1989 Southwest Tour Diary

Originally printed in Gym Teacher magazine.
Many thanks to Seymour Glass and company for commissioning, transcribing, and printing this diary. All five members of the band at the time (Anne, Brian, Hugh, Mark, and Paul) contributed to this diary. Below is a reprint of the Gym Teacher article.


sometimes we're just impossible

Prior to their first tour back in 1989, Seymour Glass of Bananafish commissioned a Thinking Fellers tour diary, planning, one supposes, to publish it in his then-fledgling magazine, even though he had assured the band that their words would be for his eyes only. When he offered to unearth the original document for Gym Teacher's perusal, we asked about the ethics of what he was doing. His only response was, "White man speak with forked tongue, Geronimo."
A few things should be kept in mind when reading this. At the time, Thinking Fellers were not a band to which others, Meringue, Irving Klaw Trio, even the Polar Goldie Cats, for example, are routinely compared; they were a faint blip on the indie radar screen, customarily pigeonholed somewhere between Sonic Youth and the Butthole Surfers. Their discography at the time of the diary, approximately two years prior to their first Matador record, included Wormed, By Leonard on cassette, the self-released Tangle LP, and a track or two on the seven-inch with Bananafish #4. Their current drummer, Jay Paget, was at the time in World of Pooh with Barbara Manning and Brandan Kearney.

November 3, 1989

paul bergmann
I'm done with work now. All I have to do is get ready to go on tour. Someone mentioned we're leaving tomorrow. Hey, why am I always the last to know these things? Better wash my underwear. It's dark outside. Guess I better dry them, too.

November 4

anne eickelberg
I'm exhausted emotionally (gee whiz). It took hours to get ready and load the van (I mean Doug). There's a map taped to the side of the wall showing where each piece of equipment goes, otherwise sheer chaos. Right now, being in a band is the farthest thing from my mind. I feel more like a tourist.
I am doomed to a weirdness which has already replayed itself. My cycle. Gold. Denial. Monitoring. These things take priority in my mind right now. Golden glow coming from... I know the meaning of bliss and I know the meaning of pain. Sounds horribly tragic and pretentious, don't it. Well, fuck you.
We're on our way to Hayward now.

brian hageman
Hwy 5 to LA
The lighty lit sky
Twinkles above and
We stink,
Below

paul bergmann
All the way down, the air has an overly hazy quality that might be like how it looks when you've got glaucoma. The San Fernando Valley air is incredibly brown. This place is sick-looking. In L.A., more brown air, but add fluorescent pink back-lighting.
The Fellers avail themselves of Mark's brother's hospitality. We buy beer and sit in the van. Is this success or what? Sitting in L.A. in a van at midnight, drinking beer and eating tater skins. With dip.
I go for a walk, or maybe a drunken saunter. Leave a calling card on the door of MGM studios in Culver City. No, I didn't urinate or defecate. I left a big slab of eucalyptus bark leaning on the door. Time to go back to the van, my resting place for the night, but I can't find Empire Street and wander for an hour or more, finally surrounding the target and closing in. The neighborhood's black cat is still patrolling, checking out Doug as a regular part of his rounds. I get my gear out of the back, but have trouble navigating to the front of Doug over the high ivy in the planter. Oops, was that the keys I just dropped into the ivy? As I'm digging through the bushes, I can sense the silent smirking of the neighborhood cat.

November 5

mark davies
Near Palm Springs
"I don't care if you're a god-damned Christian. Got any fucking candy bars?"
"We don't want your business, sir."
"I haven't starting giving you my business. I'm standing here at this god-damn phone and the sunuvabitch don't work. And I can't get my piss-damn leg braces off."
"The Lord helps those who help themselves."
"I'll help myself to one of these little fuck-knobs. Gimme one of those Chocodiles."

anne eickelberg
We're in the Yucca City K-Mart parking lot, listening to Einsturzende, waiting for Mark to purchase candles so we can burn the stupid-looking Joshua trees with our initials TFUL 282. I'm the driver.

We're at Operation Desert Campsite, but we're in Doug. We still haven't played yet, but I feel like I'm in a rock 'n' roll band (you fuck knob, here read this) like drinking Jack Daniels. "Like sphincters on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice, gee it's good to be in Doug again." (sung to that John Denver song). It took us an hour-plus to put up the Manning tent. The directions were crispy with jizz and UFOs kept hovering benignly above with pictures of Terry Bransted (the governor of Iowa) blinking off and on, on the UFO's hubcaps. Singing songs of old with Helios Creed's voice. Right now, there are several pink wolverines marching around the perimeter of Campsite Doug. Their babies are wearing panties embossed with scriptures. Only three more years of the rock 'n' roll format and then I can become full of grace. Until then, however, I'll be golfing with tweed-covered moles who all smell like porta-potties and stopping at every 7-11 on Highway 10 looking for orange cheese. The only thing we all have in common is that we're drunk and it's only 8:32 pm. Doug out. (Where's my gold thing?).

brian hageman
Suppers on the Phone

You say that I'm a dumbass
That may be right
But even if I'm a dumbass
My sleeves are tight
And supper's on the phone

Unidentified flaming orbisons
Have pierced my lawn again
Their black pants and shoes
Hint of white shin
Broken guitar strings
Always special and dangling

You say you are my partner
On that you're wrong
You say we'll be together
All along
You say I'm a sneaky sniffer
Your breasts are long
I burned down my high school
That dirty mud mud-butt's flying my plane

Snuckered on turd lozenge
Moving deep into pork housinge
My beets are bluish-red
Like the flaky crust of Homer
On the God of
Doc Severinson's our shepherd
And mealworms drive the bus
The formula for joy is Ed McMahon

Dr. Titty has a nutcup
The size of Belgium and more
My casket's straining under the
Load of this earth

Dinner's like a dumptruck
Turd lozenge and a half
This smelly rag has got
A painful rash

November 6

hugh swarts
So far, so good, I guess. I'm sitting on a rock in Joshua Tree National Monument at a campground called Jumbo Rocks (and they are, too). The desert here doesn't look real. It looks like a diorama. Most of the rocks look like they're made of papier mache without too much attention paid to detail. The way the wind has carved them makes them look like those really lame, hollow rocks in Hollywood movies that can be picked up and heaved.
The desert is the most interesting thing we've seen so far. Highway 5 was pretty nondescript. Horribly enough, it reminded me strongly of Nebraska before spring has returned color to the landscape. Everything had a muted, anemic look, as if all but the most boring tans and grays had been bleached out of it. Saw a cowboy out on his horse herding horses about a half-mile from a rest stop. Wonder if it doesn't get kinda lonesome out there so far from all those cars hurtling past. Does time stand still for him out there all alone?
The best thing about L.A. was the hotdog I had out on Santa Monica pier. I really don't like hotdogs much, but it seemed the necessary thing to have under the circumstances (those circumstances being: I was hungry and I was in L.A.). There was a lot of haze in air, but it was hard to tell how much of it was smog. It didn't look brown enough to fit in with my conception of what real smog looks like. So anyway, what we saw of L.A. was pretty damn depressing. Even the Pacific Ocean didn't look like it really wanted to be there. It just comes there out of habit.
I didn't get any sense of how big L.A. is, which is probably a good thing.
I haven't read anything anybody else has written, but I'll bet it's all a bunch of Grade-A diarrhea. But enough about their achievements...
I just found out from a pamphlet on indigenous poisonous species that the worst of the lot-the black widow-likes to hang out in outdoor privies. I'm glad I didn't know that last night when I had to sit down in the dark in one of those things with my glory dangling there totally exposed and unprotected. I was kind of paranoid anyway and didn't need to have my worst fears confirmed. I can think of almost no worse nightmare in the world than being bitten on the nethers by a goddamn black widow spider. Somebody really should do something about them. Their niche in the ecological bohungus can't be that important. Or so one would think...
Brian flipped me off about five minutes ago, but I'm a big enough man to ignore his petty jealousy. I understand the frustration and bitterness people experience when they finally really realize there's no way they'll ever be me. I'm glad that's a burden I will never have to bear. When some mongoloid isn't out road-testing his RV, it's really quiet here.

anne eickelberg
Hard to believe we haven't played yet. Feels like we've been gone for at least a week. I can't wait until our first show tomorrow in Tempe. We're still ensconced in our campsite. Took a few hikes in the desert today, slept through the hot part of the day (you know, like the natives). All our friends had to work today. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I really feel for them all. Soon we will be cackling away, keeping our fellow campers wondering what's going on. Doug looks so good in candlelight. Still thinking about all that stuff that is my business and no one else's. Shut up. Snake.

mark davies
Joshua Tree
Too bad about Paul. I guess he must have been a little too soused. For whatever reason, he just wasn't paying attention. Trampled beyond recognition by a herd of nomadic stampeding Ed McMahons. I guess there was nothing he could do, considering the blinding speed at which they were traveling. Still, you'd think he would have heard them coming. I mean, imagine four dozen deep voices all bellowing Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho and eight dozen dress shoes pounding against the desert floor. Maybe all that rock 'n' roll finally got to his ears and he just didn't hear it. Oh well, at least we have a gimmick now. The first band with a flat drummer. If we turn him sideways on stage, all the audience will see are the sticks hitting the drums.

November 7

brian hageman
We just visited the Gen. Patton Museum in Chirinco Summit, CA , (elev. 1,000 ft.) at about 10:00 AM. Lots of wooden Patton figures in different scenes showing just why he's so special. There's a "Patton on the Moon" diorama in which he's pointing a flashlight at the earth while his dune buggy sits, loaded with beer and dirty magazines, waiting for him to get in (he's naked from the waist down).
Then there's the "Patton in the Stratosphere" diorama which has a wooden Patton strung up above a tiny landscape. The cotton wisps indicating direction of travel show that he's flying upside-down and backwards. He's painted blue and has a Nightranger Live! t-shirt on.
There's also the "Gen. Patton the Renowned Clergyman" diorama in which the wooden Patton is wedged into conical steel things with a large (two-foot diameter) drill bit boring into his bottom. He appears to be wearing sackcloth and is anatomically incorrect.
Then there's the "Gen. Patton as an Abstract Concept" exhibit which consists simply of a pile of gravel with a full-size Camaro nosed into it up to the windshield. Hawaiian music plays dreamily in the background as a helium-filled Patton torso balloon with electric propellers whirs headfirst around the room just to assist visitors in remaining focused on the central theme. Of all the "Patton as a Teenage Hippie Arsonist" displays, my favorite, I think, is the one which has a wooden Patton figure crouched on all fours, his back fitted with a vertical triangle display of Cheerios. Patton is depicted here as being ample-breasted and furry. Around him, on metal tracks, two wooden dogs push grocery carts, each with wooden Albert Einstein figures which have working jaws. To the rhythm of these working jaws, a squeaky voice, I guess it's supposed to be Einstein's, repeats, "God! I wish I hadn't eaten that baby, my ass is just on fire!" All of this is taking place in a simulated blizzard. Stocking hats are free with $5.00 deposit.
This morning I got up early and took a short hike from our campsite in Joshua Tree National Monument Park. I had just made it to a high, high rock and sat down to overlook the valley when I heard some dirty bastard start wheezing New Age slop out of some goddamn smooth woodwind fucker thing. Then somebody started cranking on their diesel car. Then someone else starting battling the New Age dick with a radio playing insipid pop drivel at high volume.
What a shame. The morning before, I'd gone on a hike before sunrise and found myself in an area made up entirely of bare rock. It was so quiet then. I could hear my heart beating and a crow's wings made this wonderful dark whopping noise as he flew by. I felt great then. This morning, though, I felt kind of ashamed at how clumsy everyone seems to be.

paul bergmann
Tuesday morning at Joshua Tree, I was sitting in the auxiliary camp when I was approached by a rabbit. He was somewhat shy at first, but soon indicated he'd like a cigarette. I said I didn't have any and he said, "How 'bout some food, then?" I went back to Doug and got a carrot, but he was gone when I got back. I sat down and started to eat, when he reappeared and sat down without a word. I offered him some carrot. "Thanks," he offered, but nothing more. When I was done, I excused myself and went back to the van and rejoined the others. We were beginning to pack up when the rabbit sidled up to the side of the van. "What about dessert?" We glanced at each other and went on packing. The rabbit roamed the periphery of the camp, muttering under his breath. We couldn't quite make out his words, but the cadence of his chant was chilling in itself. Without warning or reason, members of the band began making pointed defamatory remarks about rabbits in general and this one in particular. I tossed some chocolate-covered espresso beans to him and the offering stopped his muttering. But even after he started racing up and down the road going, "Brrrm, brrrrm, brrmmmm!" imagining himself a race car, and finally disappearing, the strikingly critical rabbit comments continued to spit caustically from the mouths of many Thinking Fellers. What was this rabbo-paranoiac vehemence? Where did it come from? Whose hoofy hand could be involved here? Dare I even think of the Sun Devil himself, Satan? I could feel the wedge that the rabbit had placed, pointed squarely at the heart of the band. I could feel it as clearly as the gas that tore at my insides, hear it as clearly as Hugh's gaseous eruptions that shredded through the high desert calm, smell it as clearly as Doug's sulfuric-acid-spewing, over-charged battery. The wedge was in place, and surely it would rip us apart. I knew it.

November 8

brian hageman
10:00 AM, en route from Phoenix to Austin
Something strange and horrible is being slowly uncovered here on this tour. A pall of hopelessness and shocked disillusionment has overtaken us.
It began yesterday morning in Joshua Tree Park when Paul was approached by a small rabbit. The rabbit entertained Paul by chasing after the rocks that Paul tossed near him. Soon, the rabbit was hopping all around our campsite and each of us commented on how forward the little thing was around us.
I guess we were blinded at first by the imprinted stereotype of the cute, innocent little rabbit hopping around, nibbling on carrots; however, after a half hour or so, we all started to notice something nasty about the little fucker. The way he hopped, the way he stopped hopping, the way his ears rotated like radar disks, the way his eyes burned with the fires of all god-damn hell, made us begin to loathe the dirty prick of a stinking god-damn roach of a little bastard of a rabbit. We all hated him.
Many things began to change after our meeting with the rabbit. We grew very intolerant of each other's idiosyncrasies and we spent our driving time brooding and thinking about the rabbit without speaking to one another or understanding the reason for the formless horror that was growing inside us. The depression and fear remained unconnected from our hatred for the rabbit until the rabbit's direct attempt at murderous sabotage was discovered.
Upon leaving our campsite for Phoenix, we noticed a strong odor filling the van. At first it smelled like natural gas but as it became stronger, we were less and less able to liken it to anything we'd encountered before. As the hours passed, the odor intensified and we began to seriously worry about our safety, but were unable to stop for very extensive research into the odor's source because we were passing through long stretches of desert.
When we got to Phoenix, we went to a friend's house and lifted the van's hood. We found the battery bulging at the sides and sulfuric acid bubbling out of the caps which had been pushed up by the pressure. We'd been breathing sulfuric acid fumes for five hours. We knew in our hearts that the rabbit had done this to us and as we stood wondering what the effects of the acid would be, I began to feel certain that the rabbit was already in Phoenix, preparing for us.
It would be good to mention at this time that we also noticed the presence of: The Minister of Turd Lozenge, the Minister of Pork Housinge, several titular Beefs of Pork Housinge, and "the Frog" (the elusive source of fog and confusion in Contra Costa County. He may be seen cruising in the hills at night all packed into a Bronco, croaking menacingly). This, at first, was quite a thrill. These distinguished officials had filled my dreams for years. I dreamt of their clear eyes reflecting important documents and of "the Frog" backing up to Contra Costan homes to pump them full of his pasty white feces. These were my heroes and I was happy to carry out any order they chose to give me. I was never disillusioned by the total lack of evidence of their existence.
Now, however, as I write this under the shadow of a huge military helicopter which has been following us for hours, I feel as if my spirit is draining away and I'm experiencing an emptiness far beyond any I've felt before. The feeling of futility and soulless emptiness feeds on itself and blots out my ability to taste, smell, see or hear with anything other than a mechanical dismissal, like a conveyor belt.
All of this has come to pass as a result of meeting the rabbit and the subsequent realization that my heroes, the Minister of Turd Lozenge, the Minister of Pork Housinge, all the titular Beefs of Pork Housinge and "the Frog," are actually various guises of the baleful, spiteful, hateful, loathsome, conniving rabbit. He has removed from me my capacity for anything but hatred.

hugh swarts
After logging my last entry a couple days ago at Joshua Tree National Monument, I hiked up to a ridge not far from our campsite. When I got to the top, there were three marines with a case of Coors talking about drugs and pussy. I had a Coors with them and surveyed the valley below. They talked non-stop about nothing in particular and I nursed my Coors (actually, it was Coors Light and wasn't as bad out there in the desert as it seems to be in civilization).
This all happened before I was even aware of that goddamn rabbit. I found out about that dirty little fucker the following morning-but I'm getting ahead of my story.
While I was talking to the marines, we kept hearing loud rumbling noises coming from the direction of the big marine base nearby. Turns out there's a bomb and missile testing range about 10 miles from where we were and those were explosions. Pretty neat, huh?
While we were talking about pussy one of the marines asked me if I'd ever tried any of that stay-hard cream. I confessed that I hadn't. He said it was a good thing because when he used it he had a monster boner for about 12 hours and it felt like the skin on his dick was going to rip. Then he talked about putting some kind of mentholated deep-heating rub on his unit and belaboring some poor girl with his salved business. He said it would be ice cold one second and then burning hot. Go figure.
There's a whole fuckload of desert down here. Hours and hours and hours upon hours of it at 65 mph. I can't imagine crossing this on horseback or covered wagon. Those pioneers must've had some kind of major anti-civilization bug up their collective bohungi to go to all the trouble and discomfort to come here (that wagon-train slowness must have been imprinted on their genetic material and passed on to their descendents, judging from how long it just took me to get a burger and some fries at this little-ugly, little-burger shack just short of Tucson). The desert here in Arizona looks a lot different from the high desert around Joshua Tree. More dense vegetation and the plants are greener. It's far more lush than I had imagined (I know, so what).
Last night's show at The Sun Club in Tempe was a lot of fun. The Voice was pretty boring, unimaginative fare. They were really nice guys, but their music lacked. Imagining Yellow Suns were great (and they're from Orange County, go figure).
I don't feel like talking about that goddamn rabbit. The less chance he has of finding out what's on my mind, the less chance he'll have to avoid the surprises I'm cooking up that should rid the planet of his malign presence. He's a wily little bastard, I'll give him that. Let's see how wily he is when the jaws of death clamp firmly onto his scabrous hide. No sooner did I write that than we see the little fucker shadowing us in a helicopter. I knew it was a mistake invoking his sinister image.
We just decided that the rabbit (that dirty fuckhole) isn't actually the Beef of Porkhousinge. We're convinced he's masquerading as the Beef of Porkhousinge and is holding the real one captive somewhere. He will pay. Changeling though he is, there is no form he can appropriate that I will not see through. His accounts are seriously in arrears and he'll receive the curb-stomping due him. His punishment will make Triceradog's seem like a girl scout puberty rite by comparison.

paul bergmann
The Sun Club is/was a small-but-nice bar down a dark street off the ASU campus. It's hardly lit outside, no bar name in sight. The kind of place you have to know where it is. The place and people were nice enough, but they didn't charge cover, so it was almost like an open-mike night with a local band (the Voice) and two traveling bands (us and Imagine Yellow Suns from Orange County). Also, we couldn't drink beer on stage, which was all-the-way unpopular with the bands. I guess our set went pretty well. I felt rusty and was playing some flat, stupid drum fills. I also fucked up a couple of changes that I really shouldn't have. I gotta count those damn things so I don't get fooled into thinking the change is happening. On the up side, some songs felt like they went real well ("Keeps Repeating") and I thought I did my vocals for "What Time Is It?" well, which was good since the vocals were probably audible, if not completely clearly mixed. I'm optimistic about playing better every time out. Brian and I were talking about how great it is to "play possessed," something the Meat Puppets aimed to do. I may not make it to "possessed," but I think I'll make "loose and wild." The Yellow Suns played a very impressive set. Wild and controlled with elements of psychedelia, funk, noise and pop. Good vocals and harmonies, too. They seem like nice guys and we may cross paths with them in Houston.

hugh swarts
So this is New Mexico, huh? I was expecting some excitement, but so far I haven't seen any car chases, explosions, or girls with their tits hanging out. Nothing here but desert and mountains and the road that stretches before us. Ho-hum.
The most exciting thing we've seen so far is a Road-Kill Elvis Impersonator disguised as a goat (I suspect it may have been the rabbit keeping tabs on us again).
We're in Deming now. Deming, NM. You know. Maybe you don't.
Anne just bought some ordnance. Now maybe we'll see some action. Unfortunately, Anne (being a girl), neglected to get anything that explodes. The stuff she got just shoots sparks, apparently. Why bother?
Speaking of the genetically reinforced slowness of the denizens of these here parts (as I was in my last passage):
We stopped a while back to gas up Doug and I put 50 in a machine for a candy bar. Nothing happened. Change return didn't work either. I went up to the old guy working the cash cubicle and related my tale of woe. He geezered over to the machine to check it out:

Him: "The light's on."
Me: "Yeah."
I check the coin return slot. Nothing.
Him: "The light's on."
He checks the coin return slot.
Him: "What didya want?"
I point to item number two. He pushes the button. Nothing.
Him: "The light's on. That means you put 50 in."
Me: "Yeah. I put 50 in."
He pushes number eight and a bag of cheese sphincters falls into the retrieval area.
Him: "Well, it's working."
Me: "Yeah, it's working."
He fishes in his pocket and pulls out 50 and puts it in the machine. The light comes on.
Him: "The light's on."
He pushes the button for item number two. Nothing. He pushes the button for item number 12 and a bag of sugar-coated gummy turds falls into the retrieval area.
Him: "Number two don't work. This goddamn machine is contrarier than my horse."
He retrieves the bags of cheese sphincters and sugar-coated gummy turds.
Him: "I don't suppose you want either of these?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Now I gotta bunch of candy I don't want. I'll get you 50."
He geezers over to the cash cubicle. I stand there for a second and decide it's not worth it because I'm holding everybody up. I walk to Doug and we exit.
We'll be in Texas in about an hour and a half or so. We've made really lousy time today and haven't seen a single UFO (Uninvited Flaming Orbison) so far this entire trip. And Doug's doing something weird with his differential (we think). It's already dusk and we have 300 miles left to go. Say a prayer for Doug.
We're in Las Cruces now to have Doug looked at. Right next to this Chevron station is world-famous Dick's Restaurant. It reeks of sewer gas 'round here. And Boz Scaggs just came on the radio.
Guy says nothing's wrong.

November 9
actually november 10 @ 3:00 am

anne eickelberg
Okay, we almost didn't get to play tonight. On a good bill with three other bands but everyone fucked around for hours. We were in this theater-turned-club for hours while people dicked around. Goddamn Ed Hall, those fart noise rock stars. I loved 'em but those fuckers-it was all their fault (an over-an-hour-long set). We learned instant bonding. We belong here. We made fart noises and shouted gobbledegook noises at each other (us and Ed Hall and others). We felt at home. We felt outraged. We felt depressed. We felt nasty and victorious all in one evening. We really didn't think we'd get to play. The Seemen were still going on at 1:30. Hugh stormed out. I felt impotent and crushed (kind of), then suddenly we were throwing our equipment into the place. Larry from Ed Hall was presenting me with his amp (mine mysteriously quit working only for this show). We tore into "Sportscar." Paul's monitor wasn't on so from his rock star riser he couldn't hear anything. We mangled-burned-destroyed it for about 45 seconds and stopped, screaming for monitors and being whooped for by the stunned remaining audience.
We got their damn attention. I was fucking everything with a vengeance-everyone was. We were tough-I was amazed. I even said to the audience, "We usually aren't this mean but we've had to wait so long and you know what it's like when you want to fuck and you can't, you get nasty." Jesus. It was so GODDAMN much fun. We were loud, distorted, overly bottom-ending out and slightly out of tune. HOLY MARY it makes me really hot to remember this. Yeee-fucking-HA. I am ready to leave Oakland. I am coming to Austin.
Oh, yeah, and CRUST, the band who opened. God. GODHEAD TOTAL GODEXPLOSION SEXGODSEX.
They were speaking my language. Tapes, feedback, HUGE metal bonking, a stand-up genius master drummer, a screaming scary singer/sampler/manipulator. They cleanse my soul. BLAM BLAM BLAM...BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM
The genius drummer (who is Biff from the Seemen's roommate) fixed my amp just by touching it. I'm in love. I'm in love with the way everyone at the club and at Biff's house looks and acts and speaks. I'm in love with all the noise machines, the found art, the toys, the sky. I'm in love with the shitty little houses in shitty overgrown yards with the huge jets flying over. Yes. Sorry, Chico. But things change, you know, we'll still be friends, though. Honest.

Later (nearer to Houston)
We're cruising through the muting late afternooned landscape here. I'm listening to Blackhouse-he or they really crack me up. "Hope, like a candle, cancels the darkness." He likes that old "make the microphone squeal all warbly like chirpy by swinging it in front of the amp thing, I mean shitter." It's great road music.

November 12

hugh swarts
Dateline: Galveston, TX
It's starting to seem like we were all born in this fucking state and have never left-not even for an hour. I've been tired since we got here 28 years ago.

Austin
One fuck of a long way from El Paso and don't ever think otherwise because you'd be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The distance should be measured in light years. The drive from El Paso to Austin was longer than my life. Continents rose and fell and countless civilizations came and went while we were doing that drive. The universe collapsed on itself and was reborn... After working myself up into a near-homicidal frenzy, I had a great set. We started with a version of "Sportscar" that kicked God's ass. It ruled the earth for millions of years and exterminated the dinosaurs. It knocked up the Virgin Mary, then sterilized the entire audience. Amen!

brian hageman
We switched to Sopwith Camels today. We're flying over Texas at about 80 mph, approximately 40 feet off the ground. Each of our five planes is loaded with our equipment. Anne's plane, for instance, has her big-ass bass amp strapped to one end of the top wing. She's been flying on her side since 10:00 am.
We've all been hallucinating non-stop since yesterday morning...no, I guess it's been since this morning. This morning I woke up on the roof of the van which was parked on Galveston Beach and right over my face was a huge crab claw squeezing a wad of toilet paper so that drops of clear liquid dripped into my mouth. I swallowed and the claw slowly disappeared over the Side of Doug. I went to the Edge of the Roof of Doug and saw a monstrous chicken in the form of a crab (except it had a steam engine and some human feet like some chickens do). The chicken paid no attention to me.
I watched it pee on the toilet paper wad then it pushed its claw into the Window of Doug where Hugh and Anne were sleeping, apparently to administer its gifts to them. After this, it emitted a blast of steam and chicken feathers and began pushing its way over to where Pulardo and Jarvis were sleeping on the beach. The chicken backed up to each one and peed directly into their mouths. With this, the chicken barked twice loudly and rocketed straight up into the sky. Darndest thing!
Since then, we've all been a little strange and, as I said, we've been hallucinating non-stop. Anyway, we've just entered a town called Flatonia, TX. It's hot and it's flat.
We cleared the room of everyone but the sound man at the Axiom in Houston last night. Paul left the stage twice, three songs died in progress, and Anne, who'd thought she'd developed a rapport with the audience by comparing armpit hair tufts with them, found herself lambasting the empty room for not being open-minded enough to like us. Most of us didn't like us.
All the people working at the Axiom were smashed on their asses, not inhospitable in their stupor, but inscrutable. They seemed pretty darn tired except for Joe, the soundman, who kissed Anne on the cheek twice, and who came up, hunched over and grinning madly, after our set and said, "Welcome to TEXAS!" then cackled insanely for two minutes, and whose big dog was sitting outside in a pickup panting happily with three full inches of wet pink penis showing. No one would let us stay at their house or even let us camp in their yard.
An Austin macho rock band played after us. I really hated their music, it made me feel like dying sometimes. They seemed to enjoy themselves, though, and they did their thing. For us that had been impossible; sometimes we're just impossible.

paul bergmann
According to current parlance, I'm doing the dining dilrod, which I won't bother explaining any more than to say I'm eating a bagel. Sitting in a booth in Taco Land, San Antonio. There's a couple of local babes in the next booth, but I can't waiver from my diary duties. I've been so damn tired the last couple of days that writing was not thinkable. Thinking wasn't thinkable. But great moments from Austin, Act I, need to be recorded. I really believe we notched our little niche in Austin rock history, even though few were there to witness it. As others may have mentioned on these pages, we didn't even think we were going to play, being the last band on a bill of four that started late and was thrown further out of kilter by the extended set done by the bad boys, Ed Hall. Anyway, Seemen cut their set short and we got a 20-minute slot before closing time, and it was shredder-do. Aside from music shit, the best thing was Anne apologizing for the band being "meaner than usual, but we didn't think we were going to play and it's like when you really want to fuck and you can't for some reason, you have to wait, you get frustrated" or something to that effect. After the set, Anne killed the rabbit, another milestone. I saw him laying dead on the stage at the Ritz in Austin, so it's official. The other memory bump I want to unload here is the final conversation of the night at Biff's place. Brian, Hugh and Mark were sacking out on the floor in the front room and Biff had put on a goodnight tape and headed for bed. I was in the bathroom brushing, flossing and listening to Mark and Hugh talking about how I was "doing a toothbrushing dilrod" and then moving on to debate the proper usage of "dilrod" and whether it is a noun, adjective or otherwise. By the time I came out, the topic was still under discussion and, amazingly enough, was still twistedly funny. Brian apparently had dozed off and I kept on getting ready for bed and the conversation moved on to "Paul is doing the preparation dilrod" and "Paul is the preparation dilrod" and other variations and debate. The point of all this is that I glanced at Brian in his sleeping bag and he appeared to be grinning in his sleep at the conversation and I thought, "Oh no, it's going in subliminally now, it's all over for Brian, he'll be twisted by subconscious dilrod poisoning." Fortunately, I found out later from Brian that he'd fight for all he was worth to not fall asleep until a conversation like that was over and he was really awake, just too tired to open his eyes.
I'm sure someone has written in here that Houston/the Axiom sucked big time. Definitely our worse show ever. Worse than our shows at Berkeley Square, both of which I truly hated. The only redemptions to the Axiom gig were:
1. We got our $100 guarantee
2. I was pissed off enough to:
a. smash the shit out of my cymbals during a song, out of time, effectively enough to end the song and shred some knuckles.
b. throw my drumsticks and walk off stage
So what caused this tantrum besides lack of sleep? For (a) it was the lack of visual signal for the last change on "What Time Is It?" I hate setting a song up to change on a visual and then not getting the damn signal and having half the band change and half not. In fact, I was watching Brian constantly for the signal and he fooled me early with a false signal that got me to change but no one else, and then right after the band changed without having any more of a signal than the previous time. Reason (b) was lack of a monitor and shitty mike stands on the drumkit that wouldn't stay in position. I had a monitor speaker sitting right by me that they couldn't get to work and, after fucking up several things because I couldn't hear shit, I figured "fuck" and walked. Then I walked back to the sound booth and diplomatically said "fuck" and returned to the stage to fuck up several more songs. Fuck.
So here we are, sittin' and drinkin' at Taco Land. It's 8:30 and Milton, the booking guy, hasn't shown up. There's no PA and no sign of action. Fortunately, this is a way cool bar owned by this Chicano gent, Ray, who is not averse to giving us free beer. Great patio with a big oak over it, friendly people and a good jukebox.
Anne has just gotten hold of Milton ("the flake") and he claims he told [the tour-booker] there's no PA, which sounds like bull. He also claims he'll be here in a few minutes. We'll see. What next?

anne eickelberg
This place is cool, funky, drunken and promising. So Milton is a scum man. This could be (could've been) a fun show with proper advertising and shit. There are no flyers for the show in here. Every other damn band has played here-House of Large Sizes, Dead Milkmen, Blast, you know, all the expected touring bands. The flyers and peripherals from past shows cover, plaster, the low ceiling in here. You goddamn flake in an infinite, receding line of flakes, Milton.

November 13

anne eickelberg
Austin, day off
Naturally, after awhile we became bored with accounting for every trivial occurrence. We stayed up till 6:00 this morning. I bedded down on the ratty couch outside, just in time to experience the taking off of jets from the nearby airport. GOD I love that. The sound of those monsters heaving over the house maybe 20 feet over your head. And their various-colored underbellies. During the wee hours of smashed babble, the television was going. Finally we realized that the only way to reach the masses and stop selfishly pandering to other art-students/musicians and "enlightened" people is to start buying late night 30-second commercial spots. And take music, shows and shit to the FACTORIES, the FARMS, the TAVERNS, the VILLAGES.
Yeah, right. I've thought all this before, but hearing Biff elaborate on it hit hard. Opened a door. Well, now that first screen door is open but several steel-reinforced cement walls 30 miles thick lay beyond. What does one do?
I guess Market Street is a place to start. No, actually, Pinole, Pittsburg (California), Contra Costa County, Burlingame, mall parking lots. East Oakland. It's all there. It just takes the guts, the initiative to lug some shit there and do it. All art movements aspire to this. Jesus Christ aspired to this.
I can't conceive of going back to my job and being able to function as I did before. How can I, when I've regressed to third grade shit humor and every sentence of mine is peppered with three goddamns and a couple of fuckins? I'm biting my tongue to stop those y'alls from bubbling forth. You all, y'all, yu'all, you'all, just falls forth so friendly-like.
Texas is even better than I'd hoped. People, strangers, clerks, pedestrians, neighbors we've encountered are nicer than the supposed California friendliness. Of course, we've not encountered the small towns much. In fact, we were warned to blow through the little burgs and not stop.
By the way, I'm still in love with Crust. You should've heard their version of "Feelings." I went to heaven and it was pulsating, red-veined stomach lining.
I'm going to sleep every night wrapped in the biggest goddamn Texas flag ever made.

brian hageman
Last night we went to San Antonio to play at Taco Land. The people who run the place and their friends were sitting on the patio yelling at an old drunk who was calling the owner to suck on the moon. Like the soundman in Houston, some of Taco Land's seasoned drinkers had that stereotypical perverse Mexican grease laugh HAW that seems to signal the end of the world. Heavy-set drinking 48-year-olds bobbed their heads to the jukebox for two hours as we waited for the soundman to show up. He never did. We left at 9:45 pm. Impotence.

November 14

brian hageman
We played at Mexic-arte in Austin last night. Talked to King Coffee for a while about their show in Tijuana. The Titular Beef of Pork Lozenge arrived and seemed very irate about something. His face puffed up until it looked like giant piece of popcorn and the way in which his head distorted forced his facial features up to the top of his head so that he had to hunch over to yell at us.

anne eickelberg
Hugh just saw the ghost of Lyndon Johnson driving a pick-up truck on Highway 183 just outside of Zephyr, TX!

hugh swarts
It's true. I looked over and there he was: LBJ, Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the U.S. of A., driving one of those little mini-pickup truck dilrods on the shoulder of the road. I know it was him 'cause he showed me his scar and winked. After I passed him, I looked in the rearview mirror and he was gone. No sign of him or his little mini-pickup truck dilrod anywhere. We're outside Abilene now, on our way to Lubbock. This will be this tour's final show in Texas. Then it's "Adios, amigos!" and on to Oklahoma.
Some parts of the state are okay. Austin's great. San Antonio seems great, too. Too bad we didn't get to tour the Alamo, though. One weird thing about The Alamo is that it's in the middle of San Antonio, surrounded by a bunch of nice hotels and such. It's kind of difficult to imagine a climactic battle ever having taken place there. It would have been easier for the Mexicans if it had been the way it is now. They could have snuck into the hotels and sniped at The Alamo defenders from the windows. They could have waited until the place was loaded with tourists, then laid down a nice artillery barrage. Oh, if only history conformed to our fantasies.
We just passed a sign that said "First Baptist Church." When I first glanced at it I misread it as "First Rapist Church." I'll remember that next time I have some spray paint and free time. Just think, the church next to our house could be re-christened The Rose of Sharon Missionary Rapist Church. Sorta has a ring...
I could never move to Tex-ass, by the way. I'd be saying "y'all" and speaking in a drawl in no time. It would totally wipe out my self-image. I don't care if other people drawl "y'all" through life, I just don't want to be one of them.
As for world news... Good for the E. Germans, showing those dirty, commie bastards they're tired of Lenin's nose poking around their asses, looking for state secrets... (I would make one hell of a Texan, after all.)
I'll say one thing 'bout Austin: It has lots of pretty women. Goddamn! If only I could whistle "Porgy and Bess" through my peehole...
115 miles to Lubbock, but Doug's changing that even as we speak. I want a big piece of meat. This is an insanely large state. And what's all this goddamn brown shit stretching out to the horizon? It's all furrowed like they're gonna plant it, but it's all brown. Just passed big wagons full of cotton. Fucking cotton. White fucking puffy fucking fucking cotton Fuck. Fuck, fuck! Fluffy, puffy, fucky cotton puke fuck.

The Yellow Rose of Tex-ass
Is really brown-n-pink
It don't smell like other roses
Cuz it's puke and fucking shit
That smelly little bastard
Will crawl inside your mouth

November 15

brian hageman
Full scale dilrod at Gestures Cafe in Lubbock, TX last night. Woke up in the van hearing loud crunching pounding noises. Looked out and saw Soupy Sales driving a big hot dog-shaped truck dilrod over a row of parked cards and into the side of an apartment building. He had a monstrous foam rubber cowboy hat on that had "I'm Special" spelled out in wieners on the side. Earlier in the day, Doug treated us to another blast of sulfuric acid farts, but we were unable to determine the source. That smell makes me instantly tense. The idea of a multi-faceted breakdown in rural Texas really puts an Egg McMahon in my serenity dilrod.
Last night when we arrived in Lubbock, the cafe owner seemed thrilled to see us. The first thing after "hello" was, "So, y'all are in Spin magazine, huh?" Oh, my fucking lozenges. Good Christ. We sorta laughed it off and he of course didn't know that the Spin thing was just a mention in a larger article on S.F. Shitters. The owners observed us for a while, then became concerned, then asked for a tape of our music so's they could decide whether or not to lynch us. They offered no comments.
We did two sets of deu deu and cranky spanker, finishing with a water-skiing pyramid, seed spitting, and a sneaky sniffer. Some people left, some stayed. We received a lot of apologies from scenesters about how "fucked Lubbock is."
Lubbock didn't seem particularly fucked to me. I felt sort of sad hearing this. It's as if they're assuming we think it's fucked and that they're too stupid to know it. The thought wouldn't have crossed my mind if they hadn't been so eager to tell us that they knew Lubbock, TX is not a great cultural center (what is?).
All this reminds me of the talk we had with Jay (of the Seemen) about the pleasant safety and terrible claustrophobia of playing music primarily for people who are musicians and/or artists; people who are predisposed to like what you're doing who already understand the language you're using, as opposed to playing for people who don't understand or even want to understand that language.
It made me wonder if I would cringe upon receiving a compliment about our music from a racist, sexist, macho, meathead guy. Is there any group of people to whom exposing your work is a complete waste of time? Is it worthwhile to exist as one part of a circle of back-patters, no matter what the size of the circle is? I should shut up.

November 16

mark davies
We got the dry heaves again last night. Drove all day-quite a bit of it was to the East, i.e. out of our way. Showed up at Pyramid Club in Oklahoma City around 7:15. There was no one there but a security guard. Then a large black man and a short Latin guy showed up. They're running a hip-hop dance night upstairs. They told us that the downstairs (where we were supposed to play) was leased out a couple weeks ago to a new party. There's no stage and it was obvious that some kind of construction has been taking place there. So we tried calling this guy Steve Heath who was putting on the show. His phone is disconnected or something. Tried calling his partner-not home. There are no flyers anywhere. We waited around in the Egyptian/Elvis hip-hop club, waiting for someone to call. Finally three of Heath's colleagues showed up. They apologized all over each other and explained that we're the third band in three weeks that this had happened to. Apparently, this Heath guy has gone into hiding somewhere and hasn't bothered to notify touring bands that his club had closed.
So we headed on down the road and got a motel in Shamrock, Texas. Hugh pulled into the motel parking lot and immediately did some sort of weird three-point turning job. As he parked, a police car pulled up beside him and beckoned him to get out. He asked Hugh a million questions about where we were from and where we were going and what we were doing, etc. I guess some car had been broken into and Hugh looked suspicious. So, of course, after this we were a little apprehensive about sneaking five people into a little motel room meant for two.
I slept in the van and froze my ass off. I had a dream that I was in a convenience store. I realized it was near my house and got excited that I could sit at home for a while and enjoy my snack. I got a Drumstick and a bottle of something. Then as I was about to leave the store, two guys walked up to me with these weird smiles on their faces. They were approaching me slowly and saying, "Hey, we know who you are. You know who we are, don't you?" Their faces with their twisted smiles loomed toward mine and I backed into a corner and suddenly awoke.

anne eickelberg
Texas Panhandle going towards Albuquerque and it makes me wonder... I'm relearning just how small and inbred rock 'n' roll is. Meaningless, basically. No matter how mind-bending or well-executed your music is, you are still just a rock band. I feel no bitterness or suicidal despair, I'm just stating the truth. Just, just, just. I still feel like we aren't tough enough to really break through. We're conservative in our actions. Our minds may conjure up insane situations and personalities but our whole selves are a little too timid or cautious. Please note my use of the words "we" and "our." I'm in no way excluding myself from these criticisms. Sometimes I long for recklessness, though. Sometimes I despise us for being so wholesome and nice (compared to, you know, Led Zeppelin and RKL). Sometimes I wish everyone in the band was taller. Hell, I don't know, I'm just trying to write in this diary. Hope y'all 'r' havin' a shitty day at work.

brian hageman
Showed up for one of our few solid, confirmed shows at the Pyramid in Oklahoma City last night to find that the live show space had been leased to a business and none of the people there knew who we were. We were the third such band to arrive show-less this week. We went to a motel near the TX border (because it was too cold to camp for most of us) and slept four in a single.
The weather has been cold but wonderfully clear and the sky has a paleness that I've only seen in the midwest in the winter. It's been making me nostalgic.
One winter back in Iowa, my father, Urban, who is a farmer, ended up with a little man in his ear. Now, Dad's ears were pretty big and pretty well choked with lumps of brown to black wax, bugs, potato chips and dead fish, so he didn't consciously notice the presence of the little man in his ear. He just assumed the occasional tickling caused by the little man's movements were due to rummaging bugs and since his body had always been open to bug traffic, bugs were certainly welcome in his ears, too.
The little man in Urban's ear was just one of those industrious vagrants who amble about doing things without much thought about careers or a place to call home. He was just the sort to violate physical laws, changing his relationship to other things in time and space out of simple ignorance.
He was not stupid. He just didn't think about much of anything besides doing what he liked to do best: carpentry. This lack of concentration on the details of his existence was what landed him in Urban's ear. He so completely ignored his surroundings that his surroundings began to ignore him.
One night the man had been in the middle of a pasture walking when he happened on some old boards from a long-collapsed pig shelter. He was struck with an idea for building the ultimate icon to the art of carpentry. He began working quickly, drooling occasionally and talking out loud about the final structure. Soon he was working so intently that he was entirely unaware of anything but himself and his materials. The world, failing to recognize him, suddenly lost its grip on him.
For a moment (or perhaps a non-moment), his body and the boards he was working on flashed up and became as large as the Milky Way and the next moment he was tiny and nestled deep within Urban's ear. Neither party noticed any of this.
My father's ear has seen a lot of things in its time, so many things, in fact, that it was the only place in the world where the carpenter could be recognized and held in place by his surroundings, no matter how hard he concentrated on his carpentry. Thus the carpenter was restricted to Urban's ear as he worked on his masterpiece.
My father, as I've said, is a farmer. This means that he is many skilled tradesmen in one, veterinarian, botanist, mechanic, manager, lawyer, acrobat, mystic, and carpenter. Also, as I said earlier, the little carpenter in Urban's ear spoke out loud as he worked, keeping clear in his own mind the complex ideas involved in building the perfect piece of carpentry. Therefore, my father's eardrum received a non-stop verbal description of the work in progress. Most of this passed into Urban's subconscious for his conscious mind was far too busy engaging in temper tantrums and creation of colorful swearing to notice the quiet monotone voice of the carpenter. However, in the evening as Urban slept in front of the television night after night for that whole winter, his mind slowly wound down and as the last hot swear word faded away, the quiet voice of the carpenter came to the fore and the carpenter in Urban was called up, by professional curiosity and the common farmer's conviction that if someone is working on something without a farmer present, there will be hell to pay.
My dad talked in his sleep for three-and-a-half months that year. Each night babbling things like, "For Christ's sake, don't put that there, you stupid ass!" as well as an occasionally blurted "NO" and a "Don't that frost your tits!?" from time to time. Night after night, the carpenter and Urban worked together, oblivious to one another on the structure which was taking form in the middle of a clearing on a field of dark wax near the eardrum. The form was nothing striking to a non-religious carpenter, being pretty much just a boxy-looking thing. But to its planners it was the culmination of centuries of aesthetic blunders and triumphs. As an embodiment of perfection, it became the center of their hearts, their reason for existence, the source of all joy.
And one evening near the end of that winter, as I was smashing a snow sled against the barn, the structure was completed. There was no sudden excitement or climactic explosion when it happened. The structure itself was merely a record of an idea and its completion was sort of like putting the cap back on the best drink you'd ever had.
The little carpenter in Dad's ear was eventually engulfed by the oozing wax and over-thickening mulch which thrives there, and Urban himself occasionally woke up at night with an overpowering feeling of timelessness and his tangled life would seem simple and well-defined. Anyway, that's what this pale blue midwestern winter sky reminds me of.

November 17

hugh swarts
Globe, AZ
Long way to Sri Lanka. Good thing we're not going there. We've logged about 4,400 miles so far. Heading to Tucson for a show at some Indian art gallery (Amerindian, that is. We ruled out India once we decided Sri Lanka was too far).
Albuquerque is a really interesting place and so's the Atomic Theater. We played with two yukko bands: some nondescript thang from El Paso and Treadmill, from Albuquerque (who may move to S.F.)
We're taking Hwy. 77 to Tucson, which means we'll be passing through Winkelman and Dudleyville. I'm ecstatic.
I had the most amazing dream just before waking up this morning. It started out with me looking for nice clothes to put together an ensemble for a business trip to NYC. The dream kept flipping back and forth between work and my bedroom in Indianola, Iowa-waiting for Cindy Lukk to get ready (at work) and getting together all my clothes and some cassette tapes for the trip. A bus figured somehow in this part of the dream, but I don't remember how.
Another hazy part of the dream took place in a modified version of our backyard in Oakland. While I was getting my clothes and cassettes together an SPCA guy was in the backyard because there was a sick animal there. He was looking all around for it and discovered it was Haroldine. He brought her out and she looked okay, but he said she had some kind of serious, communicable disease. He was holding her, getting ready to put her down and leave without doing anything to help her. I got really upset and told him he couldn't just leave her, seeing how she was so sick. I talked him into taking her and he had a box that she had been in that was now filled with a bunch of kittens. I got really upset, because they were in the box and were going to get Haroldine's disease and probably die.
Then I was back at work and Seymour was telling me a story about bears. This bear's breasts became two parent bears, side-by-side and a bunch of bear cubs spread out from either side. More or less like this.
I was imagining it really vividly and it was all in orange. When Seymour's story ended, all the bears had coalesced into a single bear, which instantly became an orange sort of abstract expressionist painting that Seymour and I were holding. So anyway, Seymour's story ended up having no point and I was confused. I asked him what it meant and he said, "How should I know? I don't know if it has any meaning. It's just a story."
Shift to New York and I'm with Jeff Forlenza. We're in a strange hotel looking for our room. We look in on these disheveled little cubicles and Joe Schillmoeller comes along to tell us we each get one to ourselves. I plan to call my sister, then Jeff and I are going to go out partying. Somebody starts telling me this story in purple (similar to the one Seymour was telling me in orange) and I'm imaging it, but really having to concentrate. Ron Nielsen interrupts to tell me I need to check out these two girls in the hotel lounge across the street. I try imagining the story in purple and Ron Nielsen interrupts again about the girls. I'm really pissed because I can't get the story in purple back now.
The next thing I know, I'm behind an orange wall in a restaurant with a Chinese motif. It's the painting of the abstract expressionistic orange bear on glass and three men are telling secrets on the other side and I'm a witness. This is what Seymour's story and the painting mean! But I don't know what it means because I couldn't hear the secrets. What if they're planning to murder somebody?
Here's the answer to Seymour's story and I can't interpret it!
Shift: I'm in a stairwell with a spiral staircase. I go part way up and my route is blocked by this malign, ugly, tall and wiry guy with a knife who's taunting me. I pull out a box cutter and slash at him to fend him off, but he's always just out of my reach, dodging my jabs and slashes. He's taunting me with riddles and moving the knife back and forth in his left hand, when another knife appears in his right hand. He clearly means to do me harm, but he's playing cat and mouse with me and I'm getting panicky. He's moving both knives menacingly and continuing his riddles when a third knife appears-a long, curved dagger like the ones used for sacrifices:
I dash down the spiral staircase and he materializes in front of me, blocking my escape. Somehow I manage to get past him screaming for Mark and Brian to come see the man who was trying to kill me.
I'm out on the street-they join me and we go back to the staircase. We look up and the spiral stairs start to ascend with us beside the bottom step. We get to the top and go through the roof...
Shift: Desert landscape in the most vivid colors imaginable: all vibrant primary and secondary colors that keeping shifting-mostly purple, orange and green. I'm fascinated by the colors because they're so alive. And I'm not just observing them-I'm becoming them as I see them. There's no distinction between me as observer and them as subject. I'm totally immersed in Orange or Green, etc.
I'm looking at the night sky and am part of it, like I was with the colors. A moon appears. I suddenly realize I can put a second one there if I want to, so I do. I watch the two moons in fascination, then start adding stars.
I switch to the landscape-a clump of intensely orange grass; the orange penetrating me. The color drains, leaving only a residue of the intense orange. I look up and Mark is body surfing on intensely colored waves. I realize I'm dreaming this and the intense colors disappear, but the scene remains the same.
Now "awake," I begin telling Mark about my dream and how lucid it was: about the images and colors and how there was no separation between me and what I was seeing and how I could manipulate reality at will (as with adding the moon and stars to the sky). As I'm telling Mark about my dream, I wake up for real.

November 18

brian hageman
Once again, we played to a tiny audience last night. It was an art show thing with a fairly long performance art piece which had a man banging on barrels which were mounted on sleds. The guy talked about things getting more and more difficult as time passes and occasionally he would push the barrel sleds further apart, so soon he had to run back and forth between them. The space we played in was a live-in warehouse/art gallery near some busy railroad tracks. That part of Tucson seemed very tough and sort of ugly in a way.
The works on display for the exhibit, when taken as a whole, gave me a feeling of hardness or of people being weighted with difficulties. I liked a lot of the pieces and met some interesting people but didn't really like the atmosphere.
We drove to Tucson from Albuquerque via the Salt River Canyon. I'd never been to anything like that canyon before.

anne eickelberg
Getting nearer to those slot machines.
SEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEXGODSEX
I just remembered how, when I still toyed with, or embraced Christianity in a traditional manner, I would become fearful at rock concerts when I'd notice everyone nodding their heads to the beat in unison. It was an acknowledgment to the devil, being taken over en masse by evil parading in the guise of music.
What a cruel philosophy I was exposed to.
FEARFEARFEARFEARFEAR
Only humans fear. That's the only sin we have. It makes us the weakest link. Snap.

November 19

anne eickelberg
Last night we went to Vegas. Everything is flashing there. People actually live there, for Christ's sake. We did a zero penetration dilrod show on campus. No impression of any kind. Everything is highlighted here. It's as if every word, idea, or concept were underlined. Every image is designed to stand out. The result, of course, is total overload with no accent on anything. The casinos brim with excitement on the surface but the reality is that nothing's going on -everyone is sitting and staring at a screen on a table, plugging their nickels and quarters and pulling the handle. Their brain waves are a straight line. There are all these fancy, lighted casino signs that work on the same pattern. An image or word is composed of many lightbulbs. First the image will fill up from top to bottom. Then the lights will scatter around randomly for a second. Then the outline of the image will light up and hold for a second. Then the cycle starts again. It's just like the pattern of a slot machine: put your money in, the machine shuffles, you get your answer. All the players brains are on the same cycle too: input, action, result, input, action, result, input, action, result. That's entertainment, man.

anne. president of the universe
Early morning. Highway 58, leaving Barstow. I can't believe I actually slept. We left Las Vegas in the dark, when I couldn't see and was making hideous faces. Mark managed to drive 120 miles before stopping to pass out. We traded places and I was crammed under the steering wheel against the door with my legs resting on the van's engine cover thing. I noticed Mark was curled up in horrible disfigurement in the passenger seat. Sweet dreams. Now we will all become sullen and full of despair.
But anyway, my only reaction to our playing to that docile, blank group at UNV last night was to walk around with a snotty expression on my face and proclaim loudly, "I see nothing. I see nothing." Oh, yes, and of course, when we were loading our junk back into Doug, I was assuring everyone in the band that I now knew exactly how Jesus Christ felt (I was not drunk).
Now I'm just waitin' ta get ta Bakersfield so's we kin have a real sit-down breakfast in the town of our dreams (I've eaten so much convenience store food, gas station food, that my brain is hardening). I'm pleased with my restraint though-I drank really bad beer, consumed unspeakably horrifying coffee when we couldn't make our own, and have eaten several microwave sausage and egg and orange gack sandwiches without becoming overly agitated. I haven't even thrown a fit over not being able to find a store that carries Drum tobacco.
Yes, I'm deeply disgusted and insulted by the abundance of mediocre crap that's readily available in every city's outer circle of mini-malls and 7-11s and I plan to do something about it, like encourage nuclear war, but I did choke my prissy hatred and become a forager within those hideous structures, rather than starve. Hmmm. Better starve next time.
I feel that one thing of mine I know where it is. But now I have another thing of mine and I don't know where it is.

brian hageman
We're Dougulating up Hwy. 5 and it truly stinks. The air has been light brown/gray ever since we descended into Bakersfield. All of the landscape has been brown for hours-not the desert sort of brown, but a weak, anemic sort of brown.
I keep thinking about our arrival at Jumbo Rock in Joshua Tree National Monument two weeks ago. When we got there, I started jumping up and down and smiling so acutely that it hurt. I could not stop jumping. The sky was absolutely clear, the stars were brilliant, and the air was cold and clean. I jumped up and down looking up at the night sky till I felt I was capable of jumping right up to the moon.
Our show in Las Vegas was another fucked up mess like most of the others. We played a monstrous gymnasium thing at the student union. We had no monitors, no sound man, no instruments miked, no audience, no response, and very little time to play. We opened for an intensely retarded funk band whose drummer kept offering to loan Paul parts of his kit (he just couldn't get that Paul wants to hit a pile of cracked, twisted cymbals). We received no pay... again, and again, no one wanted us to stay with them. We drank.
We drove the Vegas strip. Everyone was very excited for the first ten minutes or so, then it became a terrible nightmare. A lot of the marquees on the casinos seemed to reflect the total experience of the people who played the slot machines within. The lights would fill or light up in order, filling the image from bottom to top, then things would gesticulate or twinkle, then the whole thing would drain out again. Meanwhile, thousands of human brains withered and winked out entirely to the rhythm of the same process as they spent hour after hour playing slot machines, their bottoms slowly engulfing their seats as their pile of change grew bigger, then smaller, then bigger, then smaller-all night long.
Now we're back in California, where that dirty little prick of a nefarious little demon of a goddamn little rabbit wouldn't dare follow us. He and his probable cohorts-the Titular Beef of Pork Housinge, the Minister of Turd Lozenge, the Dainty-Lord of Pus, the Wooden Army of Ed McMahons, the Uninvited Flaming Orbisons, the dung-heap-disguised police of Texas and all the other wielders of the pain dilrod can go choke on their own noxious breath for all I care. I feel like starting from scratch.

anne eickelberg
70 miles out of Oakland on I-5. Almost time to stop writing in here. I just got done with my driving shift along the brown and flat and smogged up garbage-scape. Hot & dry. But I had a surprisingly easy haul. Guess I've slipped into the routine. And now... Avoidance. I am getting nervous and weird about returning. So I bought a rattlesnake beer at the Chevron a minute ago and got better (Rattlesnake beer is made in TEXAS). Don't expect to see me at work tomorrow, either. "Exhausted, have a cold, got no sleep..."
Happy Thanksgiving.

our "rock 'n' roll" experiences
or those moments or situations in which we felt like we did the rock 'n' roll thing.

anne eickelberg
I've had my combat boots on since Saturday at 8:00 a.m. (it's now Sunday evening). I also managed to wear the same pair of cut off jeans almost every day. Drinking beer in a moving vehicle-which is something I haven't done since high school because it's kind of dumb.

paul bergmann
"I like the way you play drums. Your band is cool."
"Wow, I must be in love with you, then. What's your name?"
"Joan."
"Well, your great beauty is only exceeded by your excellent taste in music."
"What? Are you alright?"
"Yeah, it's just the last couple of days I've been fighting off a slight case of brain death."

brian hageman
Oh, yeah, huh, huh. Achievement dilrod.

mark davies
Everything's blurring together. I can't remember anything. Playing horribly at the Axiom, chasing everyone out and then having the sound guy laugh in my face.

hugh swarts
He slept, once again, with his sunglasses on.