Friday Sept. 30
Left Bay Area at 8:30PM in a sate of carefully propped up optimism. This morning I, for the first time, seriously pulled a lower back muscle.
In a fit of crankiness I tried to throw or shove my bed across the room to sweep under it. I knew when the pain hit that all was as it must be. Each tour seems doomed for me at the beginning (all this seems wrong as I write it.).
In truth, at this moment, yesterday seems swampy and infused with waiting/avoidance and sleep; hours of laying around trying to heal quickly and attempts at picking out Hawaiian melodies inspired by the Ledward Kapana show I'd seen with Margaret on Wednesday night.
--GHENGIS KHAN MOTOR INN. RUBBING THE RUBY ROAD--
Two and a half month leave of absence. John M comes to visit on my first day off work. John was very bizarre and quiet loaded and patient (humble?) respectful and closed.
I tried to watch Star Trek with him and a few minutes into the program I turned to see him sitting very erect reading a magazine.
I quite often entered the living room and found him siting or standing very erect and reading whatever happened to be lying around.
He seemed an unwavering observer, free of preference almost.
We flew to New York for one show (!) at CMJ at IRVING PLAZA. 3 1/2 day trip w/ two all-nighters--the show a failure by attendance standards. Matador disappointed but not in us.
We arrived in Manhattan at 6:30 AM and couldn't get into a hotel until 10 or 11 so we walked through midtown during morning rush; intersections filled with people jay-walking and panic-dispersing when cars roar into their midst honking and bouncing.
Nathan my nephew was at the show. It poured rain all night.
My back is a constant anchor to spirit and temperance.
We played at the Satyricon with Superconductor. It was packed and our two sets were not relaxed and not that fun.
Hugh's distortion box was stolen from the stage. He rampaged for nearly an hour loudly and violently cursing and throwing things. It was a little bit funny.
We stayed at Kathy Molloy's w/ some of Superconductor. It was quiet and comfortable.
Sat. Oct. 1.
Slow moving. Went to a strange Lebanese place for brunch. Sat outside because the place was full. Had odd little pizzas and falafel with Superconductor and Lindsey Thrasher.
Went to Seattle with Jeff, a small-boned, big-headed young fellow who did a fanzine and seemed OK. Our spirits were generally high and we were characteristically behind schedule.
Arrived at Moe's Place too late for sound check. The Girls were already there chiding us about being late. Rick was clean-shaven and Charlie had a huge moustache. All of them looked good. The night began at a hurried pace; set up our backline, order food, sound check with viola and Superconductor, eat, poop, play w/ SC, do setlist during Ruins set, get beer, play. Only then could I relax.
We waved at the audience while Mark wanked. Many waved back. One person was flipping me off and I singled him out and kept doing a "you're out" crossed-hands gesture a la Wally, the Hippo until he started waving, too.
Our sets were much looser than in Portland and some of the improv bits were very good and the audience was with us the whole way.
P.S, on viola show:
Playing viola with Superconductor was not comfortable. Their songs had lots of changes and I had no idea when they were coming or how to handle them. Carl at one point leaned to me and said, "This is your solo." The band quieted down and I was left naked and bereft of key or attitude but sawing away whenever I could. He liked it fine.
Later after TFU was done a concerned-looking young man on crutches came up and said, "Have you ever taken lessons on that instrument?" He told me some bowing techniques I should try and always seemed very near shaking his head.
A very good night. The Ruins bass player told us Mara Tabata had told him to play with us.
Seattle gives me the impression now of teaming with people searching for a personality and beginning their search with package deals that don't fit them. The club was full but it seemed like everyone was a visitor (this may be untrue). A glorious night nonetheless.
We swore loudly and gleefully, employing the most blasphemous scenarios we could conjure all the way through load-out and to Alan Bishop's place.
Once there, Alan and Scott and Rick showed us their new magnificent full Gamelan set. They always manage to surprise and intrigue.
It was a non-characteristic night of conspiratorial tones of voice and ideal plan-making.
I slept miserably on the concrete basement floor w/ my thermorest and a tiny pillow--my arms often resting on the cold floor. I woke in the night drenched in sweat, the pillow soaked through, and labored the rest of the dark hours to dry the sleeping bag and yet stay warm.
Sunday Oct 2
Woke to Alan's footsteps and his talking about Phepner's (his cat) ability to make a "Heil Hitler" gesture to tell you to pet him (her?).
The weather was ideal.
Xavier and Sari, friends of Alan's, came over with their children and an acupuncture kit.
Sari performed acupuncture on my back while everyone else in the house played the Gamelan set in the basement.
It was better than work.
I laid face-down on Alan's bed listening to the music and Sari's voice and feeling the needles enter. The room was only dimly lit and full of a Sunday atmosphere but everything else was new sensations.
We left Alan's w/ many good-byes. I was walking much better and couldn't stop grinning.
Oh yes, Alan showed Sari and I to his room for the acupuncture and he said, "Here's something for you to think about while you're in here. I got married when I was in Burma."
He had fallen in love with the Burmese beauty Ni Ni Ay (RED RED COOL) when she was working the desk of a hotel in '93 and married her on his last trip there. He said he was truly in love. I believe him.
A beautiful, high wind, drive to Vancouver B.C. The last mile before the border and while in the line for admittance was filled with our most creative Canada bashing.
I have not been able to read much on the trip so far, I tend more to minutes of writing and hours of sleeping; or staring at the trees passing by, trying to gauge their color content, or at the lights and shadows moving and colliding on the van windows and roof, occasionally reminding myself to take note of area characteristics like mountain peaks rather than the generic highway and cars.
Vancouver was growing dark when we arrived at the Starfish Club for load-in. My mood started gently to nosedive. The soundman was described by two different people as a "NOB"--a reputation he quickly lived up to.
The music he was playing was ATROCIOUS INNOCUOUS useless rock. The downtown/Sunday night atmosphere seemed to thoroughly exclude the possibility of a good show and turnout. The club seemed like a place I would avoid.
A,H,J and I went to eat while Mark soundchecked keyboard with Superconductor. Walking around Vancouver I was surprised at how different many of the face-types were and how common physically large streetpeople/loose crazies there were.
We wrote a set list w/o Mark while SC played on the other side of a thin door. The dressing room was tiny and stuffy w/ a beer odor.
Our first songs stank and the audience was suspicious. I felt frustrated and quickly determined to turn things around at any cost.
We did an odd group of loosely structured plucked viola and vocal things and Guillotine so that there would be a stretch of sparse, vocally oriented music uncharacteristic for us. It was wonderful for us and the audience seemed to be drawn into it as well.
I felt a little closer to being able to think creatively while on stage.
During an encore there was a series of short delays and Anne started screaming; soon all of us and many of the audience were screaming as well.
When this show was over M from VC's PQ had drunk quite a bit of our beer and was talking so much and being so obnoxious that, while still rather witty, no one could be around him.
We went with Keith Parry to an all-night health food restaurant and had delicious food and coffee.
I told him he was like a god to us and that I would kill my own parents if he wanted me to. I reigned in this line of humor shortly. It seems like an intrusive approach that leaves little for avenues of response.
Returned to Keith's new residence at about 3am.On the way passing some very skidrow looking areas. One building on his block -a wooden building--had caved in years ago forcing the gray board fence to steeply overhang the sidewalk.
Keith's house outside was adorned with a large, very limb-bent and ragged stuffed poodle amongst other lights and window monsters.
When Keith opened the door he immediately shut it again and said, "I'm really sorry--M is here." Fortunately there was room in the basement for 4 of us and Jay slept in the van. My first really good night's sleep.
Monday Oct. 3
Weather was beautiful again--cool and sunny.
We were very slow about getting up and ran very late. Didn't get to Seattle until 6:00pm. Picked up merchandise we'd left at Alan's.
We drove for 6 or so more hours, heading East toward Minneapolis. The stars were magnificent. I saw two shooting stars and the Milky Way was dense and fascinating.
I had many questions again--simple questions like: are we heading towards the stars I can see or away from them?
That night we stayed in a small, high-elevation mining town Mullan Idaho.
Tues. Oct 4
In the morning I walked through the tiny, empty town and up the hill with a mountain stream rushing along it. My back problems made walking very stiff and labored. The air was very clean or at least I thought so (it was probably laden with mining chemicals).
I riled up dogs in nearly every yard. The houses were very modest, some almost shanty-like.
I was out of town in the woods on a dirt road shortly. I didn't think I could live there--frighteningly quiet and vulnerable to attacks without witnesses.
We went to a café for breakfast an over an hour later our food came.
Some workmen told us they usually call ahead.
The drive on this day (94 East) took us through some beautiful mountainous snowy country. There was snow on the ground at a rest stop. We drove 15 hours this day into North Dakota. Somewhere (Drummond, Montana) Mark bought a homemade, hand-labeled ginger cake that I miss-read as a "Bingus."
We ate a Perkins in Billings--victims of Bait and Hook Signage. We were lured 2 miles into Billings through the aesthetic violence of its bulwarks and oil refineries.
Skinheads dining in Perkins. I hated Billings.
Stopped finally at 3:30 AM our time, 5:30 Bismark ND time.
Hugh discovered he'd left his bag in Mullan and had no clothes, toothpaste, etc. He never mentioned that this had happened before. He was livid.
Wednesday Oct. 5
7 hours or so drive to Minneapolis; gray weather and uninteresting scenery. Of course we were running late.
It was dark by the time we arrived in Minneapolis.
In the Uptown bar restaurant we met Roland V the Dutchman. A fine man who had only a slight accent and steadiness that seems to buoy him.
I was suspicious of him at first but he mentioned Mike and I knew he was on the level.
Our show was difficult. Little time to do set list, no time to walk or drink. The audience response grew dimmer the better we played. We tossed the set list and experimented. No one cared--at least not visibly or audibly. Roland loved it.
Tonight we did "Change Your Mind" and I said some stuff about astronauts and said "You know what they saw…Outer space varmits." Then kept my eyebrows raised until it was clear that that was that.
I drank more than usual and engaged a fan at length about the merits of the color green in clothing. We concurred.
An old man sweeping up kept barking at me: "you gonna move this--you better!"
We went to Peter Davis' for the night. A big, old house with 2 floors and finished basement. All I wanted to do was go to sleep but someone was on the phone for 40 minutes or more in the basement where I was going to sleep. Eventually I grabbed by things and went to the van.
I had to pee most of the night but couldn't make myself do it--out of exhaustion, mostly.
Thurs. Oct. 6
I was in a tired stupor waiting and waiting to use the bathroom. Rocking on my feet and walking from one room to another, not knowing why.
I watched Peter throwing a soft, slime-covered Frisbee to his dog Max. Max punished the Frisbee vehemently upon each retrieval. The dog breathed quickly and with alarming force. He would often draw attention to himself through his breathing, causing people around him to pause in their conversation to glance at him in curiosity or concern.
--Them Dang Aliens
--Outer Space Varmits
The drive to Iowa City was dull and grayish. We were very late.
We took a secondary road for 40 mi. or so through cornfields and soybean fields being harvested. I held forth.
We waved at motorists and they waved back.
We loaded in at Gabes Oasis amidst family (not mine) members and hugging. I felt very business-like and only wanted to plug things in.
The M's-a terrible and perverse pop band were there with their leader sitting and watching us, his gears turning audibly.
Jeff A and I went to the Co-op in the cool fall darkness and got food and ate outside Gabes with Jay.
Roger, Denise, Michael, and Ann came walking up. From there the night had a frantic pace, trying to do two set lists, sell merchandise, talking to my family and old acquaintances right up to our 1st set.
An OK night of playing. The drunks and miscreants once again picked Hugh to camp in front of. A good audience.
We played a long time and were not told to stop until suddenly all of the bar people were angry at us and kicking people out rudely.
A, H, and I stayed with Jeff Ahrens. Jay stayed in the van. A nice after-hours little party with Steve Houghton and Paul Neff who has lost none of his intensity.
Very little sleep this night.
Friday Oct 7
Breakfast with Jeff and his friend Jane and her 2 or so year old daughter Lauren at the Hamburg inn. Nice time. Jeff afterwards sidling down the side of a drugstore, hands clasped together like a pistol tracking down Jay, oblivious to passersby.
Our drive to St. Louis uneventful but at least it was never traveled by me before.
We played at Cicero's in the university district. Prior to playing we walked the warm evening tabled sidewalks on Delman Street and met Zabet, the woman who'd invited us to stay with her.
We were playing in a basement that had a back door with below-grade corridor with a metal grate at grade--an ancient-looking assemblage of crooked lines and grays, its ending hidden in darkness feces urine and old cooking grease air conditioners venting heat to outside with surrounding clouds of humidity.
We played to a full basement with a strange man named Beatle Bob dancing in front of us. I could not summon the energy to push the show into the realm of enjoyment. Zabet, the woman we were to stay with spent the whole time behind the stage.
She and her roommate Lori are both from S.F. and it seems they are quite fixated on it and its people. This, I think, was the reason we were invited to stay with them.
Lori's thigh had a tattoo of all the Jetsons wrapped around it. They lived in a beautiful old house in the university part of town.
---Cleveland: Is it really necessary
---Your stewardess is equipped with a beaver. To access it, pull gently on the ham sandwich.
Sat. Oct 8
It rained during the night. In the morning it was still raining slightly. I smoked on the porch as a group of kids grab-assed their way down the middle of the street and began lathering me with anti-white style comments until three black female teenagers came out of the door behind me and laid into them. I couldn't understand a word of it but was grateful for the indirect support. Drove to Chicago in rain for 6 or 7 hours. I drove into the city and enjoyed the big city feeling. So many brown brick buildings in decay and old churches old and narrow streets.
Jay K. and Jay N. showed up at sound check at Lounge Ax.
We flopped down in a run-down, Hugh Hefner-style apartment above the club. It had recently been purchased for renovation by Lounge Ax. It was in bad shape but perfect for us to hide in.
Steve A showed up and confirmed that Billings, MT is a bad place. Anne had found him outside and brought him up saying, "Here's someone who wants to party with us!"
I offered him a spot on my heating pad.
This was a wonderful night. Steve W came as well, spreading his benign peace.
Lounge Ax was crammed, and people were very excited. Anne threatened that we were gong to play for two hours straight so that no one could pee. We did just that.
The opener, The Cocktails, were quite good.
I did some strange things in "Change Your Mind" that left me disoriented for a while and a little embarrassed by the crowd response.
Once again we played too much to drink any amount of booze.
Afterwards Sue Miller, the promoter, showed us photo booth pictures of us from '90 and '91 and we took new ones.
Everyone in the place was very nice to us.
Steve did a demonstration of how much better the vinyl is for the Shellac record vs. a typical record of ours. He held the rims and shook to make the fake thunder sound. I gave him the Café Dumond apron I had been keeping for him for the last two years.
Steve W offered us a place to stay again but we decided to just sleep on the floor upstairs. We sat around up there like bigshots with our wad of money--over $1600--amazed at our good fortune.
Hugh spoke in a thick, pompous voice auctioning off the cheap and beaten furniture of the apartment. The bidding generally started at six million dollars. He farted occasionally. Hugh: "People just seem to like us."
Sunday Oct 9
A beautiful morning. Sunday quiet. A guy from the Cocktails came down and opened the club for us to load out. A very nice fellow.
Went to Jay K's house to pick him up. Very tough Cuban neighborhood.
We went to a greasy diner in Wicker Park. It took 1 1/2 hours. We dined with Jay K's female friend Julie and her precocious 5-year-old daughter.
My horniness was driving my crazy and Julie was an attractive woman. I couldn't stop thinking about kissing her or falling asleep on the couch with her--naked under a blanket.
Very very tired.
Uneventful drive to Detroit, another new city for me.
We were extremely late again and the club (Club Hell) 7 mi. North of downtown on Woodward. We drove through some very tough areas looking for the pace as well as meeting many speeding police cars heading south.
It was chilly and dark out when we pulled in. The club had a real Hiphop-style atmosphere and staff.
The soundman stood in marked contrast: 6'4", huge arms and belly; slow-moving, almost painfully patient and imperturbable.
The promoter took us to a bar for food. "Another fucking bar"--we ate leftovers there, I felt a cold coming on and the possibilities of a good show seemed remote.
Robert B assured us of a place to stay early on.
Some rabid fans who knew our lyrics and all. 88 paid. We announced Anne's birthday to the audience's cheers. Always fun.
Lots of strange people at this one.
No girls have come up to me as of yet. This is a relief. I'm terrified of being free now but want to be intimate nonetheless.
We played a long time again. Afterwards we went to Blake's at about 9 mi. and Woodward. We marveled at his paintings and at the pot cookies some of us had just eaten.
The night wore on. Eventually Hugh and I were blubbering messes talking about the word "warm" and the fact that ham sandwich pouches are actually provided on almost everything from guitar picks to individual piano keys.
I slept in Blake's painting room.
Monday Oct 10
A very slow, and I'm sure for Blake, unnerving day ensued. Anne and I did laundry right away. But some started late and had myriad troubles with the washer that we spent the whole day there and had to skip going downtown to see the Hiedleberg Project--An artist's use of everyday junk to give life to his street.
A nice day regardless.
We started very late for Cleveland. I drove but remember nothing.
Cold this night. 3 bands, bad beer.
A wonderful time, though, eating at Tommys. Zombie waiters mislead us and one sat down in our booth to spread napkins and silverware, turning to us dully and muttering, "I'll be a few minutes." Jay asked to be seated elsewhere.
People were complaining all around us. We enjoyed this all tremendously.
The first band, The Maytrecs (?) were pretty good--from Ann Arbor. The second band, Coltrane Ulrech (?) from Cleveland were atrocious. Keyboard, violin, treated vocals, pseudo-intellectual rock with a lot of attitude.
Our set this night was among my favorites so far. We didn't take a break and didn't concern ourselves with hurrying. Some very rabid fans at this one--once again rather embarrassing. Ron, the nice/dangerous radio guy we normally stay with was there and offered again but someone had accepted a place with some other people.
That night we did "Change Your Mind" again and this time I talked for quite a while about thighs and ham sandwiches.
We stayed in Little Italy part of town in an area of tall, narrow houses.
Oh, yes, we observed a three-story house engulfed in flames on our way to the Euclid Tavern that night.
Tuesday, Oct 11
A short period of fear this morning when Anne returned from the van saying that none of Jay's stuff was in the van. He had slept next door.
I had dreamt that I was in a tall, stripped-down industrial building with metal stairs and gay men cruising at the landings.
In the beautiful sunny warm fall weather we left for Louisville, KY. At one gas station we all showed off our versions of the goose-step and soldiers prance. We realized how this must of looked to a rural Ohio person--our California plated van, us in our colors prancing and lisping then jumping in the van and taking off. Better than work.
(someone) took a series of wrong turns leading us anywhere but to Louisville. This may be a bad day!
We arrived quite late at Butchertown pub, a labyrinthine bar/restaurant w/ indoor fountain, etc. The little king soundman cranking Alice In Chains and very into them. The promoter, a vivacious, bawdy conspiratorial woman named Elaine arrived and woke us up a bit.
The opening band overplayed and we did only one set to a very appreciative and, we were told, surprisingly large for Louisville on a Tuesday. We cleared out a lot of them. A night of many Guinesses. A fifty or so yr. old man w/ a thick Irish accent was beaming and seemed impressed. I later found out he played the bagpipes and grew up in Louisville and had no real accent! We stayed with Elaine in her wonderful house in a quiet neighborhood filled with old bldgs, houses and golden and peach leafed trees. Her dog Mushy was wonderful. He caught tennis balls and rapidly bit and released them making loud popping noises. Anne and I slept on a futon and coaxed Mushy to climb between us.
Some loser and his decent intelligent friend showed up to party and fortunately left by 3:30 or four.
Wednesday Oct 12
Slow waking with lingering tiredness. Researched getting the van front end aligned and ended up waiting on a phone call from a shop which resulted in _____ getting very impatient and upset. I took a short walk around the neighborhood and wanted to stay there--at least at this time of year.
We went to a strip of stores on Bartstown Road and had incredible pumpkin stew and went to this guitar emporium. People at both places had been to the show. I only wished Cathy from Freakwater had been there and asked me to marry her. The next day we would win the lottery, give it all away and then invent something that would keep us in money 'til the end.
Last night our bedtime joking centered around "Sir Wiffner Sniffner! Dost thine tongue not seek the rim?" (or "brown?").
We drove through beautiful changing leaves for 4 or so hours to Columbus, Ohio.
We were late.
John Spencer Blues Explosion was sound checking although the PA was down. We piled our stuff up and went out to eat at a nearby Indian restaurant. JSBE was already there when we got there. A kind of BAD night ensued. An opening band with practiced attitude and rock and roll ethics. A sold-out house packed to the walls. The PA went off during our set. They fixed it and we continued but had no purpose. Some of the crowd was very glad to see us.
JSBE played with little or no break between songs. I liked them and was a little jealous of the simplicity of their setup.
The air was unbreathable. I watched our equipment and enjoyed watching two girls and a guy dancing together all night. Their pleasure was unimpeachable.
I drank--Bela drank--we went to stay at Bela's house where Hugh's second wife, a tiny terrier named Richard (now 3 yrs old) lives with Ishvan (another dog). A nice night.
Thursday Oct 13
I tossed and turned all night. I finally got up at 10:30 and took a half of a bath and shaved badly.
I researched getting the van fixed in Columbus but had no good luck.
Went with Bela and his friend Gretchen to a countryside café in the beautiful hills outside Columbus. Bela implored she and I to ride with him in his new car. He couldn't get the driver-side door open and my seatbelt didn't work.
He was hungover but not cranky and I enjoyed being with the two of them.
The food was great although outside you could hear the constant popping of guns in the indoor pistol range next door.
We went to a monstrous thrift store on our way out of Columbus. Jay bought several pieces of pottery and Mark outfitted himself with cowboy boots and hat and a thin yellow sport coat. We had a tire shop put the spare on the front and I discovered a long wood screw in a rear tire that, when removed, left a large hissing hole that they patched hopefully for good.
Beautiful weather still. A long drive to Morgantown WV to play at Nyabinghi Dance Hall. When I wasn't driving I stared out the windows watching the trees go by and allowing them to blend together occasionally trying to dissect their color content.
All were tired by 8:30 that night when we pulled into the club. Morgantown is a pretty and very hilly Blue Mountain city with lots of nice old brick bldgs.
I kept thinking that 10 years ago I labored tensely for many months on the design of a WVU hospital bldg and it must be around here somewhere leaking and plugging up.
After sound check and delicious Indian food--piles of well-cooked chick peas--I went walking through the dark city; first into quiet, dark suburbs, then into the downtown thick with students.
I ran into Anne and we climbed a large hill covered with frat houses and young people. She was hilarious, her legs still sore from doing deep knee bends with me two days ago. The hills made her walk funny and feel old. We joked about being a rock band.
The night deteriorated from there. Things at the club don't start 'till midnight and we became very conscious of the need to go all the way to NYC tomorrow.
The chick peas, the hour, and ___'s desire to play for only a very short time combined to put me into quite a funk. Between 10 and 30 people watched us. Kukim, the opening band, were very good and powerful. We didn't leave town 'til 4am. Drove to a hotel somewhere in PA or Maryland and slept for 4 or 5 hours.
Friday Oct. 14
Drove in a stupor of leaves and gas stations for hours. I drove the last 4 hours into NYC; terrible traffic at Holland tunnel.
CBGBs was a mess with 8 or 9 bands. Alex and Matt were there helping us load in. No room for our stuff--too late to sound check.
Hugh was speaking to Mule's bassist when he saw someone moving around in our van. They crossed the street and the thief bolted. The bassist chased the guy down and threw him on the pavement. The guy struggled free and ran saying: "What the fuck are you doing!?"
He had broken our fly window but didn't steal anything.
We were supposed to get two sets--a CBGB rarity--but things were running so late that we played one set of 70 min. which angered Mule greatly. Their jerk guitar player/singer berated us from the stage to their audience.
I hung out in the pizza place next door w/ John Murray--he was going to buy me a beer but turned out to have only two dollars.
He told me that a large contingent of Mule fans were at the back screaming at us toward the end of our set.
We drove to Hugh's sister's house in New Jersey, arriving at 5am. It was a beautiful, quiet neighborhood and an old fixer-upper sprawling three-floored house.
Sat. Oct 15
Hugh's sister and her husband fixed us bacon, sausage and eggs and helped us clean the broken glass our off the van.
The weather was perfect. We had a nice drive to Boston. Once in Cambridge all became depressing. Chilly and disorganized was the atmosphere at the Middle east. They were hours behind schedule so our late arrival was right on time.
One monitor and an obnoxious soundman, an oversold club with no ins-outs, and too many bands on the bill.
We vented at length, deciding that all people of this city were at home masturbating bitterly and vindictively.
I fell asleep for an hour or so in the van.
Our set this night was fun nonetheless and the audience was very raucous.
Greg Freeman, Steve Fisk, and Ray Farrel were there to our surprise--drunk on record label whiskey.
That night some big, loud guy kept yelling for "The Wonderbread Display" which he finally aided us in semi-performing. The same guy called for "Sinking Boats" ad nauseum.
The sound guy there was another little king who attempted to push us around then later sucked up to us (someone must have bitched him out.)
Scott Flaherty told how he had been drunkenly speeding along on his bicycle and hit a parked car and put his head through the back window and still had the presence of mind to look for loose change in the back seat.
Each night I get closer to coming to grips with homelessness.
We stayed with Hot Philstein in his cramped apartment near the Middle East. We watched terrible video tapes and I went to sleep in the van.
Sunday Oct 16
I awoke knowing I had had too much to drink and had smoked too many cigarettes--having to pee but unable to rise--sweating profusely in all my clothes. Sunday late morning light exposing me to the rare passerby.
I peed long and deliciously at the van's rear tire. And unwisely lit a smoke. I stood, wavering slightly and smoked, surveying the beautiful day.
When I went upstairs to Phil's apartment, old saxophone driving black rock and roll quasi-novelty music was playing in all the rooms.
Phil was moving about pale-y and cheerfully.
His friend Scott came over (he's a filmmaker of some sort); a large-statured man with black hair and thick, black-framed glasses.
We all went to Picante, a good Mexican/health food place in Cambridge.
We wandered for a couple of hours with Phil leading. He struck up a conversation with a couple of suited guys by saying: "You guys Mormons?"
"Why, yes, we are. How did you guess?"
Phil showed us a video tape of Robert Tilton edits with fart noise overdubs--very funny.
We drove to Providence to open for Pavement. Lupo's is a 1600 capacity dance club. It took us a long time to find the place and when we got there and began unloading, a cop approached Hugh, put her hand on his chest (we think to check to see if he had been running) and asked him some questions intensely. When she turned away, Hugh said, "that was weird" and the cop came back spouting venom at him about is attitude at length.
The club people were very accommodating and it was a welcome change from the small club bad attitude and unprofessionalism of the last few shows.
Mark was sick, Anne was sick, Hugh was tired, Jay was disapproving.
After sound check two young men approached me--Jon from Providence and his friend David from Boston--about doing an interview. I liked them and ended up talking to them for nearly two hours. Our set that night was fine and ended oddly on "Guillotine" which took off in a particularly good vocal/guitar noise way.
Pavement was not thrilling to me. I spent much of their set gabbing with this Neil Young-looking guy named Malcolm who had grown up in San Francisco.
It was an all-ages show; there were lots of early teenage girls there for Pavement. Chuck from the first band (The Ass Ponies) said that when they did their cover of "Chevy Van" he looked into the front row at some 13 year old girl and thought: "she thinks I wrote this shit."
We stayed with Jon and David in Jon's spacious Providence apartment. It was a good night. Mark and I wrote a list of seminal tape and electronic composers for Jon to write a paper on.
Monday Oct 17
Headed back down to Boston. Jay took the van to have the window fixed and visit his parents, leaving the rest of us at his sister Lynn's house near downtown and the swan boats on Commonwealth Avenue. We walked all afternoon in beautiful cool weather.
Went to the Avalon Ballroom to sound check for another Ass Ponies-TFUL282-Pavement night. Once again, very courteous and professional people.
Warming up to the other bands, we talked and joked more with them then went with Phil to a diner. He was hilarious. He told us about his search and success at finding Dion McGregor at last. The Avalon looks like a spaceship inside with hundreds of lights for dancing, multi-levels and odd, curving back walls.
It was filled to capacity (around 1400 people).
It was kind of a harried night. I only started ordering the set list when it came time to play. I had a good time--a captive and large audience. We started with an improvised mandolin jam. I felt good immediately. People were moving already--the jerks!
At one point, a woman in the audience shouted, "You're the best band that ever lived!" Poor Mark was blowing his nose constantly.
I wandered the perimeter of the crowd and hung out with Phil who had agreed to sell our merchandise. He sold the TFU shirt he was wearing to a woman who wanted a half-price shirt.
Pavement's set had some very good/strange moments and a pretty good guitar wall.
I kept vaguely wishing to meet some girl to kiss with for a while, then giving up before trying. It took us a long, long time to leave that night. I sat with the Ass Ponies at a booth in a dance club connected to the Avalon. The club was closed and we were using it as a dressing room. We talked at length about how one might make a nearly perfect sphere and how old we are, etc. All but Jay stayed at Lynn and Eric's house.
A, H, and I sat up on the 9-story building's roof deck surveying the night city luxuriously.
Tuesday Oct 18
A long morning. I sat outside the building in the beautiful weather writing in my journal sitting on my tool box.
Jay drove us around to food and a music store.
I took over and drove through wondrous, hilly, thickly treed county in Massachusetts to Amherst College. The lumpy Berkshire mountains in early twilight.
We were to play a 200 or so capacity room for these privileged students opening up for Pavement. I didn’t like the students very much.
It was a nice night. Us and the Ass Ponies had a conference room-type backstage and we talked a great deal.
Our set was exceptionally good. Kristen from NYC had driven up and was floored by Fistfull of Dollars.
A hippy-looking guy came up and said he'd been listening to us for two years but had never seen us. He guessed that at least one of us was a short fat guy!
That night after sound check had been rather miserable. Anne was feeling terrible and Mark was still always blowing his nose. There was drizzling rain, and the restaurant recommended to us was crowded. I just stayed there anyway and a seat opened up by the time by food was ready. Everyone else eventually ended up coming to this place.
When I was leaving I ran into Anne, who was having some kind of attack that made her unable to think or get out of the rain, etc. My spirits were relatively high. Anne and I went to the van where I sipped JD and did a set list while trying to joke with Anne to open her up a bit.
That night Pavement truly impressed me. It was their last show of months of touring and it being a small club I could finally hear their true guitar sounds clearly.
They were screwing up a lot but not in a lazy way.
Endless counter-congratulations followed between the three groups.
I drove in light rain into the motel area of Amherst. A stop at a grocery store disoriented and depressed me--2am restocking to the feeble pulse of Motley Crue's version of "Smokin' in the Boy's Room". A monstrous store, zombie people, no good ready food.
We drove into North Hampton and asked about motels and checked a few out but ended up going all the way down to West Springfield to a Motel 6. I had driven too long past when I wanted to and felt crazy. I made valerian tea and took a Tylenol 3. I had a miserable night, itching from the T-3 and unable to pardon loud--way loud--snoring. I felt bizarre and ended up smoking at the end of the parking lot for a long while.
Wednesday Oct 19
I went to the motel room in a state of exhaustion and stumbled and swore steadily. I didn't say why I went out in the van but Anne had told them why and they seemed sheepish about it. We had breakfast and I was unable to form sentences; my head bobbed.
We drove into some small Connecticut town Southington where in the "Plantville" part of town there were several antique shops.
Jay ended up buying three radios and Mark informed me of the location of a 3/4 scale Silvertone acoustic guitar for $45. I did not hesitate to purchase it.
I sat smoking on the pavement near the van and played semi-Hawaiian slack key tunes while Hugh slept and everyone else went walking.
We found a Red Rooster Inn which was still a Howard Johnson's with the HoJo signs everywhere but in front.
We savored TV and beer and pointlessness. Went to a pizza place and drank Michelob. Went to sleep watching Nick at Nite shows. I slept well for the first time in a while.
Thurs Oct 20
I spoke intelligently on several subjects. At each rest stop I manipulated my body through several impossibilities and unlikelyhoods.
We drove through rain toward Philadelphia to renew our two-sets-headliner tour.
Hugh spent a weekend exploring Rush Limbaugh's rim. "My anus was never cleaner." Hugh produced his mother's corpse at RL's request and gave RL a blowjob while Rush devoured his mother. Hugh applauded with alacrity by slapping Rush's fanny.
It poured and traffic piled up endlessly. It took us over 6 hours to make it to Philadelphia when we thought 3 max was required.
Lexa met us outside Kyhber Pass. We didn't sound check and I talked to Bob--Strapping Fieldhands' singer for a while. He shared our lack of confidence in Johan signing either of our bands to American.
A long, tired night before playing. The first band was called Built to Spill from Idaho and they were humorless about there being another "BTS" from Seattle.
Walked with J, A, M, and Lexa to South Street, a Haight Street-type area, and had plain but good Middle Eastern food. Walked back to Kyhber in a warm nighttime; lots of leaves on the ground, very dark.
Some of us, especially Anne, were hitting walls of tiredness and cold-induced exhaustion.
We played two sets going up past 2am. The crowd was not large or in love with us but there were some rabid fans. This night I began to understand more the oddity of playing two sets and how it might take a lot of practice to do it well. Our "new set each night" means a lot of meandering and lulls that audiences do not yet care for.
We won the soundman over at least. It took a long time to leave. Hugh did an interview solo. Ian Christie rode with us in the wee hours all the way back to Hugh's sister's place in Montclair, NJ. A welcome haven. We were glad to avoid the nightmares of staying in Manhattan with all our equipment.
We woke late and tried to do laundry. Went walking in beautiful cool sunny weather through downtown Montclair. Ate bagels and soup outside. A very relaxed pace.
Went to Hoboken. A typical night at Maxwells. Snotty waiter, two interviews while eating. Run On, a Fish and Roses spinoff band was the opener. They were very good. Gerard delivered tshirts for us. Rusty, Liz, Eric Cohen, Jasper, Nathan Hageman were all there. This night was a blast. The audience whipped us into a state of desirable discomfort. I hid behind Anne's amp blowing smoke between the head and cabinet. Lots of talking and ridiculous jams.
We did "Fistfull" for Kristen to record and it was very good right up to the trumpet solo at the end. I was horrified when my guitar came unplugged right at the beginning of the solo. I didn't get back into it till near the end!
Endless talk and hugging and chumminess ensued. L had too much to drink and said we were the greatest band. Went to Montclair very happily avoiding NYC again.
We brought Peter Lucas with us because he couldn't interview us in the hectic Maxwells. I slept soundly for many hours.
Sat. Oct 22
Jay bought bagels and we luxuriated a while before commencing the loathsome trip to loathsome D.C. I strung my Silvertone and wanted to blow off tonight's show and just dink around with Hawaiian melodies.
Peter still hadn't done the interview so he road with us to D.C.
The drive was ok with a fairly continuous stream of humor and D.C. bashing.
Peter and Hugh argued about the merits and usefulness of England, The British "Empire", etc. We saw rats immediately upon entering the apocalyptic alley leading behind the 930 club. We were 2 hours late.
930 is one of the coldest-feeling, harshest-sounding places I've ever been. They ignored our contract and put two openers on the bill. A difficult night. A couple of dolts interviewed us badly and in a gossipy way.
Too many people in the dressing room hanging out. Things ran late and we did one long set featuring a lot of quiet stuff. The audience must have been 100 people or more at the beginning--far better than usual for us in D.C. People did not cheer much but most stayed. Some very nice jams. I thought we overcame the oppressive (to us) "rock" atmosphere at least for a while.
We didn't really quit with a bang and people didn't realize we were done.
William and Adrian from Baltimore introduced themselves as friends of Allisters.
We loaded out late in the very crappy alley of 930 and went to the home of Hugh's friend Martin in Arlington, driving past the dark White House late at night. Anne spouted venom about the appearance of the pedestrian yuppies.
Sun. Oct 23
I woke and stared out the window looking out the back of the house into the yard full of colored trees dripping rain. It was raining fairly hard and I wondered if Mark could sleep in the van. Anne and I hid upstairs from the voices of Martin's roommates watching television.
We left there quickly as the game came on television and his roommates looked at us benignly but with a certain suspicion.
Hugh was supremely cranky and so was I.
We took Peter Lucas w/ us to a breakfast place. It was raining and gray. Peter interviewed us in the van, then we dropped him at a train station and headed for Richmond, VA--a three hour drive. Richmond looked like a depressed old city. The Sunday atmosphere added to the unlikely atmosphere of the café we were to play in.
My microverb and amp both went down during sound check.
An odd night. We hung out in the van thinking of leaving. I went o a nearby basement restaurant and had coffee and a tart listening to Randy Travis and feeling like staying there.
Our hopes for leaving were crushed when someone came up to the van saying they were looking forward to our show.
We told him we were going to play for him.
There were two bands again; Lump and Mao Tse Helen. Both full-on noise/jazz with millions of notes very loud, some of it perfectly buffoon-ish.
Jay and Hugh began playing pool without once using the cue properly. They tried every variation and often cursed vehemently when their shot didn't work. It was hilarious and I didn't want to be anywhere else.
We played to 10 or 15 people. I didn't at all enjoy the sound of the bass amp I was using. By the end of the set we were doing "Hive" as members of the other bands staggered in front of us--one played trumpet throughout the whole song. It had a great feel of looseness and borderlessness. Afterwards the drummer brought everything down slightly by singling each one of us out to beg for a tshirt.
We went to Liz’s (of Gwar fame) place for the night. The alley behind her house as well as the houses were of that intricate decay and lean that are portents of the long-romantic (to me) history and crime.
A very cat-smelling place. Cat: Gus, an odd, jumpy, bright-eyed thing. One of our bag’s caught their bong and broke it, spilling old bong water on the table and floor.
I slept in the corner of Liz's room occasionally waking to the lunatic cat's wooden pounding down the long, narrow hallway between the small back living room and Liz's room
Mon. Oct 24.
I flopped my hand out onto the floor not knowing how to get comfortable after a night of fitful tossing. Gus soon found it and began playing with me neurotically.
Jay and I took my amp to a repair shop "Backstage' on Broad St.
Went to breakfast and wandered around. I ended up buying a $210 reverb unit.
Hugh and I walked to the Strawberry Street area (Berkeley-type) through streets of very old colonial and European houses; leaves gold, orange and brown deep on the ground and just damp enough to be very aromatic. Warn with unbroken sunshine.
Hugh and I watched the Power Rangers with Liz's roommate Greg, a slit-eyed, bowlegged, slow-moving nice fellow who played with his amazing fur-ball puppy purchased that day.
Picked up the amp. Rented "Rosemary's Baby", "Down by Law" and ordered out for Chinese food. A wonderful night off.
Tues Oct 25
More beautiful weather but most of us slept too long and got cranky.
We had breakfast at the same place as yesterday. Yesterday our waitress had a strange exotic accent and demeanor. Liz told me she grew up around Richmond.
I talked to a band named "Bob"--a coincidence considering the prevalence of the name Bob in "Down by Law".
They were playing for gas money tow nights in a row at the Chronos.
We drove to Chapel Hill NC in nice 70s weather and arrived early for once.
Very happy to be there. I could feel a cold or infection beginning to settle on me.
Two interviews and a photo shoot for local college papers and a magazine.
All of the people doing them were interesting and intelligent. Went to eat bad Mexican food with ? and an English woman interviewed named Caroline.
The photo thing had to do with food and we had a fine time with plastic silverware, sandwiches, baby carrot teeth, banana pistols, cucumber hands, pineapple baby, and mustard bottle heads. The first band was good, named Bicentennial Quarter, with a nice guy named Walker (a friend of Jack the Palace Brother guy I met in D.C.) on guitar.
A good crowd, 250 or so; plenty of space on stage and lots of enthusiasm from the audience. I was feeling physically terrible and my throat was sore, joints aching.
Some great jams this night. We did "Waited Too Long" and at the end I turned on distortion and vibrato and got a lovely continuous bowed sound that led into a wonderful piece with banjo--I had discovered that night that my viola bow was missing and probably was left in D.C.--This for some reason killed my amplifier. I had to finish the set using the unfriendly bass head again.
Some people were yelling things like "You're the best band of all time" again. One fellow told me it was the best live show he'd seen in is life. It didn't seem nearly that worthy to me but I thought it was a good night for us.
We went to stay at the English interviewer Caroline's house that night loaded with backstage food. It was very cold and I was feeling deep sickness--chills and dizziness.
I went to sleep on the sofa in Caroline's room and fantasized vaguely about asking her if she would like to be held. I slept miserably, never warm enough, chills in my stomach pushing toward nausea by 8:00am when Caroline went to school. I had slept only a couple of hours.
Wednesday October 26
I forced myself to lie still with the sleeping bag zipped all the way. After a long while of feeling the same level of chill, I moved and discovered I was bathed in sweat and was hit with severe chills in my abdomen.
I got up and called some music stores then drove with Jay in light rain out to Durham to Bull City Sound on Broad St. (same as Backstage in VA) and dropped the poor amp off there.
Back at Caroline's house I sat in the kitchen and had a nice long conversation with Joan, a roommate, until Caroline showed up again.
We all eventually took off to a mall to buy Echinacea. We got recognized three times which is quite odd and a small thrill to boot.
We said goodbye to Caroline and drove out to Durham to get the amp. It was a good shop--they had a tube and he put an end on a power adapter for me for free and didn't charge a rush fee.
I drove still feeling flu-ish to Wilmington, N.C. (Cape Fear!). Two hours of forest hills flowing by at 70-80mph, almost no roadside stops.
I was pinching and slapping myself to stay awake. Jay drove the last hour into town. The Bourgeoisie Pig was the club--a very tiny place with 2/3 of the floor overhung with a balcony. The band sets upon the floor by the entrance and the PA--a dilapidated small Peavey head sits on the floor in front of the drums.
The promoter was not there and hadn't told the person in charge anything about the show.
Jay: "You should've told us not to load in if you knew we should leave the stuff in the van before playing."
Anne: "Are there two openers? There better not be! Look at the contract!"
Jay: "You're supposed to be paying for our food"
The guy was kind of a dip anyway.
We wandered downtown where some rock and roll film was being made. A band was set up on top of the Marquee (the show's promoter was playing the band's drummer).
Much of our potential audience was working on the film.
We ate at an expensive place.
Jay and I interviewed in the van for a Skate magazine while M, H, and A did a video interview in the club.
When the first band went on I was upstairs doing a set list and was nearly knocked to the floor by their volume. Fortunately Hugh loaned me some earplugs.
Near the end of their set a woman plucked one of Hugh's earplugs out and yelled "listen to this band!"
It took us a long time to set up.
We ended up playing a lot of quiet things. An odd feeling having to see the face of each person who leaves while you're playing. Ended with a long jam at the end of "Hive" An odd audience this night. One person who had never heard us before wanted to congratulate Mark in advance for a show that he knew would be great.
We were videotaped from the balcony.
We went to a gas station after the show and ran into a couple of guys from the first band. They were on their way home to Chapel Hill, a 2 1/2 hour drive. One had to go to work at 7:30am. It was 3am then.
We stayed at the Wilmington Fountain Motel.
That night at the restaurant we worked on the set list while the reserved waiter filled our water glasses--song names like "My Pal Hitler" and "Descent into Hitler's Asshole" in full view on my pad.
Thursday Oct 27
I slept very well and woke with lung and head congested with yellow infection style mucous, but in fairly high spirits. Sunny weather as we start this long slow drive to Athens Georgia.
Stretches of two lane road leading passed farms and towns both dilapidated and regal, along black water swamp type forests. I felt warm finally and very mellow.
I laid belly-up on the loft slowly picking out guitar mantras. The sun occasionally on the horizon filling the van with antique orange.
We arrived in Athens and got lost in a way following the very non-specific directions given by the 40 Watt. We arrived 1 hr, 45 min. late.
We sound checked; throughout the whole loadin and setup Jay was talking to Ray on a cordless phone. We went to Grits, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant. Then wandered around town and into Jittery Joes, an alternative-type 24-hour coffee house near the 40 Watt.
I occasionally had premonitions about a bad night ahead because I was feeling a sort of "everything is great now, nothing could go wrong" feeling that often precedes unenjoyable shows for me.
We were provided with Guiness and all.
We had only 1 hour to play. There were nearly 200 people there. A belligerent drunk guy who kept blowing smoke up at Anne and I continually yelled: "Play Hell Rules!" and at one point when Mark was noodling in between songs said: "What the fuck is that?! No more noodling!"
"Arbeiter" fell on entirely uninterested ears. One woman nearby even booed.
The stage balance was bad and the monitors muffled sounding--the audience invisible behind glaring lights.
We loaded out as the 80's disco night oozed in. I felt depressed and my cold hung on me like a cold, water-logged quilt.
It was cold outside, nearing frost temperatures. We hooked up with Billy- a 30ish clothing store owner who experienced a true life turnaround when Three Day Stubble came through a month earlier. He could talk.
Went to Billy's house. I could not talk. Listened to and looked at his collection of rare easy listening records.
His dog Skunk (or Jerky) was a small 8 year old Dachsund/Spitz who had never been fixed. He got over-stimulated and ended up air humping while standing on Mark's sleeping bag, looking excitedly into Mark's eyes. He pee'd on Mark's and Hugh's sleeping bags causing a huge ruckus.
The chorus of snores made me sleep fitfully until daybreak then I slept till nearly 1pm.
We went back to Grits for food then to Billy's store. Billy drove me out into a wealthily suburban neighborhood where I bought a viola bow from a young man who struck me as a fundamentalist christian weirdo.
When leaving Billy uttered his only words to this man: "Happy Halloween."
Billy and I commiserated about sexual frustration on the way back.
I didn't notice the drive to Atlanta at all.
This time we were playing The Point in the trendy 5 Points area.
The soundman there, Ernie Dale, was a true nut, Dick Clarke-looking guy who said he owned the place--he may have, but his non-stop self-referential name dropping music industry history and sound theory anecdotes and lectures left us wondering how much of what he said was true.
When I went into the kitchen to get some coffee, the staff therein were rolling their eyes and commenting on Ernie's personality.
Ernie was a country music songwriter and musician who was on the road as a child performer at age 7 supporting his family in Florida. He and his brother (I think) ran CBGB's during the Blondie era and now they have The Point which he says is there as a "showcase" primarily--and also to "entertain bands."
Went to an Indian restaurant where the waiter tried to push appetizers and condiments and desserts and extra dishes on us all at additional costs. He was like a panhandler more than a waiter. Smoke was the opener this night and there was a good crowd they had. Cello, Guitar, banjo, sousaphone, coronet, trumpet, horizontal floor tom for a kick drum, bizarre Tom Waits/Nick Cave/David Tholfsen type singer. Quiet and well-paced. A lot of weirdos in this part of Atlanta. Subtley different graffiti, subtly different drunks.
Our sets were OK. The second set began oddly with us playing to the house music on mandolin and E-guitar. Ernie slowly faded the house music and we took over.
After we were done there were an awful lot of uncomfortable admirers who felt embarrassed but compelled to tell us they like us. I didn't know how to respond to make them feel at ease and not ridiculous. There were an unusual number of drunken swayers gawking about.
Ernie Dale played my Silvertone while we loaded out, continually talking about his own Kay and how mine was so true up the neck.
Went to Decatur area outside Atlanta to Hugh's sister Val's house and didn't sleep till nearly 5am. I slept on the covered porch. It was cold and I got locked out and had to pee in their yard. I dreamt I was in either a cold weather or a space suit involved in some kind of medic role in a war front. I was pushing a cart with a dissected or blown-up frozen body on it. I was also hauling a frost-covered, leaking, oxygen hose. The building seemed to have the basic structure of the milking area of our barn back home.
Next to me someone was carrying an upright, forward facing, open-eyed corpse of a nurse whose selfless history was being fed into my brain quietly. Her eyes were bulging and one had strayed.
Sat Oct 29
I woke up having to pee and feeling hung over and realized that I had camped out in front of another apartment door.
I knocked until Mark woke and let me in. I wandered around all morning ready to go and sat in some weeds on a wall around the back playing guitar to the sound of a lawn mower.
The weather was cool and sunny. We took off for Gainesville, Florida, a mostly uneventful drive for me. Occasionally I stared with some awe into the dark swampy, vine-covered bogs and wondered what it would be like to strike out into one.
Near Gainesville we hit overwhelming downpours. The club--The Covered Dish--was damp and oddly shaped with a deepset dance floor. I felt far from good. Smoking hurt; coughing was racking me occasionally.
Ray Dalere showed up. Jay stared at him smiling throughout sound check.
Went to Trey and Angie's house a couple blocks away in light rain. A steamy, crooked floored busy house with three cats. We had dumpling soup as thunder and rain swirled outside.
Meringue (sp?) did a noisy and kind of tuneless set with good meandering stage presence and I liked Trey's guitar playing plenty.
Our set truly surprised me--actually it was more the audience that did it: there were young attractive girls screaming.
We played two long sets to a fairly large and appreciative audience that never really dwindled. There was much hope between Mark and Hugh to connect with the nubiles.
I felt there was not a chance for me, me old & fat.
Stayed up very late at Angie and Trey's eating pizza and talking.
I slept poorly without a sleeping bag.
Sun Oct 30
I woke to a heavy downpour of rain so heavy there were no percussive plops, just a homogenous roar. I felt terrible. My first cough dislodged a pound of thick mucous. My therma rest pad had popped and my lungs hurt.
Angie fixed a big plate of pancakes and scrambled eggs. It was very homey.
Angie and Hugh and I drove in the rain to get American Spirits and coffee. I got dropped off at a coffee place that didn't actually sell the stuff so I stood outside waiting and watching people in the rain. It all felt very foreign even though we'd driven the whole way there.
We drove through incredible awful slow traffic for hours towards Tampa. Jay and Ray went separately in Ray's car. There were to get lost as Jay fell asleep and they ended up in Orlando.
The club--The Stone Lounge--laid on the outskirts of town in a dilapidated, sidewalkless, desolate and dark area.
We ate in a nearby hippy-run seafood restaurant dedicated to the Grateful Dead. The food was fine but the constant Dead music and clientele bothered me.
Anne and I walked a mile or so down the road looking for a good pay phone. We came upon a bizarre old single level store of some kind. Weeds had grown tall around it, the windows were all painted over from the inside and towards the rear it looked as though the building was falling apart. The door had stick-on letters that said "DNA." There was melancholy torch song-type music coming from the inside. The wooden walkway at the door was rotting.
The much better-kept building adjacent was a strip club so, considering common zoning laws, this DNA was probably an alcoholic business man in a pig suit licking baby's blood off a 14 year old nude Korean boy type club. There were no outside lights. I peed in the bushes near some type of leaking sump pit inset into a parking lot.
Surprisingly enough, a large number of Meringue and of course the St. Petersburg girls club were there. A good-sized audience. Our sets were almost all different from the previous night. Some improv, nothing memorable.
After the show we went to a hotel and gleefully watched a bad horror movie. Anne and I were coughing constantly. It was still warm and humid at 4am.
Monday Oct 31
No one in our room slept well. I woke with H in the bed with me. I got out of bed after 4 hours of semi-sleep and showered. Maids came to our room three times that morning before we realized that we had a "maid requested" sign in a slot in the door.
Anne, who couldn't sleep either, went for a walk and bought a bunch of nail polish.
I watched a hilarious physical comedy (Mr Bean?) show and felt a little better.
We drove in nice weather to Stetson University north of Orlando where a student--Jack--had set up an afternoon show for us.
We played a subdued hour to 40 or so distant students. Jack paid us $500 and we went to his sprawling house and had good pizza and salads.
We took off very late for Orlando. This club--The Downtown Jazz/Blues Club--was indeed downtown and very near a major Halloween bazaar.
The entire area was crammed with costumed cruisers. Lot of revealing costumes and reveling drunks. The St. Petes girls club was there again as well as the Meringue contingent. The night was interminable. Three opening bands and endless coughing fits and nose blowing. There was no backstage. I sat on the floor, earplugs in, eyes closed nearly dozing in the merchandise area. Girvel was the worst bludgeoning drivel I'd heard in a long time.
We played to a full house of drunks and yellers. Two full sets. At one point a giant 7 foot bloody Kotex got on stage with us next to Hugh and hopped up and down for a while.
The street entrance was standing open and when I sang, turned sideways, I was looking right at people at the doorway considering entering.
The SPGC stood screaming in front of Mark and Hugh again. Trey stood in front of me wearing Angie's dress and this made me feel well-attended.
Lot's of weird people at the bar after 2:30am.
One busty stripper-looking dried-up blonde wearing tight clothes and a toothy smile was sitting on a stool in front of a motionless business-suited man who was wearing a full head fat man or pig mask. While loading the van, I looked across the nearly empty club and say the woman standing and dancing by herself. She looked up across and out to me. I heard her yell for someone to close the door.
Tuesday Nov. 1
Morning memory foggy.
We breakfasted during the working person's lunch hour. The waitress was forgetful, brought Mark a moldy grapefruit and left some of Jay's bacon side laying on the floor after it fell from the plate as she brought it to the table.
A long drive to Tallahassee. Our drive took us through much green forest and swamp land and past an entire home (mobile size) that had fallen from a trailer and disintegrated on the roadside. I had tried to sleep all day and was confused and witless as a result.
I found at soundcheck that I had somehow lost my amplifier's footswitch in Orlando. When I tried to call the club there I could not even write a phone number down correctly on the third try.
They provided shitty pizza and no coffee so I took the Stetson mug and walked to a string of fast food places to get hot water to make the last of our coffee.
The club--The Cow Haus--was again in a desolate outskirt free of sidewalks, pedestrians and trash pickup.
The clean white boys in the "Whattaburger" stared dully into the empty dining room hoping for an end to this horror.
We did an interview on video for the college cable station. The interviewer was a very charming young future yuppie who had the most direct and pleasant face I'd seen in a long time.
Back at the Cow Haus, no one had done a set list and I only had a few minutes to throw something together.
I felt great, though, at the beginning of the set; playing was effortless and I could hear improv things constantly. The audience response was so-so to small. I talked afterward with a warm and interesting guy named Kelly who I'd met the previous night. I liked him immediately. We stayed with he and his girlfriend Heather. Heather was sexually appealing to me in the extreme. Long muscular legs and a big round fanny. Writing this down makes me think my buildup problem is actually a real problem.
She had two tiny nighties hanging in the bathroom and picturing her in them made me swoon and feel guilty simultaneously.
We stayed up late talking to the couple about UFO abductions and noise music.
After the set, Frog from Meringue came up and we talked, periodically saying goodbye and hugging. I could really get to know that man! He does puppet shows, too.
Wednesday, Nov 2
Woke up with a sleepy all-white cat nestled on the futon.
Anne and I watched a Cyndi Crawford exercise video and tried to follow along lurching and stumbling. Kelly went with us to a great, inexpensive "international house of food" for middle eastern food complete w/ comments on the likelyhood that we'd be stinking up the van after digesting the food. Drove in clear, warm, sunny weather on West Hwy 10 toward New Orleans.
We were very late, of course. It had been dark a long time when we arrived at the Howlin Wolf, just northwest of the Quarter.
Pretty desolate out there. Anne felt absolutely terrible, her lung infection not relenting. Ray was doing very funny and accurate slow redneck impressions.
We were to play that night with another San Francisco band, The Loved Ones. They were Mod types with attitude. Very young and anxious to be accepted as professionals.
The show was to be broadcast live on the radio. My amplifier went crazy in a loud popping way with tubes arcing and flashing then darkness. I replaced the new tubes that had blown, replaced the fuse, and it worked the rest of the night.
Anne and I wandered through the "river walk" and Hotel forest near the river. It was warm and humid. The walk back to the club was a constant juxtaposition of wonderful old decaying structures with expressive architecture and modern concrete studios on the rectangle and planter.
That night Harvey Bennett Stafford was there, and Tynan from Little My was there. Harvey was in town doing a mural for Egyptian Studios where Gary Held had proposed for us to record with the New Orleans Symphony. Harvey related several stories of theft in N.O. recently.
The Loved Ones ironically performed music that could be heard by a dozen blues bar bands that night within twenty square blocks.
No one watched them. Their singer was being chatty for the radio and announced us not remembering the 282 and saying "Some number" then adding "we love them"
A decent-sized audience, an uninspired set with Anne coughing through songs. I was hating not having channel-switching capabilities.
We went with Dan McNaughton (ex-Caroliner bassist and ardent N.O. resident who kindly offered us lodging) and Harvey to the downtown building--an old Masonic lodge--to inspect the recording studio. The place was fantastic, complete with 25 or 30 ft ceilings, Egyptian motif, Leslie speaker cabs, a huge pump organ, Studer 24 track, etc. I felt very privileged and excited. 3:00am weeknight magnificent atmosphere.
Went to "Uptown" neighborhood to Dan's house at Magazine and Napoleon. A very strange and foreign place to me. Outside there was a hazy city light sky. Down the street a huge decaying rambling old house with several porches and decks all canted at different angles, its once white walls stained unevenly by dark mildew or smoke. Up the street a small store's roof was so grown green that it appeared as a full lush lawn.
Dan and his wife Shannon's place was very well-kept long and narrow apartment in an old single-level, tall, 5 or so apartment place. Dan's monstrous string bass occupying most of one room. I slept ok.
Thurs Nov 3
Woke with tired muscles and Anne coughing. I'm very worried about her.
Jay was in the kitchen, he'd slept for 45 minutes before having to drive Ray to the airport. He'd gone back to sleep in the van after returning but was woken by the stream of loud school children going to the gradeschool across the street.
Mostly black pre-teens with accents so thick and talk so fast that it sounded like an entirely foreign language.
It took a while to load up. It was very hot and humid out. The sky was lumpy gray. Went to the Bluebird Café then drove down Magazine street and subsequent similar pointed streets heading towards a music store with Peavy footswitches. (Werlein's Music on Decatur)
The drive took us through some great neighborhoods of semi-decay, two story, three story buildings leaning wetly upon one another and a detour lead us through some narrow streets of West Oakland-like housing and raggedly dressed people clopping lazily down the midday sidewalks.
The store was perfect--run by old men with Cajun accents. I drove out of town in a good mood. I love the first four or so hours of the drive to Houston from New Orleans. I was fascinated by the long stretches of swamp causeway.
At each free flowing river I would look to find houseboats clinging to the shore and wonder what life would be like there.
Everyone but Mark slept almost the whole way.
An entire afternoon of cloud gazing. High-piled clouds with sun rays angling and highlighted in their path.
Driving through Lafayette I pictured the Balfa Brothers getting carry-out food. I was charged up clear into the night.
In Houston at the Urban Art Bar everyone else seemed cranky and didn't want to play. My amp presented yet another problem by having one channel prohibitively quiet. I set up the awful bass head again.
A terribly insincere, often lying promoter, bad food, no rider provisions other than bad Shiner Bock Beer and a bar staff who cranked wretched rock and roll and three bands on the bill. Ironically, I felt more like playing than I had for some time.
There was a good-size audience, surprisingly enough, and we started right out with a noise jam. It pushed us into it and did the same when we did "Raymond H", pushing the fertile break with big-muffed mandolin. I enjoyed the whole set.
Bliss from the Painteens came up immediately afterward. Smart, funny girl. I could've talked to her a long time.
Outside it was incredibly hot and humid at 2am. It had rained and water stood in small puddles inside the van's roof box.
A garbage truck roared down the misty street with clouds of paper coming out the top leaving the street richly littered in its wake.
Both the soundman and the promoter tried to scam free CDs off us.
We went to a depressing looking Motel 6 complex outside the huge sprawl of Houston. Weird white trash hanging out there at 3am. Old cracker to young cracker: "Make sure you bring me back some pussy. Heh heh" Young man: "I'll be lookin for it." Old cracker: "You got it all holed up." We watched TV 'til 4am. I woke much during the night with Anne coughing in the bathroom. My concern for her growing.
Friday Nov. 4
Driving toward Austin in overcast dense humid air. A stop-over in La Grange, TX for a bank. I walked around the town square. A small, typical town. Walking through an old restaurant to the bathroom I was happy again not to be working.
I imagined growing up here, being overly familiar with the uneven plaster and grass green painted trim of the restaurant's walls.
Driving out of town past small wood houses with big lawns and farm implement dealerships. This hot and close and already November.
We enter Austin in a rain storm of great gush and blow. It stopped before we entered city proper. We unloaded and took off on a walk. (Emo's on Redriver near 6th St.)
A, H, and I walked a good distance and became rejuvenated in the process. I was wagging my arms and snorting by the end.
We were to play in the semi-outdoor portion of the club. After soundcheck we walked around in light rain and ended up eating at Jaimes, a Mexican restaurant that made chile rellenos with meat stuffing rather than cheese to Mark's dismay.
Emo's slowly filled as I watched the first band, Swangkee Lowtell. I loved their show. Great guitar dynamics as well as wonderful stage moves by the guitarist who politely asked to borrow a low E string from me because those are the ones he usually breaks.
I sat with Richard from Crust in the outdoor area. He filled me in on his own transition to being a redneck and John's being stalked by a lunatic crack fanatic woman who was suing him for abuse. Richard looked profoundly tired.
Moist Fist had a very impressive stage show with translucent plastic funnels painted thusly (a diagram was drawn in here consisting of a circle with lines drawn into the center area. It reads: One Boob. Light shines out here. Glow in the dark tube-nipple)
It began pouring rain before they were done.
When we took the stage I felt magnificently strange. Rain pounded the sheet metal roof over my head and boiled on the floor of the uncovered area. Occasionally there was thunder and lightening. The covered area was packed. My amp actually worked the entire time and so did my hands and feet. The viola foiled me however. This possibly my favorite night of this tour.
The staff were futilely trying to scare people out but we talked for a long while to friends afterwards.
I gave a CD to the soundwoman and felt immediately guilty, stupid, and predictably male. She won. Emo's gave us a complimentary case of Shiner Bock (boo!) and we went to Gary (Ed Hall) and Kelly's new (old) house on a wooded hill near downtown with an entourage--Lymon, Larry, Luke, Dave. Kelly was on a roll. It had stopped raining before we loaded out and the air was somewhat cooler. I got fairly woozy and went to sleep quickly and deeply.
Sat. Nov. 5.
I woke suddenly in the early morning to see someone over my head opening the front door to leave. They looked down at me and half smiled and left. I thought perhaps someone familiar with the situation there had just snuck in and robbed the place and was about to drive off with our van, complete w/ Mark's corpse.
I fell back to sleep eventually.
A wonderful respite day. Gary fixed some breakfast and coffee while we did laundry and watched Carpenter's videos. A, J, M and I went to a Whole Foods and loaded up on everything good. The weather was fantastic--cool and sunny.
Back at Gary's we packed up and loaded out after exchanging European tour stories. Luke Savinsky showed up spreading his warm smile and patient air.
We headed west out of Austin in late afternoon, still clear and cool, sun going low and softer yellow as we entered the vast plains of west Texas.
We drove on small roads late into the night and stopped at a Taco Bell in Big Springs, TX and watched teenagers doing the Saturday night cruise loop turnaround nearby.
At one gas stop, a skinny 40-ish dull-eyed sunburned slow-talking guy sitting in a van asked me how far if was to Dallas. I didn't know--out of town. He said "Hell, Dallas is where I'm from!" "I'm from San Francisco" "Shit. San Francisco--that's a fucked up town!"
I walked away quickly.
We finally stayed in Clovis just inside New Mexico at about 3:30am and watched all of a bad movie called "Nightbreed" while drinking wine and getting progressively punchier. We finished the night making bad jokes using the word diaper in every movie we could think of. (Thwart: Diaper Nightmare. Diaper on Elm Street. West Side Diaper. McDonalds Bean Burritto: McDiaper)
Sun. Nov 6
I woke too early and lay awake a long time while, finally showering and staggering around the hot parking lot.
We watched the first half of the original Mash then I drove us around Clovis trying to find breakfast. Clovis is not terribly interesting.
We ate at a full, family-style place--the waitress turning two of our breakfasts into mush and crockery shards at her feet.
I drove toward Albuquerque on two-lane, badly rutted road going 80 nonetheless when I could. Passed through some interesting depressed old towns and mostly uninhabited plains of dry brown, occasionally houses and cattle.
I was very cranky indeed upon our arrival into the city. The club--The Golden West---was in a dead part of town and the streets in front of it were all closed.
Soundman and food late. No cigs nearby--only Budweiser and a word from the promoter that the contract was wrong: $250, not $400. (Peter said this was not discussed with him)
An interesting enough old building--old style panels of wood carved ceiling. I felt like being snotty and complaining but I held my tongue once again.
We ate sandwiches as the promoter Alan told us he would pay $400 without argument.
All but Jay went to the van and lay listlessly joking under sleeping bags. It was cold and quiet. We went in while the first band "Allucaneat" was doing their harsh and a little strange music and hung around in the adjacent theatre/bar that was closed off for the night.
Our set was very short because the place had to close by 12:30.
There were some good moments of noise but overall the stage sounded so dead and Hugh broke so many strings that we didn't really accomplish much before having to stop.
Wendy, the very charming girl we had stayed with three years prior was there and offered us floor space again. Chuck from Chapel Hill was there, stopping in on a Small tour.
I pulled the van around the closed street in front of the building via a series of oneways, a parking lot and a frighteningly steep curb.
Allucanent mistakenly took off with Mark's toiletry bag. They called the club and asked us to wait 'til they brought it back.
We entertained ourselves with Jay's fireworks, feeling very conspicious in the quiet city on a closed street. Whenever something went off that was particularly loud we all scooted around to the opposite side of the van.
We went to Wendy's nice old stucco house not far from the university. I pulled a couple of beers out of my tennis shoes and Anne and I drank them outside.
I slept in the van, fitfully, due to remnants of Chi Power in my system.
Mon. Nov 7
Peed in the middle of the night luxuriously and loudly and conspicuously long in the open. I couldn't sleep in the daylight and went into the house and was happy to find Anne and Wendy and a couple of roommates whose names I didn't get.
It was nice to be around Wendy. She and Marco had spent 4 months traveling--much of it in West Africa. I wanted to get to know her better and over a long period. She had nice, masculine, large hands. She looked more tired or dry than I remember and this did not detract from her appeal. We spent many hours it seemed getting out of her place. We headed toward Santa Fe's UFO museum in beautiful, partly cloudy weather--most of us tired.
We stopped in Santa Fe and walked around a couple hours. Santa Fake and FantaSe, Wendy called it and implored us to explore small towns north of there instead.
I disliked the city--as much of it as I saw--despite its attempts at maintaining the "stucco only" building laws.
Anne and I walked out along a park with a river and deep leaves. Jay bought some stuff. We hung around a couple of hours and drove out north to Espanola for the night at Wendy's recommendation. We ended up staying in a hotel called Arrow in a big room with three beds and a tile floor with old chairs and a desk.
We drank wine and read and talked on the phone outside then drove around the dead place looking for food--an unsatisfying effort.
Mark, Anne, and I ended up spending a long while with our bodies contorted and intertwined with furniture, trying to laboriously drag/push ourselves toward one end of the room, ending up in a squealing gridlock.
I heard a police car PA out in the street say: "Get out of the road!" and guessed that Jay was involved. He was rollerblading down Highway 85.
Tues Nov 8
Drove through the main non-strip part of El Espanola. Getting breakfast was no fun, largely due to group think with unclear thoughts.
Finally left Espanola north toward Colorado and Valley View Hot Springs north of Alamosa in southern Colorado. An amazing drive. In NM and CO many old small towns with run down and collapsed stucco buildings and all kind of crooked wooden structures and rusty fences and dead pickups, cars, and locomotives. All the while the big muted valleys and snow-covered ridges around us.
Our last stop before Hot Springs was a small--very small--town called Via Grove. It was very strange there. The main store was almost full of men in hunting clothes and unshaven mugs. A one-half horse town.
A fat 40ish hunter waited for the phone outside, shaking his head and cracking to his pal as Jay pranced, high spirited for the moment.
We drove a straight dirt road for 7 miles across a valley floor and slightly into the mountains. We moved into the communal bunk house and went up the hill, took off our clothes and jumped into the fairly warm water. We stayed 'til dark, occasionally being showered with light sleet, looking out over the black water and valley into the last remnants of light in the sky. Then we froze our asses off getting out and back to the bunk house.
Mark and I used the sauna and took turns plunging out into the cold, running naked through the yard and jumping into the warm pool, then going back to the sauna. The one time I did this I came across a couple of fully dressed couples in the full yard light. In the pool I looked up at the stars that were now out and slowly paddled around face-up alone in the big main pool. The air was very cold and thin. One week ago: Florida!
We were sharing the communal house with an interesting pair of 40ish guys who were driving their bus from Woodstock to Baja. I admired them and their bus--a big, rambling, less than full-length, blue school bus with a moped (for getting parts) mounted on the front. There was also a sickening couple, man and woman, from somewhere near Denver who came there a lot. She to me in the kitchen: "I guess you're not vegetarians. That's ok. Others come here sometimes who aren't either."
We had thrown all our food together into one big pot not realizing that Progresso Black Bean soup has bacon in it. Mark ate it anyway.
I should not write about this shit.
One of the Woodstock guys did Beatles songs--a good voice but I didn't come to the wilderness to hear that.
I went to bed on a mattress that kept my head lower than my stomach. At 4am Anne and I went out to pee. The stars were brighter than I'd ever seen, almost intrusive.
This place is full of nearly tame deer that wander all over the yards and buildings.
Wednesday Nov 9
I woke early to Jay's talking with someone in the kitchen. It was clear and cold out. I had an aimless morning: laid out on a picnic table at the edge of the valley, mind moving very slowly despite two cups of coffee. The Woodstock guys could be heard playing Beatles songs down in the yard--no escape.
Leaving took forever and was a pain.
We stopped and ate in Via Grove. The food was fantastic and simple. The place all board floors and picnic tables.
I did a phone interview with the Stanford college paper. Lots of unanswerable questions about how we fit in the alternative scene, what we thing about alternative music, etc.
Drove north on 285 through sunny weather, partly cloudy bracketed by snow-peaked mountain ranges and very light green to brown valleys of scrub.
It was dark and cold when we entered disappointingly Cedar Rapids, IA-like Denver, CO to play at 7 South. A simple club with a drug-addict soundman but generally nice people.
Freezing temperatures with wet, foggy air. Once again, it seemed unlikely that we could do a show tonight.
We walked several blocks to a Mexican restaurant called Blue Bird Café. It was a popular place filled with drinkers and smokers. One table was home to a very busty, big-haired, tight-top-mondo-pushed-up-cleavage, tight-jeaned woman who was constantly surrounded by 40ish men. She was mid-thirties, bouncy, laughing. What was she after? She got drunk men with painful erections that could only result in vague depression--unless they actually got to sleep with her! Then what did anyone get? Maybe warmed up, which would be nice.
The urinal was full of strained vomit. We ate cheese-based dishes and suffered long after.
The Apples in Stereo were the opener--very good pop with killer guitar sometimes. Around fifty or seventy showed. I enjoyed playing (first show in 4 days!). But __ became upset and irrational when ___ (who was irrational as well) took exception to ___'s wish to insert "Tell Me" into the set to break up a long strip of quiet pieces. ___ was angry for approximately three hours.
Lots of people saying ridiculous things like "You're the best band of all time!" again. I can only grin stupidly.
We drove to the west side of the city and stayed at a huge American Inn--5 stories. The only parking spaces were in a weird "slum" portion of the lot--dark and populated with broken-down cars. Watched some TV, smoked on the 4th floor balcony feeling like I was going to suddenly fall over the railing if not careful.
I went to sleep in the van. It was cold and foggy. A miserable night. 2 hours after laying down I had to get up and walk--way underdressed and cold--four blocks to a convenience store to pee. It was 6am, people were going to work. The highway was jammed. I could not appreciate my "freedom" this morning.
Thurs Nov 10
Anne woke me at 11am. I was a wreck. I drove regardless of my condition. Went to a small diner in a small town. Marveled at how the butter containers bulged from the altitude.
Jay popped one and was taken aback when the waitress, an ignorant, selfish redneck cow, asked him what he planned to use it for.
I drove for about 6 hours west through the Rocky Mtns., lots of snow over six thousand feet. The day wore on, vaguely pleasant because the scenery. Glen Canyon, CO was magnificent. The weather was party cloudy, very mellow speeding at 80mph for hours.
We drove from 1:00PM 'til 2:00AM our time. The lights of Las Vegas shining against the clouds for an hour or more before they could be seen themselves.
Las Vegas again surprised me in its strangeness and bulge. Nearly all its boundaries can be seen as you enter from Hwy 15 North/South. The large hotels visible from many miles and the terrible black Luxor Pyramid with its light beam piercing the clouds, a large toy thing that takes your money, spits on your brain and waves hello/goodbye smiling all the while.
We drove around a while. Jay was excited to be there. Ended up staying in a motel and watching a perfect terrible detective/thriller action movie about a group of elite soldiers called Trancers. Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. Yeah!
Got 5 hours sleep in before 9:00AM when someone outside started his monster truck and revved it endlessly. Very tired.
Friday Nov. 11
Walked to a gas station/restaurant/casino for hot water--difficult to find the entrance because all windows were heavily tinted to mask the passage of time for losing gamblers.
We ended up eating there, unfortunately. I lost money in the slots, of course.
Hugh proclaimed his mastery over temptation as evidenced by his not gambling at all.
We drove toward San Diego expecting to have a couple hours delay at LA. We arrived early (2 hrs) at The Casbah, a smallish multi-roomed bar. Planes roared overhead just a few hundred feet on their landing path. The Amtrak train roared right past the club.
We drove the few blocks to the piers and walked around separately. Beautiful sunset.
After our soundcheck we went to a very hoity vegetarian restaurant in pretty high spirits.
I disliked San Diego's atmosphere--too wealthy and spoiled comfortable. Back at the Casbah we sat in the van right by the front door doing a set list. I farted loudly and at length. It reeked. Everyone got out with great haste.
A long night of waiting. The second band was the draw--Creedle--and by the end of their set I hated them.
We played to a steadily dwindling audience. I felt bizarre; playing well and decent sound but unable to generate any excitement from the audience.
I gave my all on "It Wasn't Me", looking people in the eye but feeling nothing but mundane listless detachment.
We retreated in horror to a motel out of town. I was beginning to feel very strange in general--a kind of squirming of identity and a pronounced unevenness of boundary.
Hugh nearly pushed me over the brink by repeating: "LET'S SHOVE HIM OUT THE DER!" as Anne pushed me mightily against the side door as we rocketed away from SD
Sat. Nov 12
We spent a very leisurely day getting to LA, stopping at the ocean in Carlsbad and in San Clemente for walks. Big-haired girls partying (healthily) in a hotel suite overlooking the Pacific. Cafes, smoothies, herbal tea, dudes, new cars, suntans, juice bars.
We went to Highland Park area north of downtown LA to play at a typical LA kind of show. The promoter is the club wherever he manages to hold the show, in this case it was a wonderful old mostly Hispanic bar in a defunct bowling alley.
The stage was built on top of the bowling lanes and a wooden framework held up a cloth wall around the stage. You could see through the cloth from the stage. The old lanes were ruined and all variety of junk and refuse was piled upon them.
The promoter, Jack Zinder, was also the DJ. He played wonderful easy-listening stuff all night. I went down the street looking for food. In a grocery store, a 40-ish Hispanic man cautioned me constantly about tipping over this or hitting my head on that. He said all food places were closed in this area and suggested I buy this bag of Apple Newtons.
Found a burrito place with a sidewalk window. Ordered food and waited almost 30 minutes for it. The street was lined with bent metal gates over all storefronts. There was only one pedestrian, a 35-or-so Hispanic man with a very worried look on his face. He walked up and down apparently in search of something or some kind of help.
Our show was to a large audience of people who I suspect just go to whatever show Jack is putting on. Some very beautiful woman and men. Three guys in dresses and makeup hung out in front of us. A great night.
After we did about two and a half sets, Jack started the dance music. I loved it. The dancers were all out of their minds. It filled me with glee.
We loaded through a throng of people standing outside, some running up to people and saying: "Boy George Michael Jackson!" and other such name trains in a desperate and conspiratorial tone. Mark couldn't be found for a half hour after we had realized that we wanted badly to go to sleep. We drove his brother Owen home via the incredible freeway maze system past downtown and on south to Little Tokyo. The drive from there was miserable, Jay driving for over an hour and a half to find a fucking motel outside Los Angeles. He inadvertently backed into a Best Western that claimed they were full. We ended up driving off Hwy 5 for 20 minutes on a two lane to the town of Fillmore on Hwy 126. Best Western: sleep like the dead.
Sunday Nov 13
Completed drive to San Francisco by 8:30pm. I have no reason to be thrilled and there are no strong feelings or emotions related to returning--all conditions terribly normal.
Tues. Nov 15
We drove to Santa Rosa with Fly Ashtray in tow. Chris, James, Glen, Doug, Sarri.
The Café, Café This, was small and high-ceilinged. 4 bands, $8, little possibility for an audience. The guy, Ron, who ran the place had a very interesting appearance, apparently much of one side of his visible body had been severely burned.
It was below freezing. A no smoking, no alcohol club. My body told me to lay down, get warm and sleep but there was no opportunity for any of this.
It was good to see Chas, Alex, Matt, Paul B, Andy J., Lexa. Our set felt pretty good and the place finally did fill up.
I slept deep and long once back at Margaret's.
Wednesday Nov 16.
I woke when Margaret went to work again.
I once again luxuriated with a breakfast at Kate's Kitchen then watched "Dune" while drinking coffee with cookies.
We spent nearly two hours collecting F.A. who were staying at Chas/Andy's and Gibbs with all his movie equipment, and Anne, Hugh, and Rick.
Drove to Chico to the Lava Lounge. Still very cold out. Cathy Kidd, John Frentress, Tim Smyth all showed up during sound check.
I felt viciously bad; my joints ached and I coughed constantly and with pain.
Trouble finding decent food at 9:30pm in Chico. Jay dropped comments about Chico's unworthiness. We somehow managed to play two full sets and show Gibb's film. I was physically destroyed by the end and it took hours to leave there.
Then to Tim's house where a party started around a case of Bud. Fortunately John took Gibbs, Jay, and I to his place.
I used the heating pad to loosen my congested lungs and generally to stay warm in John's heatless apartment.
Thurs Nov. 17
Warmer and sunny today. Again two hours to round people up, drop Sarri at the bus, pay Shirts Required, and leave town north on 99, a pretty stretch of road to I-5.
By the time we got into northern extremes of California our fears of bad weather, despite the "all clear" message on the CHP 800 line, were given a foundation. "Chains Required" signs began popping up.
Then, as dark fell and I was driving, snow began falling heavily. I was quickly getting mesmerized by the rushing vertical flakes. Soon a sign told us that I-5 North was closed after Yreka. We realized again the power of Weed, CA was inescapable. Shortly, we stood in the heated splendor of room 9, Sweaty Beaver south Motel (Hi Lo). The other van--thankfully with the ever-thinking Anne in it--pulled in there as well.
A man at the liquor store said his neighbor had been baby sitting a one-year-old that afternoon and somehow her charge managed to--I assume--crawl--from the house, into the street, and got run over. To death.
We spent the night drinking, smoking, and watching bad TV. Most of FA slept the whole time.
Friday Nov. 18
Had to rouse ourselves early for the remaining 10 or 11 hour drive to play in Seattle that night. Very cold with snow and ice on the ground.
The highway was covered with ice patches still. Most of the mountains were now covered. Some very beautiful scenes where streams ran through valleys of orange-leafed trees and over this loomed white mountains with rashes of evergreens. Lots of logging trucks and a few hawks. Endless drive. Tense night as hours drained past heading toward 9:00--still no Seattle.
We arrived and threw everything onstage. Anne & old van crew arrived visibly shaken by the rigors of loud rattling, no heat travel in the old van. FA's John had flown from New York to join them on the mini-tour. He apparently had come to Moe's before our arrival but then left again. He returned halfway through FA's set. James had been drinking vodka all day long after his stint behind the wheel. His alacrity drew finger blood that night. SCG had a ringer in the form of Evan Kang, a violinist of national avant garde status. Their set was comprised mostly of one improv piece with the violin featured. They had the audience. Our set was nothing. Exhaustion.
I bounced in a suspended chair in a blue room for a bit at the request of Keith Parry. It was nice. Anne, Rick, James, Doug, Jay, and I went to Steve Fisk's to spend the night. Steve was not there but had given us the keys. He had readied his bachelor pad for us by setting the television to a scrambled pornography station and his stereo played a loop of a man sobbing: "I wish I were dead ahhh!"
Chris seemed perpetually underdressed for the weather--usually opting for a shiny patterned smoking jacket and tshirt.
Sat. Nov. 19
Rainy day. Hours of waiting and coffee guzzling at the Cyclops with Steve Fisk pleasant.
I drove the Ford to Portland that night. It was the worst three hours I've ever driven. The left headlight I discovered was shining up at the underside of overpasses. It was opaquing the billowing mist clouds of semis. Visibility was terrible; gusts of wind and some deep currents of water on the highway, the roof leaking on us.
We arrived at Satyricon, our stuff was already on stage and the rain still fell. Nothing particularly remarkable about the evening for me other than I had a wonderful time, now physically recovering from the chest cold and mentally realizing this is the last road show of a 15,000 mile long tour!
We all went to Larry Crane's house for the night. Larry was asleep and it seemed there was no heat. The sleeping bag-less Fly Ashtray were scrambling. Hugh and Chris slept together under his folded out bag on the carpeted floor.
Much of FA were quite miserable about this situation.
4 hours after laying down, the alarms started going off for us to wake and get back on the road. Jay, I, Hugh, Chris, and Glen piled into the Ford. Its roof held nearly a gallon of water suspended in a thin layer over our bags and blankets.
I laid in the piles in the back staring mellowly at the clouds, trees, and buildings as we drove. Somewhat warmer and sunny.
I recalled dreams from the previous night in which I walked naked or nearly so in a downtown. I fell into a deep fountain pool of clear soothing water. I watched my keys, change, etc. go quickly to the bottom. I dove twice and collected them--only recalling momentarily not knowing how to swim. Also that night I dreamt Cathy Kidd and I made clandestine plans to consummate our romance?
I rather enjoyed driving and riding the 12 hour trip home. Despite the Weed, CA vortex forcing me to limp for a couple miles on the shoulder, the van suffering a clogged fuel filter or sucking gouts of water from its tank.
Pleasant conversations with Chris and Glenn who I feel very warm toward.
We beat the Dodge crew by 10 minutes to Anne's house.
9 of us piled into the Ford for the San Francisco dissemination trip. James wallowing hilariously in the chaos of his mind. One of them had accidentally loaded Larry Crane's travel bag!
I slept wonderfully and in great slow pools of warmth and negative pressure valleys, at ease.
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