Words By Adam Schatz, Photo & Illustrations By Emily Golinko
Adam Schatz is a member of Man Man, Landlady, The Shoe Ins, Father Figures and other excellent bands. He happens to enjoy donuts and we like him. After appearing on DC editor Brandon Wetherbee’s talk show and eating donuts with NYC editor Megan Burns, it made sense to ask the musician to write about what he knows: touring and donuts. Before we get to the sugar, hear more about when Adam’s playing and stories like these and sign up for his Gazette.
When Emily would land at Logan airport she would look for whales. The water below the planes arriving in Boston had to have been full of them. But they never showed face or spout. Growing up in Massachusetts the occasional whale watch would also prove fruitless, though there was usually a dolphin guarantee. They would fall in and out of the wake of the big boat, amusing us for moments but very quickly deemed “not as big as whales.” Those big bastards were on our mind as Emily and I crossed the Tobin bridge towards the North Shore, with the windows turned down and Pet Sounds turned up, with the water in view and our donut destination in our stomachs.
Since first time I typed Saugus (roughly one week ago when I suggested to Emily that we go there) I have been unable to type it without adding a “T” at the end. Such is my eternal curse.
We grew up together thirty minutes south of where we were headed and neither of us had ever ventured north, and like every suburban kid we had a good two years of drivers license freedom. Our state was and is full of a million towns mostly starting with one of 6 letters (M, N, S, L, W, B) and it was hard to be too concerned with any of them unless you played on a traveling sports team. I got out of basketball at an early age with my only complete basket being when, during a skirmish beneath the net, the ball bounced off my head and was accidentally tipped in by the opposing team on their own basket. The loophole rulebook of sport started that the credit for the point went to me. After being doused in champagne and a 30 minute victory speech, I retired from the game forever.
In high school another loophole was exploited, when some friends of mine with equal parts interest in rolling joints and burritos discovered that our town had a traveling team for every age group in the Boston Area Youth Soccer league except our own, 16-18. So they stepped up to the pitch and founded the Cheebahs, a self governed no-tryout team, built on the principles of fun vague debauchery and abstract nonsense. I was one of the lucky few to be granted membership, and we would approach each game with nicknamed tie-dye, a boombox, a megaphone, a whole lotta gumption, and 2-3 players who actually knew the rules of soccer. My specialty was wearing a cape and falling down around the ball until A. one of 2-3 teammates took the ball and scored B. some sort of colored card was thrown in my general direction.
But I didn’t make it to too many other towns with the Cheebahs. After the word spread that we took the majesty of the sport less than seriously and half of our games were called off after the half by a bemused/furious referee, many teams elected not to play us at all. Our season ended with a miracle making home game against our arch rivals (the only team who would still play us) where we debuted the Atomic Bomb, a play for which I can’t take any credit but can proudly say I helped execute. At the signal of our “coach” everyone on our team fell motionless to the ground, while our opponents scored with confusion in their hearts. I can vividly remember my eyes seeing though the grass towards my horizontal team-mate Dusty who kept shouting “Its working! It’s working!”
Saugus(t) never played us. They may not have been in the division. We may have forgotten to show up. But now a new town can be added to the list of “yeah I know it.” A giant pink neon sign greeted us at Kane’s Donuts. Their visual aesthetic was pitch perfect, clearly not veering too far from the origins of the logo in 1955. We got three to go in a box, the townie behind the counter shining sincere pride in their work, a sturdy business that attracted the likes us Emily & I, as well as the two oldest ladies in the world who were eating outside when we arrived. False teeth be damned, these donuts were good. The “honey-dipped” was the champion, huge and perfect for eating one’s feelings if your feelings are big. The “turtle” and “Boston creme” flavors were dramatically sweet, but were undoubtedly donuts as well. We drove away, past three hooligans riding skateboards and holding their backpacks in their arms. I remember when it was cool to just wear your backpack with one strap. It’s really is true what I say…the children are sinking our society. Whats next, rolling your backpack on wheels?!
Fifteen minutes north took us to the island of Nahant, a place neither of us had ever heard of, but the waterfront seemed to be the best place for us to eat. We drove around the perimeter, observing the top notch ocean and mysteriously quiet streets. Resident-only parking signs were everywhere and we only saw 4 cool kids in the whole town. They were sitting by a small marina, wearing all black and smoking cigarettes. I suggested we roll down the windows and ask them where we should go before realizing that we were now the uncool adults that would try and get a straight answer from the punk kids. A kid Emily used to be. A kid I would hang around with. We wore normal clothes now and were in my minivan, not inherited from my parents, but a different one that I bought with my own free will. We would try and convince them that we used to be cool. And that smoking actually isn’t that cool. And that you thought the Beach Boys weren’t cool at first but it turns out they’re REALLY cool. But my giant sun hat ended that argument before it even began.
Nahant, meaning “the point,” was named by local Native Americans who were thanked for their naming abilities with the gift of many blankets. Before 1800 there were only three homes on the island and it was officially incorporated as a town in 1853. If you thought that was boring, you were right. A hostess greeted us in the only restaurant on the island. For her protection and my amusement, I’ll refer to her as Agnes. After taking our orders for overpriced and under-tasted seafood Agnes answered my question about the town’s biggest secrets. She told us there were none. And then said it was illegal for any non-resident to park on the island. And that she had just become a full time resident and after some careful Googling learned her neighbor was an ex-murderer.
“What were they trying to hide?” I asked myself and those around me. Suspiciously everyone kept eating and serving their shrimp without acknowledging my question.
I commented that I didn’t think anyone could really be an ex-murderer. Once you’ve murdered somebody you are a murderer. Unless you went back in time. Unless I misheard her and she said “axe murderer.” Hmm.
Agnes handed us our to-go boxes and muttered something, either “thanks for coming in” or “you better get out of here before something bad happens, or worse…” but I was too hungry to tell the difference. As we drove to illegally park and eat, Emily opened her box and screamed. Written in ketchup was a detailed S.O.S. from Agnes. She had been held captive in a lobster trap by her ex-murderous neighbor for months. He knew she knew the secrets of the town, such as its parking policies, and wouldn’t let her go blabbing it to any old donut muncher who sauntered in. Her car got a flat tire by the restaurant and she’d been working there for 72 hours straight hoping someone would come to rescue her before her captor found her.
But Emily screamed because she hated ketchup. And it was everywhere. We thought about Agnes’ plight and decided we couldn’t do anything about it on an empty stomach. Then we just sort of forgot about it. Headed home, on our way back over the bridge, the restaurant had vanished. Seashells and cigarette butts were all that remained. I thought about asking the punk kids standing nearby what happened, but I got scared.
Driving through Lynn, MA off the lost island of Nahant, we hit a red light long enough to read a big advertisement planted in the ground. October 31: at the Lynn Auditorium, Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Featuring a few guys who used to play in Creedence Clearwater Revival.
After all our adventures, Emily & I agreed the craziest thing we saw was a concert on Halloween starring a band pretending to be a different band promoted five months in advance. What a world.