub; strawberry banana anti-oxidant smoothie; chicken cheese quesadilla, carrots/broccoli/dip, chips and salsa (courtesy of wedding reception); two Polish dogs with comeback sauce
Dave Stone – Trout with Texas caviar, garden salad; bean and rice burrito (Taco Bell); chips and salsa (courtesy of wedding reception)
Dave Doughman – Quizno’s mesquite chicken with bacon sub, Fritos; two chicken tacos; one Polish dog with comeback sauce
David Wilcox – Quizno’s vegetarian sub; trout with Texas caviar, collard greens, corn muffin; mini quiche, three pieces of cheese, chips and salsa (courtesy of wedding reception)

Comments – Our sole visit to Quizno’s was on this day, where we all ordered “small” subs that were twice as large as anything you could possibly fit in your mouth. Declared inedible unanimously. Soundcheck at the 40 Watt in Athens took place at 3 in the afternoon to accommodate an employee’s wedding reception scheduled for later in the day. We were all invited to stick around and make short work of the finger foods thusly. “Polish dogs with comeback sauce” are an experience pushed nightly by the amiable vendor stationed outside the club — totally addictive grease tubs perfect for combating the churning sea of Absu one’s stomach becomes after too much alcohol intake, it's garnish so named either in reference to the fact that you’ll be back for more or that you’ll be reliving the flavor as it swims back upstream.

Analysis – Hats off to Mr. Vern Rumsey, not merely for the bird he flipped his intestines in the form of staggering meat consumption (which was nearly matched by both Doughman and Brandt), but for maintaining such a fine balance of frugality (manifested at the Wendy’s 99 cent bar) and elegance (a petit fours to accompany your quiche, sir?).

Gold Star – Vern Rumsey

Tuesday, September 18, 2001 (Athens to Atlanta, Georgia)

Justin – Bean and rice cheese melt thing-y; strawberry shortcake popsicle; Toast Chee peanut butter crackers; grouper with broccoli and potatoes; chocolate mousse
Sara – Bagel with tomato; cheese, tomato and corn over rice thing-y, side of okra; galactic pop; Fritos; spinach ravioli with walnut pesto; chocolate mousse
Vern – Steak and cheese sandwich; “weird ice cream with strawberry topping;” Fritos Flavor Twists
Brandt – Red burrito, corn, rice; pasta with dill sauce and homemade sausage; chocolate mousse
Stone – Falafel, corn chips; tagliatelli with radicchio and black truffle sauce
Doughman – Cup of black bean chili, pita pizza; strawberry and raspberry smoothie; chocolate eclair ice cream bar; 13 Jelly Bellies; Peanut M&M's; two slices cheese and pineapple pizza; chocolate mousse
Wilcox – Veggie burger, corn chips; grouper with potatoes, broccoli; tiramisu

Comments – The 18th was memorable as not only my 27th birthday, but also our final night on tour with Mecca Normal and Thrones. To commemorate this two-fold occasion we all went and had dinner at an Italian restaurant near the Echo Lounge, which explains why our food selections here reach a descriptive high-point.

Analysis – Mr. Rumsey’s flowery description of his dessert and steel-willed commitment to culinary populism amongst a table full of food snobs nearly nets him a repeat as champ, but look at Mr. Doughman’s line—such variety, and 13 jelly bellies?! That more than offsets whatever meager nutritional value could be found in his smoothie.

Gold Star – Dave Doughman

Wednesday, September 19, 2001 (Atlanta, Georgia to Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

Justin – Potato soup, cornbread; peanut butter crackers; Snicker's ice cream bar; PayDay; fish 'n' chips
Sara – Split pea soup, cornbread; cookies 'n' cream sandwich; hot and sour big soup noodle bowl; gulf fish po'boy, slaw, potato salad
Vern – Red Bull, Fritos Flavor Twists
Brandt – Split pea soup, cornbread; Outpost brand beef jerky; Toast Chee peanut butter crackers; buffalo wing and blue cheese potato chips; tuna fish sandwich (from gas station); fish po'boy, slaw, potato salad
Stone – Potato soup, cornbread; hot and sour big soup noodle bowl; gulf fish po'boy, fries; Toblerone bar
Doughman – Two pancakes, three strips bacon; six Pixie Sticks; two bags Cheez-Its; neapolitan ice cream sandwich; six mini powdered donuts; frosty, jr. cheeseburger deluxe (Wendy’s); peanut M&Ms
Wilcox – Tofu sandwich, onion rings; Snicker's ice cream bar; pretzel cheddar Combos; fish 'n' chips

Comments – As is probably not too difficult to discern, we spent all day driving and subsisted on shit gas station food, with two notable exceptions: first, we ate at a vegan soul food restaurant next door to our hotel for breakfast, owned and operated by Black Hebrews. Justin ordered coffee only to be informed by our waiter that vegan restaurants “don’t serve coffee.” We all responded with silence, each of us convinced that everyone else there gathered knew perfectly well why vegan restaurants don’t serve coffee. No one actually did. We also stopped for dinner at the Treasure Bay Casino in Biloxi, Missouri, where we ate some of the worst food of the entire tour and drank the casino’s special “micro-brew,” Golden Dagger lager. It sold for $3 a pitcher and tasted like someone had diluted a pitcher of Miller Lite with glacial runoff. A country cover band called the Mustang Sallys, seemingly assembled from Coyote Ugly casting call rejects, played Dixie Chicks covers while we ate. They were the most pleasant thing about the dining experience.

Analysis – Vern spent the first of several days with an uncooperative stomach and all he could hold down was Red Bull and Fritos. An amazing specimen. Still, you can’t judge a player’s performance when they don’t really get off the bench. Even with the healthy cup of soup he sucked down, Brandt’s combination of buffalo wing potato chips, beef jerky, and Texaco tuna fish was a special feat; but there’s no way anyone could hope to compete with Dave Doughman’s mock-diabetic suicide. It really had to be seen to be believed.

Gold Star – Dave Doughman

Thursday, September 20, 2001 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Houston, Texas)

Justin – Fruit smoothie, protein bar; catfish po'boy, fries; one spring roll, one egg roll; chocolate chip cookie
Sara – Smoothie (“Thelma and Louise”); catfish po'boy; one bag Cheez-Its; one piece fried alligator; egg roll vermicelli, two spring rolls; Gatorade power bar; chocolate chip cookie
Vern – Smoothie
Brandt – Smoothie, Myoplex protein bar; fried alligator; egg roll noodle salad, one spring roll
Stone – Two bananas; shrimp po'boy, fries
Doughman – Smoothie; turkey sub; one piece fried alligator; one package “Bottlecaps”; Big Mac, fries; vermicelli; chocolate chip cookie; two bags Cheez-Its
Wilcox – Smoothie (Strawberry/Peanut Butter); cream cheese danish; shrimp po'boy, fries; four spring rolls

Comments – I assume that the smoothies we all bought this particular morning had cute little menu names, but only Sara’s bore repeating. A smoothie more full of sass and wild feminine abandon ye shall never know. This was also the first day that some form of turkey meat appeared next to Dave Doughman’s name. As you’ll see, he and that bird come to have a very special relationship.

Analysis – A rather uneventful day of food, really. Vern was still on injured reserve. I do recall Doughman recoiling in horror when he realized his vermicelli had tofu in it. He also ate his Big Mac and turkey sub within a couple of hours of each other. And, mind you, that was before 1 p.m.

Gold Star – Dave Doughman

Friday, September 21, 2001 (Houston to Austin, Texas)

Justin – Potosinos; burrito
Sara – Poblano cheese flautas, guacamole, beans and rice; garlic bagel; banana; one piece of Pizza
Vern – Two spicy pork tacos
Brandt – garlic bagel; chile relleno, guacamole, beans and rice; two tacos (unspecified ingredients)
Stone – Potato flautas, black beans and rice; peanut butter malt balls; garlic bagel
Doughman – Two tostadas; garlic bagel; six mini chocolate doughnuts; Cheez-Its (unspecified amount); SweeTarts; one slice cheese pizza
Wilcox – Potato flautas, beans and rice; two slices cheese pizza

Comments – We lounged around my house in Houston (well, they did—I lay in bed feeling sick to my stomach) munching on bagels and fruit until mid-afternoon, at which point we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for a late lunch. Dave Stone uncharacteristically lost all control of his will power and had to be forcibly cut off from the peanut butter malt balls my girlfriend had brought along for the trip to Austin. During the course of a 170-mile trip, Doughman still managed to find time for doughnuts and Cheez-Its.

Analysis – Vern slowly began to work his way back into the rotation, but was still far from game-shape. It’d be easy to give the nod to Doughman once again for his daily sugar fit, but Dave Stone’s surrender to gluttony was far more memorable.

Gold Star – Dave Stone

Saturday, September 22, 2001 (Austin to Denton, Texas)

Justin – French toast with strawberries and whipped cream; smoothie; PayDay; cheese quesadilla
Sara – Migas; PayDay; Fritos; black bean and cheese nachos
Vern – Quesadillas; three cheeseburgers, fries
Brandt – Southwestern omelet, muffin (unspecified), home fries; Chick-O-Stick beef jerky; cheeseburger
Stone – Tofu scramble, home fries; pretzels (but he removed the salt); grilled veggie sandwich, fries
Doughman – Migas; cheeseburger, fries; Cheez-Its (unspecified amount); SweeTarts candy necklace; turkey Lunchables
Wilcox – Three breakfast burritos, samples of other breakfast orders; peanut butter crackers; Reese’s peanut butter cups; shrimp quesadilla

Comments – There’s no way this can show up in the box score, but I had a miserable food day. At breakfast our waitress completely forgot to bring me my order and so I picked off of other people’s plates for a half hour before my burritos were steaming in front of me. By that time I no longer cared. To top it off, I later went with Justin, Sara and Stone to some “last-chance”-style sports bar in downtown Denton to get dinner and decided for some reason that it was a good idea to order a shrimp quesadilla, which consisted of two brittle, toasted slices of white bread with melted American cheese and four pathetic little shrimps so overcooked they tasted like sunburn. Any establishment that boasts of their “world famous hamburgers” is giving a subtle warning—just get a fucking hamburger and shut up about it.

Analysis – Vern officially got back on the horse, as they say, with three spry little cheeseburgers. A few other items of interest: Brandt’s Chick-O-Stick; Doughman’s second turkey entry (and a less appetizing form I have trouble imagining); the fact that Dave Stone was sure to inform me that he took all the salt off of his pretzels before eating them. All nice moments, but one can never overlook the moral of a story. Or he at whose expense it was brought forth.

Gold Star – David Wilcox

Sunday, September 23, 2001 (Denton, Texas to Fayetteville, Arkansas)

Justin – _ English muffin; veggie bagel sandwich; PayDay; Sun Chips; vegetable delight, rice
Sara – Veggie bagel sandwich, Ruffles; spicy thai big soup noodle bowl; vegetable fried rice; couple of sips of egg drop soup
Vern – Chopped beef sandwich, potato salad; beef with garlic sauce, rice
Brandt – Cheetos golden toast crackers; Peter Pan crackers; veggie bagel sandwich; vanilla cake with Boston crème zingers; beef with tea sauce
Stone – Veggie bagel sandwich, Ruffles; hot 'n' sour big soup noodle bowl; broccoli in oyster sauce
Doughman – Turkey sandwich, Ruffles; three candy necklaces; pretzels; Nutty Bar; Nutter Butters; beef and broccoli
Wilcox – Veggie bagel sandwich, Ruffles; chocolate covered pretzels; pizza flavored Combos; bean curd (the worst ever) with mixed vegetables, fried rice; one slice cheese pizza

Comments – The only nearby place to eat in Fayetteville was this Hunan drive-thru that shares its parking lot both with the venue (Clunk Music Hall) and a topless bar. It was, as I noted, home of the worst bean curd ever—of a gizzard-like consistency, no flavor, and enough hot oil soaked in to burn your tongue with every chewy morsel. The smell of their disposed grease in the dumpsters outside will stay with me a very long time.

Analysis – Here’s to finding a winning flavor and sticking to it: Vern (beef for both meals); Brandt (twice with the cracker packages, even if they were different brands); Doughman (Nutty Bar and Nutter Butters); and myself (pizza flavored food as a stand-in for actual pizza, which I found later).

Gold Star(s) – Vern, Brandt, Doughman, Wilcox

Monday, September 24, 2001 (Fayetteville, Arkansas to Lawrence, Kansas)

Justin – Croissant, soy shake, Clif Bar; seven layer burrito (Taco Bell)
Sara – Banana, croissant; tofu rice bowl; Clif Bar; sesame blue corn chips
Vern – Hostess apple pie; cheeseburger, pickle; “big ass” burrito
Brandt – Banana, croissant; a few Wheat Thins; two fish tacos; cheese quesadilla, chicken burrito supreme (Taco Bell)
Stone – Two bananas; Clif Bar; five layer burrito (Taco Bell); roll of bread/bread roll (eh?)
Doughman – Turkey cheese sandwich, Cheez-Its; Clif Bar; two chicken tacos; one York Peppermint Patty
Wilcox – Bagel with lox, cream cheese; one piece of fudge; one chocolate covered pretzel; Salvadoran enchiladas; chocolate chip cookie

Comments – Doughman once again has turkey, although at this point I’m beginning to wonder if I should be paying closer attention to his Cheez-Its habit. How the hell did Sara manage to maintain her dignity on this thing so well for so long?

Analysis – all things being equal, in this life there are few sights more pathetic than that of a man eating Taco Bell.

Gold Star(s) – Justin Trosper, Brandt Sandeno, Dave Stone

Tuesday, September 25, 2001 (Lawrence, Kansas to Denver, Colorado)

Justin – Two Clif Bars, banana, Ritz Bits; nectarine; hummus, tomato, avocado and cheese sandwich; Ethiopian food (unidentified); baby carrots
Sara – Miso ramen soup; raspberry yogurt; hummus, tomato, avocado and cheese sandwich, baby carrots; hot and sour soup, spring roll; one bag Nutter Butter Bites; corn and sesame Chips
Vern – Twinkies, Hostess apple pie; turkey and cheese wrap with salsa; one slice pizza
Brandt – Sausage, egg and cheese biscuit; turkey, cheese and avocado sandwich; deviled egg salad; hot and sour soup, pad thai
Stone – Clif Bar; salt and vinegar Pringles; banana; Ethiopian food (Justin’s unidentified leftovers)
Doughman – Six mini powdered doughnuts; Turkey and cheese sandwich; mini pizza; Cheez-Its
Wilcox – Egg and cheese sandwich, hash browns (Burger King); banana; avocado and cheese sandwich, baby carrots; hot and sour soup, tofu massaman curry; Snickers

Comments – Doughman’s fifth rendezvous with a piece of turkey in this still-young six-day love affair. Yes, I had Burger King for breakfast. Yes, I deem that to be less pathetic than Taco Bell. No, I’m still not proud of it.

Analysis – there have certainly been more disgusting things ingested by people on this trip so far, but Vern’s double-shot of Hostess cakes for breakfast keeps catching my eye.

Gold Star – Vern Rumsey

Wednesday, September 26, 2001 (Denver, Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah)

Justin – Two danishes; Wheat Thins and string cheese; banana; Nutter Butters; strawberry shortcake ice cream bar; smoothie; wheatgrass juice; tofu in spicy garlic sauce with brown rice
Sara – banana, carrot bread; baby carrots; sour cream doughnut; Fritos; smoothie; cheddar cheese stick; “some kind of Chinese crap that was Justin’s, but it was good”
Vern – Chinese lunch buffet (two plates worth); McDonald’s double cheeseburger; shredded chicken barbecue sandwich
Brandt – Sausage, egg and cheese biscuit; banana; danish-type thing from the hotel; cheeseburger, onion rings; Fritos Scoops; one spring roll; one disc of bison jerky
Stone – Two bananas; Clif Bar; tofu and bread; smoothie; two Odwalla superfoods
Doughman – Turkey and cheese crackers; chocolate cupcakes; peanut butter crackers; smoothie; raisins; two jalapeño cheese sticks; three discs of bison jerky; Chex honey nut mix; turkey, bacon and cheese sandwich
Wilcox – Blueberry bread, banana; tuna salad with wheat crackers; Pringles; two chocolate cupcakes; tofu vegetable lasagna

Comments – Two separate meals with turkey today. Kinda makes up for the one day that Doughman forsook the bird that week.

Analysis – Ah, this one’s tricky. I refuse to let Sara emerge from all this madness without a single Gold Star to show for it, and if she failed to be the grossest person in the van at any point then she should at least be judged against her own standards. And her gas station-brand carrot bread, doughnut, Fritos and cheddar cheese stick were about as low as Lund got. Not to mention her flippant recollection of her dinner for the evening, dripping with the resignation of one who has decided “I really don’t care; I will eat whatever the fuck you put in front of me.”
But then again, even in light of his many earlier achievements, Dave Doughman really outdid himself. That is a staggering amount of crap to eat. “three discs of Bison Jerky” — how can that be cast aside?

Gold Star(s) – Dave Doughman, Sara Lund

Thursday, September 27, 2001 (Salt Lake City, Utah to Boise, Idaho)

Justin – banana, smoothie; bagel sandwich with hummus; Sun Chips; string cheese; PayDay; tuna melt, salad
Sara – Garlic bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese; cherry pineapple big stick; Clif Bar; baby carrots; tuna melt, salad
Vern – Big Mac; double cheeseburger (also McDonald’s)
Brandt – Bagel sandwich with egg, cheese and sausage; “Pioneer Steak Sandwich,” corn fries; sunflower seeds
Stone – Bagel with hummus; protein peach smoothie; “Coney Island Flavored” potato chips; corn fries; tuna melt, fries
Doughman – Six chocolate mini doughnuts; sesame bagel with cream cheese and tomato; one huge Rice Krispie Treat; pretzel nibblers
Wilcox – Bagel with cream cheese, tomato and cucumber; “Coney Island Flavored” potato chips; peanut butter cups; corn fries; tuna melt, salad

Comments – Corn fries: seasoned fish-fry corn meal in stick form. A truck stop south of Boise had little advertisements for them all over the dining area of their in-house grill. Brandt purchased some to go along with his “Pioneer Steak Sandwich” after Dave Stone and I both goaded him into it, eager to try it out ourselves. Stone and I had also just split a bag of potato chips that were supposed to have the flavor of hot dogs and mustard, and enjoyed them more than we should have. I have no idea what Sara’s “cherry pineapple big stick” was.

Analysis – I look back fondly on this as the day that Dave Stone and I both hit rock bottom at the same time, and frolicked about in that pit like pigs in shit. God bless Brandt for taking us there. No, I didn’t overlook that Vern had McDonald’s twice in one day. Trust me, it wasn’t the same.

Gold Star(s) – David Wilcox, Dave Stone, Brandt Sandeno