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.
Vegan donuts. Take a deep breath. Push out all the pretense about the vegan person who might annoy you and try to consider if maybe they annoy you because they’re annoying, and not because they’re vegan. Think about an animal you love. Think about a burger you love. Balance it out. Vegan donuts. They’re real. No one makes you eat them. I ate some. Dun-Well Donuts in Brooklyn serves them up. They were good. More on that shortly.
I met Katie at Dun-Well Donuts in Brooklyn to sell her my Tascam 4-Track tape recorder. I’ve had it since I was thirteen, moved it between three apartments, and haven’t used it in the last two years. As I approached my next move, it was time to let go. It’s time to let go of lots of things. The Stuff with a capital S that I keep within an apartment’s radius because A) it used to mean something to me B) What if I need it one day C) It’s mine and should always be mine because mine is mine mine mine. But then there’s tomorrow and the next day and no plans for most of the Stuff other than the comfort I don’t seem to even get from it being around. Gone it goes. Even the first.
Three 6 Mafia piqued my interested at the same time as the Beastie Boys at the same time as Outkast. When Stankonia came out, I bought in on transparent orange vinyl to play on my newly acquired Numark DJ Turntables (perhaps the birth of my gear addiction) and waited in line at Strawberry’s Music in Cambridge for three hours for a signature. I got there early. Way early. Passing the time with the old school hip-hop radio show I taped off of JAM’N 94.5 onto my mini-disc player (or maybe that was the birth of my gear addiction?). After the three hours an authority figure came out and shouted that due to their plane arriving late Outkast would have to miss the autograph signing in order to get to their concert at Boston College in time.
“But the good news is, everyone who came today will get a free poster!”
Boos erupted, stuff was surely thrown, and I felt let down, though my walls were bare at the time. “…And the first 50 people in line will get a free ticket to tonight’s show!”
My insides exploded. I had never been to a concert before and I knew I was in, I could see the front of the line and at counting time I was number 26. They gave me a wrist-band and I put it on, the only time in my life that a wrist-band hasn’t pinched my arm hair (for it had yet to grow). Brimming with excitement I took the next logical step inside the record store, asked to use the phone, and dialed my mom. Permission was granted to go see the rap show as long as I agreed to be picked up by midnight, since I had to get a decent night’s sleep to resume being an 8th grader in the morning. My mom dropped me off at BC and I tried to follow the sound, eventually asking a girl who in my memory was 80 feet taller than me if she was going to the Outkast show. She said yes and let me walk with her. I haven’t felt cooler since.
Everything I heard inspired me to dig deep and dive in and I practiced free-style rapping in secret until I showed it to my friends and it moved through a natural progression to the cafeteria, school dances, back at friend’s houses, and then to never happen again once I reached the 10th grade. When the 4-Track recorder entered my life I barely took the time to learn the ropes, and pressed the record button as quickly as possible, making rap demos and recording songs from the piano. The memories of content and the tapes themselves have surely been erased, recorded over in my mind with more recent data, but the first time I pushed record was on that machine, and now I was selling it in a donut shop.
When comparing a vegan donut recipe to an American gun-lovin’ donut recipe, the substitutions are basic and clear: no eggs, no milk, no butter, with room made for soy buttermilk, water, and margarine. According to Dr. Wikipedia, margarine was invented in France in 1869 “as a result of a challenge proposed by Emperor Louis Napoleon III” to create a substitute for butter. The Emperor tasted the submissions and, being unable to believe it was not butter, undoubtedly chopped off all of their heads. Margarine’s come a long way; even vegan margarine exists. And from my experience with the vegan donuts of that day, an animal’s pain only makes a donut taste slightly better. These were good. The chocolate cake-donut tasted dry as can happen in the vegan baked good world (unless they trick you by just giving you pure chocolate and calling it a brownie. NEVER AGAIN. Always again). The yeast-donut was dynamite. It had the ballsy flavoring that’s becoming more common, and should not be dismissed as hipsterism but instead be consumed as delicious. Lemon cardamom was the name and good lord was it right on.
Think about the dude who annoys you because he’s always posting an Instagram of something like, say, a lemon cardamom donut. Is that truly what annoys you? Or is he annoying? Does he talk words that are annoying when you’re around? Think big picture. Don’t blame the medium. And don’t blame the donut.
My big hiccup was aesthetic. The interior of Dun-Well is entirely old-timey – as is commonplace in many Brooklyn food & drink startups, especially when the words whiskey and oyster are nearby – though neither flavors showed up within the Dun-Well display case this time. Furthermore, the two founders, young strapping wizards who don authentic hats, semi-authentic mustaches, and possibly inherited suspenders (but possibly Urban Outfitted too. Who’s to say?) They dressed the part, but the part felt confusing. The attire reflected a time when the vegan lifestyle didn’t exist, when GMOs didn’t reign supreme, when John Phillip Sousa topped the charts and every household had a woman in it who wasn’t allowed vote and a bicycle with one gigantic front wheel.
One of the last days of the Man Man tour we were again on the water in Wilmington, North Carolina. My goal of a donut a day was a profound failure, tight schedules and unrealistic locations made it impossible, and even that very night I was cruelly told of the magical donut stand on the beach 20 minutes away that I would never have been able to convince the whole van’s-worth of folks to make the trip for so late at night. But I felt okay. My heart attack potential decreased, my quest for the best donuts could then extend throughout my whole life and there’s a likely chance I’ll value them more when they don’t hit my system every single day. But let the record show, Britt’s Donuts on Carolina Beach is my Moby Dick. One day, one day.
It was hot in Wilmington, some real Southern hat-waving heat, and walking down the street the smell of grass trimmings hit the wasabi region of my nose. That’s a good thing, I decided. Two kids were skateboarding by the river walk, hitting the same stairs again and again. One could really stick his landings and the other just couldn’t seem to get it together. A couple passed by, directing two remote control cars in front of them, weaving around lampposts and strangers like they were walking their dogs. I listened to “Afro Harping” by Dorothy Ashby for the second time that day and then went to play the rock show, the second to last of the tour but the last show in a pretty place. No offense Baltimore. I want to like you. But the biggest memory of the final show shall be of the kid who got the lead singer’s autograph from last year tattooed on his dumb stomach. He showed us this on Mother’s Day. I know why he’s annoying.
Outside Dun-Well I said goodbye to Katie, her money in my wallet and my 4-Track in her hands. She pledged that if she ever wanted to sell it she’d return it to me, which was comforting. I’d go on to sell my first microphone the same week and a few Casio keyboards of which I have doubles. I asked Katie why the donut shop had to be 100% old timey. Is this the new steampunk? An alternate reality dystopian future where mustache wax sits on the shelf next to the flax seed? I think about the vegan owners in the picture in the magazine article on the wall and if they’re annoying because of how they dress or if I’m just anxious to be annoyed. Maybe it’s all in my head. People should be able to dress and act however they want. No one clamped a top hat on my head while I ate or switched out my minivan’s tires for wagon wheels. So it’s not for me, maybe I’m the annoying one because I’m looking for a fight, because my eyes are sharp for the reasons this aesthetic tickles me wrong. Maybe I should just enjoy the donut and shut up.
But I asked anyways, “Why does it have to be so old fashioned in there? Why can’t they just hint at that style but still remain in the present? Why can’t my donuts live in the now?”
And Katie replied, “If that were the case, then people probably wouldn’t meet here to buy tape recorders.”