June 1, 2007

Not too long ago, yolatengo.com found ourselves at the fantabulous Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans, rocking and rolling with Roky Erickson, Barbara Lynn, Augie Meyers, Roy Head, Dave Bartholomew, etc. etc. During a rare break in the action, we stumbled on our old friend F. Clarke Martty. Eventually the conversation turned to an infamous chapter in Yo La Tengo’s early history that Clarke bore witness to, a story we have told many times before. It occurred to us to ask for Clarke’s version, and here it is, unedited but annotated…

• • •

when Yo La Tengo played Columbia, Missouri [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/fallof1988.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]in the fall of 1988[/popup], i had no idea culinary history was about to occur. touring with one [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/stephan.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]Stephan[/popup], fab bass player from [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/germany.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]germany[/popup], as a 3-piece, the band was to play [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/bluenote.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]Blue Note[/popup] – a great haven of The Rock. since they were staying at my band at the time’s house, i was playing host, and gladly returning many, many favors . [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/clubwaspacked.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]the club was packed, their set was great[/popup], and we all decided to go to get some breakfast at the fabulous tiger diner near the campus of the University of Missouri.

now, since i was a ‘regular’ at the diner, i told the band about some of the intracacies of the menu. as i relayed the “challenge of the Bomb”, stephan’s eyebrows peaked. “The Bomb” was this huge omelette, i mean huge. there was everything but the kitchen sink in the thing, and maybe some of the sink..sausage, bacon, chourizo..it was immense! [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/heresthedeal.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]here’s the deal: you eat the whole thing – you don’t pay for it.[/popup] stephan’s european mind couldn’t wrap around this one. “wait! you can get free food just for eating it??” he inquired with vast interest, and then started quizzing me about details. we summoned the waitress over – the place was packed as usual, after the bars in town had all closed – to place the fateful order, and inquire of the rules.

apparently, indeed, if you eat the entire Bomb, you don’t have to pay – but, if there is any left it [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/costslike.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]costs like around $14.oo bucks[/popup]. stephan queried in his best berliner: “yes..can you drink coffee wis’ dis’??”. waitress: “honey you can drink or eat anything you want along with it, s’long’s as ya finish her”. [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/enthusiastically.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]georgia and ira were enthusiastically urging stephan on[/popup] – hell, we were all hungry. we ordered – steph was going for it!

The Bomb arrives on a steaming plate…a mountainous pile of eggs and cheese and whatnot. by now, other diners and passersby had become interested in the challenge, some had been to the tengo show. i must say the place was pretty boistrous in general, but there was friggin’ cheering and stuff going on as the [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/german.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]german[/popup] started shovelling it in. i must say he was a great starter…he was going for gold. G & I, and i were totally psyched, but probably in disbelief that this was all happening. the man was an eating machine, for such a skinny kid! [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/puttingitaway.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]he was really putting it away[/popup], no prob. folks started cheering, and our waitress stopped by to see how we were, and give a few words of encouragement.

we’d all finished our food, but stephan was hitting a wall. after ordering another cup of coffee, he stood up and stretched around, and then sat back down to, like, a quarter of bomb left. the crowd was into it, shouting more words of encouragement. in the corner was a group of doubters, laying in some negs, but for the most part – everyone was for the lad.

well, as things were again slowing down, steph takes one gulp of air and [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/shovelstherest.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]just shovels the rest down to everyone’s cheers[/popup]. he’d whooped the thing. victorious, i even believe he got another coffee. ?. the rest of us went to the counter to pay for OURS, and stephan stepped outside.

all of a sudden, some of the girls by the window look outside and are like: “ewwww..he’s puking all over the place!!!” i went out to the steps and indeed, our boy was soiling the hedges around the building in the parking area – a LOT!! a real lot!! people that were eating, and probably should have been disgusted, were laughing their asses off, and [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/guesssowerewe.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]i guess so were we[/popup].

the poor guy, as we went back to the band house, he felt horrible and was heard sick in the bathroom all nite. it wasn’t so funny then, but he was feeling okay the next day — we didn’t go to breakfast. the story did make the rounds of the rock scene in town and to me, and there was always trepidation in the waitress’s eye as i would bring in bands after that – but to me, not only is he a great bass player – [popup url=”https://yolatengo.com/popups/legend.html” height=”500″ width=”460″]the man is a Legend!![/popup]

clarke martty may, 2007

Stephan attempting The Stretch (or, The Bomb, if you will). Author F. Clarke Martty on the right.