dutch dude calros - the man outside the van
watt - thud staff, spiel
paul roessler - organ, singing
raul morales - drums
(clockwise from top left)
sunday, may 8, 2005 - hasselt, belgium
My head feels like it's gonna pop, so congested, maybe it's the ten heaters on at the same time, helped dry some cloths though, so i shouldn't complain. Once were in the van, it's coffee time, and right off the road is a station, not the best coffee in the world, i think the worst coffee would be a better description. Anyway, what looks like a driveway right into the place, turns out to be a two foot high curb, and i didn't notice it, until were inches away... right into it. We're fucked, the van, a front wheel drive, and one of the tires isn't even touching the ground, the van is resting right on it's axle, we got so much weight in here, this can't be good. We gotta get something under that wheel for some traction, then maybe watt can back it up. Every one scrambles in diffrent directions, looking thru dumpsters, behind buildings, for anything that could help. First we try a big pile of cardboard, that gets shot out. By this time, people are startin' to stare at the show... all we wanted was coffee. Paul comes back with a few planks of wood, best thing found so far. At first it seems we're doomed, and we'll have to take all the gear out and get to pusin', then we have luck. the wood gave the wheel just enough traction to turn a bit, and it grabbed back onto the curb and pulled out... such a close one. That could've been a bigger disaster. Well, no way were gonna get coffee here, we look like schleps, we rolled off with our tail between our legs, but still happy we rolled at all.
Took a couple trys at gettin' coffee, and the only place we could find it was at the same named gas station, it was like we were being called back... come to me. It was a trippy way to get coffee. You paid up front, and they gave you this little container filled with grounds, and you put in the manchine like a card, and i guess it opens it up, pours hot water on it, and out comes the shittiest coffee of tour. My theroy is that they have about ten of these little coffee cartriges, and when the machine sucks em' up they just get thrown in a box and resold, and what we're actually drinkin' is warmed up toilet water... just a theroy. As an attack on this coffee, we stop at the next suitable place, a rest stop, but over here they're called welcome breaks, and they're pretty equiped. I know it sounds hippie, but i get some tea, my throat is feelin' like it's lined with grip tape.
Last week to get over to england, we took the ferry, this week to get back to the continent, we're gonna take the channel tunnel, or the name i like better, chunnel. It's a train that carries cars underneath the water, it's trippy cuz you stay in the car while it's in the train, it's pretty fast too, we crossed the channel in forty minutes. Still got a four hour drive in front of us, gonna drive thru most of belguim, small country. On the way we're suppoed to bypass brussels, and head towards antwhorp. There's some road construction, so we gotta reroute... no problem. Even though i was navigatin' paul was a hugh help findin' the club, well auctually he found it. It's in a warehouse district of hasselt, right next to a canal. As soon as i walk in, greets, the lady who books and roadies for karate hands me a package, it's from kset she says. unless it's bills or bad news, i love gettin' mail. It's from jasmina, she's one of the twenty hard core volunters, outta two hundred fifty, who keep kset floatin'. If you don't remember, kset is the club that us and the thermals played at in zagreb, croatia. A couple weeks ago she mails me about this band she's loves, and thinks i should hear it. So when i got back to pedro, we were gonna start tradin' music. She got started sooner, she saw that we were gonna play with karate later in the tour, so when they played kset, she trusted greets to deliver the mail when we met in hasselt. Good package, a couple recordings, some of her band, photos, and even some coffee... very cool, sweet thing to do.
We showed up kinda late, but are still able to fit in a quick sound check. I took a walk past the club and walked a little lenght of the canal, but it's drizzling, and i'm getting worse by thhe day, sometimes i can will away colds, just pretend there not there, it dosn't seem to be working now... time to pay the fiddler. When i go back, it's chow time. This club has a older lady doin' all the cooking, her names monique, and she a great cook. I had two big plates of some sorta vegetable stew dish, put the salad right on top, and the peanuts from the table on top of that, washed it all down with an iced tea... great. After chow i hid backstage and caught up on chimpin'. It kinda sucked, i didn't get to check out the bands too much, but i had to do this. I could hear em' though, i was right behind the stage. First group was toman, some kind of currency outta pursia they said. Long songs that kept building, lots of hidden melodies. I did poke my head in once or twice, and what caught my attention more than the songs were the visuals. The bass player had filmed their tour of spain, and edited it together then projected at they played, it looked rad with the shadows of the band over the film. After they finished, there was a band playin' upstairs while the next band set up. Before us there was another band upstairs, but i didn't go up all night... sorry. Even while karate played i just stayed and did diary, there's access here, so i gotta get finished so watt can post it. Karate were real tight, just not my cup of tea, but what the hell do i know, everybody else was screamin' for more.
Like watt said right after we were done, the piece lived a weird life tonight. Something about it just didn't seem right, we played it correct, maybe that was it, not enough emotion, but i don't think that's true either... i just can't figure it out. It was real dark on stage, and that made me uncomfortable right from the start, the air had a sinister feel, it gave the stage the wrong vibe for this particular piece of music, i felt like i was tryin' to hide. The only person who seemed into it was the drummer from the crime club, even his girl looked bummed out. I'm not exageratting either, it did live a weird life, and i still can't figure out why. During angels gate, i was gettin; into it, and i pulled somthing in my neck. It hurt so bad i thought i might have to stop, i think the pain just scared me, i've never felt any thing like that before, and lets hope never again, something popped, and for a sec i thought maybe it was my brain. After the first set, watt noticed that the set up wasn't the same as sound check, and maybe that was the problem. Usually he has is foot right at the kick drum, and the way it was set, he was a foot behind. Maybe the problem, but who knows. After the gig, confidence was not to good, i didn't even sweat. So i just kinda grumbled at the other band folks who said it was a good gig, i knew it wasn't, at least not to what my expection is, i wasn't feelin' the same. It's like an unspoken thing, like you gotta tell the band your playin with that they did good, i guess it's a positive gesture, but sometimes it a total lie, and usually it's a pretty obvious one. I'm not complainin' though, just an observation.
I hear Chris leaving in the morning but try to hide in the air mattress; it's hard because whenever i sleep I'm awoken with a stabbing pain in the kidneys area, it's not kidneys though, I think it's ribs digging into inner organs, I haven't put my finger on it. It goes away if I get up and move around but who wants to get up and move around after five hours of sleep when it's all cold like that? Note to self: leap out of bed increasingly early with a good attitude; don't lie in bed depressed and in pain...
So I pretend to be sleeping and not in pain till I hear Watts voice then I move. We're in the van in about five minutes and driving down Atlantic Coast Highway (it really does remind me of PCH) looking for coffee, but the Safeway gas station doesn't have it so we keep moving. Let's try that one. Whoops, we go over a curb and are stuck, suspended or hung up by the undercarriage. The front wheel drive wheels spin uselessly burning rubber. Damn.
Now Mike has done an amazing job of driving and as much as I drive, I know damn well I couldn't have done half as good. So there is not one second of recrimination, just start trying to figure out how to get out. And it's interesting to watch Mike apply his mind to a problem, he's pretty outwardly calm and systematic, whatever hysteria he may or may not be feeling inside. So he says we need some boards to put under the tires, that sounds good to me, but where the fuck are we going to find boards Sunday morning on ACH? I wander off and pretty quick I luck out and find what we need; we shove em under the tires and it doesn't seem to help, in fact, one of the boards shoots out in a way that could probably have killed somebody, but as Mike revs, I think the side wall grabs the curb and the van slips free. Yay.
Relieved, we head for the Chunnel which will take us across the English channel, under the English channel to be exact. The Chunnel is big railroad cars, they look alot like cattlecars that you drive onto, then they slide inside big trains that whip you under the ocean for about 20 minutes and then you're in France. I think there's one passage going each way, then there's a central tunnel in case there's a problem and you have to get out and walk. Pretty ingenious and efficient, not really that glamorous but highly fucking functional. So there's my stamp of approval. I sleep about half the way to the Chunnel and more after, I've been staying up at night doing these diaries so sometimes I catch up sleep on the drives. Raul is chimping like a fiend trying to get caught up and he's doing a man's job of it. The English and French scenery is just not all that interesting, if there's something good I'll f'ing tell you.
Before the chunnel they do do the gunpowder swabs at the border, and again the young customs guy is repulsed when Mike says we do jazz fusion.
We get through Belgium and to the gig at the Muziekodroom in Hasselt, Belgium with no problem at five on the dot. They wanted us there earlier, but it was seven hours and we told the other bands to go ahead and soundcheck. It's a big place with a small upstairs room more like a club; and a big downstairs more like a concert hall. The two bands upstairs go on while the bands downstairs are switching over. Turns out that though we are going on last, we're not strictly the headliner, the band before us, Karate, are from Boston and bigger than us, so that could be a drag. Interesting though because Karate does some minutemen covers.
The load in is super easy, lots of help, no stairs, big high stage, good sound people, everything very pro, welcome back to Europe. We check and it's very easy and quick. There's not really a backstage room, well there's a little one for all the bands, so I start looking for a place where I can have some privacy because I don't want anyone looking at me. Why? I don't know but it seems very, very important all of a sudden. But I can't find anywhere to go; fortunately it's time to eat so we walk the hundred yards to the OTHER back stage area, where I figure I can shave and change and not have anyone look at me, but no, that's dinner tables where we all sit together and eat. There's a great salad, a pasta, a vegie goulash or something and a nassi gorang which is Indonesian food which I haven't had for 35 years. I try it and wait a minute this doesn't taste like any nassi gorang I've ever had, and it's true, it's just what the chef lady calls it. Good though.
I am forced to eat staring straight down into my food and to leave as soon as I'm done. Where am I going? I don't know, out of there. Why? Because I feel the urge to flee.
I get back and the opening band, Toman, is checking. They have some analog keyboards, and a dreamy style and there's something about their front person that I just really like. No not in that way, although...he is very cute. I feel like they're going to be good; I talk to him a bit back stage; it's fun trying to talk dutch again although he's actually Flemmish, speaks Spanish because he has a Spanish girlfriend and English just fine. His name is Wouter and he's a pretty moody SOB but we seem to hit it off. I promise him I'm going to watch the set. I need to get out though so I go outside, walk a block and am along this canal, with boats. The club is in a totally industrial area, nothing to see just a couple of those electric generating windmills so fuck it, back to the club, in, out, around, can't get away from fucking me. I give up, Toman is about to go on, so I just sit in front and let them take me away. And I really do like them, they're hipnotic, but they build to crescendos, it's not just jams, Wouter does a few well placed vocals, and he's great like Conner Oberst or maybe a little more Radioheadish, but their own style. He's having technical problems before they even go on, he's worried about it, but I can see what they're going for. We could learn from that, shit will happen, if you just go all out, that's your fucking band, the increments don't matter, as long as you give it consistant effort and energy! Anyway he's really pissed and frustrated when he gets off and I can't really make him believe it was good, whatever I liked it.
Next is Karate, and Raul has turned me against them saying they were mean to their tour manager, Greet, who's been working with them for 8 years or something. I didn't witness it, and I don't think she would work for them for so long unless there was a good relationship, but I can't help it, they're totally not what I expected and I can't for the life of me get with them. Now, the place is PACKED for them, they have 11 CDs for sale at their booth, Wouter thinks they're great, I just can't fucking get into it. I was into Toman and I can't switch gears, the singer never changes his expression, the energy level is very flat, whatever, I'll probably worship them someday. Later, Mike tells me there's a whole movement of bands like that, and that makes sense; I can tell that they're operating from some kind of subtext that I'm not aware of. Anyway, I go check emails and try to pull my head together. At one point I'm just sitting in a dark hallway praying to be relieved of the bondage of self. What that means is that if I thought about someone else instead of myself I wouldn't be all balled up inside all the time. Maybe I just have stage fright?
Karate finishes, they really are pretty polished and the crowd undeniably loves them and they file out leaving the room empty. I've known that this whole audience wouldn't be here when we play and sure enough only half to two thirds come back when we start, but that's still a very good crowd.
We go on and I feel pretty good. I've decided as a rule of thumb that it's better for Mike to ask me to get louder than to ask me to get softer, so I start very controlled; he asks for more and it feels good, it feels loud because I came up from soft, does that make any sense? It's a big stage and it feels a little difuse, a little separate but I can work with it. The lights are a little dark, that throws me at one point, I hit a wrong button, damn! little glitch, but all'nall pretty smooth. Mike starts having noticable problems around belt sanded man and things get kinda screwy after that. Still, we end stong with pelican man and I feel it was a pretty good set, not our standard audience of all people there to see Watt, maybe some converts. I have a wierd moment at the end of the set, I'm building and building the energy trying to get to a peak and I suddenly notice that mike is just bringing the energy way back, and I have a real crisis in confidence, that I'm hogging, that he doesn't like what I'm doing, that I've been at odds with his direction, that he doesn't even like playing with me. He doesn't say anything about it after so I don't know; he just didn't feel comfortable with the sound, he couldn't even put his finger on it and I sure know how that is. I usually can't put my finger on most things.
Since we arrived there has been a girl tech, I haven't been sure what she's doing but she is beautiful; I'm sure she's caught me staring at her, which I don't mean to do, I just have highly refined aesthetics. Turns out she and this other guy were doing a recording of Karate for their school in France, and it was cool for me in the encores to look over and see my two favorite people of the night, Wouter and the beautiful sound engineer standing together by the side of the stage. Before the encore, Wouter caught me and said: "Thanks, you gave me something" and I was thinking of Manlio in Italy and Jimi and all the others that remind you what music is all about. There are no words, just let the joy of the moment carry you, communicate it to the others, the joy of creating something with other human beings, relinquish control and let the energies raise you up and over, delight in what you are able to do, ignore the imperfections, the greatest imperfection is lack of joy and love.
After, it takes a while to get away, there's business to be done upstairs, Watt posts last weeks tour diaries; we take a cab to the hotel with Karate, who now seem like nice guys. I have my own hotel room, it's very comfortable. A lot of the hotel rooms in Europe, the electricity doesn't work until you put your room key ito a slot by the front door.
Thats a nice energy saving device.
We'll load out the gear tomorrow at noon; take a cab back with Karate.
Saw a bunch more pictures of Hellin and the kitties, Lilu and Peanut but no email from her. Sometimes it seems like my wife doesn't give a crap about me. Oh well I give enough of a crap about her for both of us.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom
pop at eight bells - finally paying off that konk debt from last weeks hellride to le harve. I go and hose off - shake rapidly like a dog and dripdry cuz I can't find a towel but I'm much used to that. maybe I bogarted a little too much time doing this cuz good host chris is waiting and in a hurry cuz his work's waiting - sorry for that, brother. I go straight out the hatch and get in the boat, my guys follow in a little bit. the sun's out bright and the english channel look beautiful. head back for the center of town and we stop at a gas station that's a combination safeway grocery market - that's a trip! but wouldn't you know it, they don't have coff so we head back down the road and I see a texaco across the street a little way off. what look like a giant driveway in front (no curb visible) actually is not a driveway but has a big fucking curb going the other way (facing the pumps). raul tries to warn me, seeing what's up at the last minute but too late, fucking idiot watt puts the forward starboard wheel over this "curb" and the boat is hung up, stuck on that wheel's a-frame arm. trying to go either forward or reverse does nothing (some guy getting gas enlightens us w/"your wheel is spinning) - remember this is a front-wheel drive boat and the back tires do nothing but roll (if the front ones have something to grab onto!). the wheel's like two inches up from the ground and I go find some flattened-out boxes at the side of the station but these prove too lame to get any traction going. I ask raul and paul to go look for some boards and paul comes back w/three slats that look like they're to be used for a fence. I stick these under the tire but one gets shot out from tire-spin, am so glad neither of my guys were in front to catch that! I stuff two of them in further, as far as they'll go and turn the wheel back and forth to try and get a good angle going when some traction can be gotten - I know I ain't got many tries cuz the inside sidewall is smoking up w/it rubbing like crazy on the curb when the wheel finally catches enough in reverse (I quickly am trying both forward and backwards) and the boat jumps up the curve whence it came. "good show," says another man at one of the pumps getting gas and I tell my guys to jump in quick after having paul return those slats. whew, that was close. what a nightmare call I would have to make to carlos, telling him the tour's in the final lap and I put the boat out of the race! we talk about it some as we head north up through brighton on our way to catch the m23 back to the london orbital. I tell them what tour's taught me is don't totally freak out even when the craziest shit has just come down cuz you need all your wits about you to muster a bravo (plan b). even saying that though, I admit to my men we were lucky - big thanks from watt to the forces that be.
we hit the orbital and go east 'til we catch the m20 for dover - that's where the chunnel is and we're taking that to calais in france. we finally find coff but it's a trip, you buy this "capsule" which is a plastic incased amount of freeze-dried coffee and shove it into a machine that jams hot water through it into a tiny cup. crimony. we get into dover w/plenty of time - good thing though that carlos made a reservation cuz it's pretty filled up for the 12:30 crossing. what goes on is you're put on a train, riding in your vehicle (of course w/your motor off) and the train goes through the tunnel and brings you up on the other side where you drive off. yep, that's a trippy way to get across the english channel (going along the bottom of it) but it only takes thirtyfive minutes and costs 128 pounds (about $250). before we got put aboard the train, we were directed to the security bay and the boat searched and sniffed for bomb stuff, the officer kind of tripping on finding all those habaneros (leicester gigboss ian gave me a further bag after I got the mic I forgot at the club), asking, "do you just munch them?" that I do. the other officer asked what kind of music do I do and of course I reply w/"jazz fusion" after first screwing up and saying "mine." maybe they thought I meant "my kind of jazz fusion" cuz we're let right on through after that. oh, I also tried to find a voltage adapter for that fucking pedal board dachau but no luck. oh well, if I have to I'll just get a battery for the fuzz one I use for "beltsandedman" and go straight for the rest. we'll see what happens, maybe they'll have an adapter at the venue cuz this place we're playing is all set up for music besides gigs - prac rooms and a studio even. in france one more time, thrice now (see, some of england wearing off on me!) and not one gig - next time I gotta play here. back on the side of the road I'm used to also. we roll through dunquirke and into belgium - trippy, we're gonna go 'pert-near across the whole country in an afternoon. it's flat land out here in what they call one of the "low countries" - much "polder" w/lots of cows and sheep. it's different farming in europe than the u.s. but there's lots of it, you might be surprised. you don't find much "open" land - almost everything that's not a town gets used for farming or industry. europe is about not having much space but making the most of what there is of it. here's some flashbacks to think oh home: there's some plug w/the traff from ghent on... some things are very much universal, huh? a warning sign alerts us to get to hasselt via brussels instead of antwerp so I've got raul routing an alternate way - he's getting better and better at the map thing. the local "map" we got is way abstract but I've played this pad before w/j so I'm kind of familiar and believe or not, the abstract take on visually getting us there actually work. we pull in right at five and a boston band called karate are soundchecking. this is the band that covered four minutemen songs on their last record, that writer named carsten in munster let me grab them from him. they're three nice cats and I talk to them for a bit while I chow some good food made up here at the venue (oh, I forgot to say it's called muziekodroom). the bassist jeff played w/mary timony one tour I did some gigs w/her. we talk the tour spiel, good to get a little tight w/cats from "the states" (europe folks like to call the u.s. that) - like back in zabreb some w/the thermals. it's especially good not to hear people whine about playing over here and actually digging it. tonight is karate's last gig of the tour.
hold on, I'm ahead of myself here a little. now the gigboss wim does indeed come up w/an adapter for me when do a check w/soundman kirk and monitorman mark. wim is a great cat, it's very much an honor to work for him and the others making the show happen too. I go to the boat after talking some w/wim which I enjoy much but I gotta watch it cuz I do get beat doing spiel - does that make sense? maybe I get into too much and put out too much effort but I can't help it cuz well, I don't know - I just get into it and am driven to make some kind of sense. I hate coming off shallow or just like I'm here to use people cuz that is so much not the case. my strength though is kind of limited and I gotta ration what I got cuz I do have to give the best gig I can. sometimes it's a "gig" just spieling w/one person, you know? they make an impression on you and I don't know, you just wanna "share" something. I'm kind of nuts that way, get carried away. I go to the boat to chimp diary but first think about this being sunday and again, I can't talk to my ma and let her know I'm ok. luckily they got internet access up here and I can put up week five of the diaries - she digs reading those. I get done and konk in the little space between the back bench and the front seats.
I pop just in time to see the last of karate's set, a lot of folks are here to see them. I tell them all thanks and then set up my stuff while my guys do likewise. we do the piece. I have to say the piece lived a weird life tonight. there was little things that bugged me, like having my leg too far from the kick drum (I like being right up close on it so I can feel it and paul being over too wide on his side, also having a mic for the cymbals right where his face was so eye contact was tough. another thing was the bass sound, it's been this way for the last couple gigs, it seems (since leicester)... it starts off ok but after the hell part, it gets really lame and I'm wondering if it's the amp or what? the strings are certainly dead from all the sweat on them from the brighton gig. I'm gonna really check things out tomorrow, sometimes I neglect this kind of stuff and then I find the gig right there on me and there's nothing I can do about it, stupid fucking watt. anyway, like I said before, the piece lived a strange life tonight. in a way it's kind of natural for that cuz a tour's a life in a certain way and there's a rhythm to it. somehow we're asked to do more (I can't really believe it) and we do the dyaln tune amongst the b.o.c. and minutemn ones but I have to admit here I like this song less and less the way we do it. maybe I'm comparing it too much w/the pete mazich version I got used to last tour (I really liked the way pete did it) and am not being fair to paul but I don't know if I'll call this one out again. maybe though, we'll see. it is such a relief to get to the pop group tune and then end this gig. I tell my guys when we're done "the piece lived a weird life tonight" and even tell gigboss wim and the karate cats too. it's not like we lamed out but it was had such a strange air to it, like it was trying itself to speak to me, to tell me "other" things but in a tongue I couldn't wrap my head around... sos strange. geoff, the guitarist, tells me some nice things - he said he's done those minutemen songs they cover for a hundred shows now and when he says "d. boon," everyone digs it. much respect to him. he also tells me if I ever want some guitar and singing, he'll fly wherever he has to and be right there for me - very kind of him. wim takes me upstairs and I upload the diaries though fuck, I forgot to get raul's spiel. wim says we can leave the gear here and since we're at the same 'tel as karate, ride w/them in a cab (they're leaving their stuff too) and get things tomorrow, using the internet connect here again to get raul's entries in. for me it was so weird to have raul missing like he was last week from the diaries cuz his perspective on how tour flows is a great one. thanks much for letting me get this happening, wim.
we all pile into a minivan cab and ride over to the 'tel, me telling geoff about some 'trane stuff I know. we arrive and I get up to my room, wondering if I should wash my shirt but then decide "fuck it" - I'm thinking of the "weird life" the piece lived tonight and how I wanna give it a different one tomorrow. dutch dude carlos joins us for two gigs tomorrow, great cuz I love him. man, do I have soreness in my bones - konk is the salve... I will myself over and out.
monday, may 9, 2005 - brussels, belgium
Brussels is real close to hassalt, so we don't leave to get the gear till noon. I kinda re gret not waking up early enough to go walkin' in the morning, but it was kinda raining, so i guess i couldn't of covered too much ground. Loaded up the gear and got the diaries up, and were on our way. Still feelin' crappy, so on the way to brussels, i kept downing water. When we got to the city proper, we didn't have the best directions, and were soon lost, not lost but not quite sure where to go... Damn, i had to piss so bad, and all i had were these little water bottles, and i don't think were gonna find the club too soon. Relief comes when the guys stop to check out a city map. Brussels is a pretty big city, looks like lots of different cultures in one place, The place that were looking for is dead in the middle of the city. There's a loop that circles around, and were right in the middle.
The first city map didn't help much, so the roam continues. We stopped at another, and still had a hard time finding the strret that we needed, a lady walkin' by was a big help, she found the street we needed, and pointed us in the right direction. Once we get close, it starts lookin' famiiar to watt. The place were playing is a hugh building, the size of half the block, maybe four stories high. We're gonna be in the smaller room, and before there's gonna be a showing of we jam econo, the story of the minutemen. This is a treat for me, when it opened in pedro i couldn't go see it, i had a gig the same night. I biked by the warner before i left town, and it was packed, i think something like fifteen hundred people showed up, it was in a rad old local theatre, and i was to bad i couldn't go. Someone in our group wanted to cancel so they could see the movie, i refused. What kind of band would we be if we canceled a show, to go see a movie about a band that would never do that, i'd feel stupid, and even if we didn't play, i still wouldn't go. Well, we played, and it was a good gig, we'll see it sometime we said, but it won't be the big screen, and the sound won't be as good. Punk movies are fun to see with lots of other punk rockers.
Since i havn't done to much explorin' in the past couple days, i figure i can make up for that in brussels. It's a big city, and i'm right in the middle of it, i get excited, and this pushes the sick a bit back. The weather is tricky here, rain one minute, and sun the next. When i started walkin', i just stayed on the loop around the city, the weather was warm. big middle eastern part of town. Saw some graffiti that an old friend did, i lived with him for a few months in oakland. When i left town, he also did... to belguim. I had only talked to him once after that, and that was years ago, and today he's still up to the same shit, i'm sure he's playin' drums as a hard core band too, it be rad to just run into him walkin' down the street, total shock... no luck, but just seein' the writing let me know he was still around. Alright, the loop gets repetitive real quick, as soon as i hit the bussiness district, gotta get deeper in the mix, so i cut a right off the loop, to this hugh dead end on top of a hill, you could see for miles, and it was above the whole city, pretty amazing view. There's an elevator that you can take down to the street below. Once i get down there the streets go off in every direction, not a grid. Fuck it, i got two hours to get lost and find my way back again. Rad old town, i saw lots of it. I didn't get worried until it started raining, and i had no idea what direction i was headed. Not hard to get out of though, there's city maps everywhere, i think even the locals need em', the streets are so wild. The wet did worry me though, with my luck, i'll die of a cold. I had a bunch of landmarks staked out, but that becomes impossible when your in the middle of ten story buildings, the maps helped the best.
The movie was an hour before show time, and i was the first one there, sittin' right in the middle of tthefloor. People were slowing showing up. It was awesome to see that minutemen footage, all i'd seen before was the flip side video, and it's way to dark, you can only see george's shirt, and watt's way in the shadow. Most of this footage was even before that, good shots too. Watt gettin'' belligerent and callin' out dudes gobbin' on him. Refusing to leave the stage, even though there gettin covered in spit, and boon only has two strings left, it's great, insted of borrowin' one, he just uses what hes got. Real inspiring movie, these guys were for real, musical and intellectual bad asses. Seemed to have reason before the action, well thought out visions, using music to get other ideas out there. Movie, of course had a sad ending, movies don't make me cry, maybe a song, but not film... this one did. As were walkin' on stage, watt asked me what i thought, what could a say, it made me think lots of different things, just starting to process it, but my feeling after seeing it was heavy, i told him i thought it sad. It shook me up, and it as gonna be hard to follow that. Told me not to worry, somewhere boon was lookin' over us. I played it for the minutemen. Growin' up they were a hugh influence on me as well, they were from pedro, and they put out here own records and did it their way, great role models for a young punk, real young, i didn't even catch on till firehose. The first punk record i ever bought watt and d. boon put out, first descendents l.p., another great inspiring band that was a big influence, total road dogs, touring was their life. It was a great gig, we done good. By the middle of the film, the place was packed, everyone seemed very enthusiastic and ready to hear some music, we were very excepted with open arms, the crowd was great, and the communication was on point, it was a good day.
The crime club showed up, it's their home town. So after the gig i spend some time hangin' with them, good guys, and i bet they'll be hugh soon. Met a very eccentric friend of watts and carlos, he used to do a club, and has been around a while. He had shells pinned to his blazer, and all kinds of different noise makers tied around his neck, whistles and noisey spinners, all sorts of weird shit. Had me callin' him godsatan. There were also some folks who had went to the hasselt gig the night before, i was glad they gave us another chance, we gave em' a better show, that's cool. The pad was on the same street as the club, so the group, plus carlos, who's gonna be with us the next two days took a walk. We left the gear and the van at the club, gear's safer, and the van is already parked.
Down at nine for the free croissant, yogurt and corn flakes; it's not exotic but the price is right. They put out slices of meat and cheese alot of times but that seems like lunchtime sandwich food to me. Then I go back to the room and sleep till quarter to twelve easily at which point I get to the lobby to meet everyone. Karate is now like old friends, the singer Jeff asks if anyone wants books to read, and I go yeah, I wind up swapping Dylan "Chronicals 1" for Shakey (Neil Young) a book on the fall of Rome, a Stones "page turner" and a book of essays on jazz I think, so I have lotz to read, although I think Raul will get some of it. I grabbed Rome. Started reading Neil Young and was startled how intensly mmmmm well nuts he is but not nuts, just off the wall, they make no bones; but I figured I'd get to that later, it sounded a little like rock start antics but it might be O.C.D.. Anyway it makes me feel even worse that I haven't appreciated Karate; it is a major part of my philosophy, that if I don't get something or don't like it, it usually means I'm not seeing it through the right eyes, I'm missing something, my emphasis is off, or it just doesn't incorporate elements that I find important right now. People LOTS don't like or appreciate what I like, I've come to the conclusion that music is totally personal to me, I love to make it and other than that I love being a fan, and as such like the music of my friends, people I meet and the people I play with. Rarely nowadays do I get into something that I'm not connected to in some way. Sometimes though. And I hate arguing with people about what music is good. If it's good to you, it's great, it says something about who you are. And another thing: people actually listen to music differently; for instance, someone told me that some music was good to have sex to. Now if I, personally, am having sex I am not listening to music, and if I am, I am totally distracted and I'm sorry to my partner. IF I HAVE MUSIC ON I am actively concentrating on it, I can't help it. I can sort of drive a car, but I can't have a conversation are you kidding? No one is that smart. I've heard a Love Supreme 100 times and I am just starting to get an idea of what they MIGHT be doing. Even if you put on Louie Louie (not one of my favorite songs) I'm listening with the new knowlege I have picked up since the last time I heard the stupid thing, engineering mostly. And I know most people don't listen like that, why would they, why should they? But music I do, If you're ever listening to my music know that's probably what I'm subconsciously expecting, devoted concentration. The idea of background music is annoying to me, background music is annoying to me, because for me it is actually really bad FOREGROUND music. Torture.
When I try to listen to Brian Eno's Ambient music at low volume like he says to, I strain my ears to hear what he's doing, or just give up and blast it...
I have an unsightly zit on my nose. 46 years old and still suffering from the embarassment of acne.
It takes a while to get out but eventually we're on our way to Brussels. Mike knows how to get there and I'm not much help to begin with, fortunately he knows where we're going. I pull up the directions on the computer and omigod I know it's not going to work, obviously the fucked up output of a computer that doesn't actually live in the real world. It's only about an hour and sure enough, the directions leave us nowhere near where we want, but again Mike seems to have a pretty good idea where we're going: City Center Brussels. Brussels is big though and a little bewildering, we pull over and look at a map when we get near city center but can't find the street; a lady shows us and we get our bearings. Turns out Central Brussels is shaped like a rough pentagon, thats the bearing you need to get. I remember years ago people used to make fun of Brussels and say it was all provincial; not anymore, its big and getting bigger I think it's like one of the EU capitals. It may be THE one but it's hard to discount Paris and Berlin. Carlos says Amsterdam isn't even a million people; it's more the capital of stonedness.
We load right in and this place is slick; high tech, totally nice it's called Ancient Belgique, there's a big room downstairs, we're upstairs in a smaller showcase type place but it is so together, it looks like it was designed for us. And the upstairs load isn't even noticed, there's an elevator, and helpers. We set up and check, the sound and monitor guys are SO TOGETHER Mike fixes a few little things that had gotten out of wack in his bass setup, that's it, I go upstairs to the dressing room to check some emails (there's a computer IN THE DRESSING ROOM), Raul walks, Mike disappears.
Just a short email from Hellin saying she had sent some emails they must have got lost... SURE...been corresponding hurredly with Stephane from What's Wrong with Us, he's great; ideas on everything. Jeff Parker Hi! So I'm feeling all wacked out, it's a daily thing, very repetitive, cyclical same old shit, life's not worth living, kill yourself to avoid the pitiful degrading fate lurking just in the future, talk Hellin into a suicide pact. Last time she said: "forget that, not until we spend all the money in the bank" and I can't do that, I'm trying to save up, so...
...So I go for a little walk, not ambitious at all, but there isn't a couch to lie down and read (club's only shortcoming) and I don't know where ANYONE is; is there dinner? Place like this there must be, or buyout but I'm like, alone in this huge place so I bolt.
I'm pretty scared of getting lost, it was so confusing getting in, and the city is disorienting; TONS of construction, and within the home plate of central Brussels it's all windey cobblestone picturesque old architecture shit. I'm feeling a little touristed out, kid of fried and just going through the motions of seeing the sights, hungry, sort of looking to eat something ineffectively. It's really nice though; I pass an accordian player jamming on "My Way", keep walking and hear a guitar player busting out "Space Oddity" right as I enter a seriously impressive square called Groot Markt or Grand Place. They can't really make up their mind what language they speak here, supposedly in Brussels it's 90% french, but I heard lots of dutch. But the Square is magnificent, a coupla museums, a big church all in a very ornamental style and you know what? It is in a "Brussels style" and I can't for the life of me delineate Spanish, from Italian, from French, From Belgian but they're slightly different epochs and they all have their own flavor. Stephane says it's because each one had an empire at different times, they've all lost it, so they hearken back to their zenith and think they're still important and they don't want to acknowlege the current artistic and military American hegemony. And it did always used to crack me up, the way the Dutch would talk about world history, with them as central figures, which they were, when they were. But EU potentially changes that balance of power a little, if economic war is the fashion, although America has the guns. What does this have to do with architecture? I just wish I was up to the descriptions, it's just impossible for this philistine.
Anyway at this point I'm really hungry, so I finally plunge into a cheap place, order a two Euro cappucino and at the last second, desperately, breaking into a nervous sweat, point to this croissant with melted cheese on it. I sit down and eat it, it's been nuked and is gross, the cappucino is bad too, but I am no longer hungry. I'm pretty much ready to head back to the club, I feel confident now that I wouldn't get lost in Brussels, but it's cold and I just don't have it today.
I get back to the club, there's still nobody around, I find a comfortable table and lie on it, reading the Rome book and fall asleep. I'm awakened by a knock on the door and it's Carlos! Man am I glad to see him. By the way, Carlos is not a Christian Democrat. Did I say he was? He was arguing with Mike on the subject of religeon being involved in government, which it ALWAYS HAS BEEN, but which certain, I believe still mainstream, interpretations of the American constitution ABSOLUTLY PRECLUDE ... anyway it was theoretical and I apologize. We talk for a few minutes, then we look for Mike, I assume he is lying on the floor in the backseat of the van but no! We go back and there he is, and there IS going to be a meal, and we are going to it.
It is so good: Big Fat pieces of rare steak in a peppercorn sauce (SO SORRY VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS I FEEL SHAME) good bread, good salad, good french fries, and an INCREDIBLE Custard or pudding or flan desert thing that was too good to be legal. We scarfed, Raul, Mike Carlos and I plus the crew from the club and I'm feeling pretty calm, a little paranoid around Carlos and Mike, whatever. I keep my paranoia handy at all times. I haven't actually called it paranoia, it might not be.
We have to rush desert a little, because instead of an opening band they are showing "We Jam Econo" the documentarty on the minutemen. I missed just the very beginning and it wasn't ten minutes in till I was getting really upset, knowing the ending. And really it was just totally, totally devastating. See the movie. It was really hard to go on after. People kept coming in, it got more and more crowded, but I thought in a way it was a perfect double bill; a great movie, and it really sets up Mike's Opera twenty years later. Halfway through I had to run upstairs to get the Coltrane, cause I knew it was really important that it start as soon as the movie was over, and that's what happened. And while it was playing we went up onstage and I saw Mike and just had to hug him and tell him what an honor it was to be here doing this with him. Raul and I were both fucked, I don't know about him but I cried like a fucking baby.
Right before we start Mike informs us that this show will be recorded. More heaviness. It's not that big a deal but I know I want to play a little more accurately, I'll sacrifice immediacy for long term integrity. But we do it really good. Mike is very solid, the adjustments he made to his gear helped, there's a few clams, there's been some rythmic wierdness in Beltsandedman that happens again, apparently I'm off rythmically in Pluckin' although I'm not sure exactly how, we can't get in tune on the vocals at the end of pelican man, the organ goes out on Red and Black right at my solo! but I'm sure he has plenty of versions of that and I guess we're going to record it tomorrow too. Great Mike did that, really covering all the bases, great to have. It was the 100 th performance of the opera, our thirty somethingth.
After we hang and talk for a while: the White Circle Crime Club is there, they say Hellin can stay with them in Antwerp if we come so there's more places to stay! I have a talk with a guy named Peter who if I understood correctly teaches metal shop to 14-15 year olds, and a guy Carlos knew named Vau devil or Devil something wierd old cool guy, Later, I to ask Carlos about him and he seems sad and uses the word bitter. As I myself am often bitter, no wonder I thought he seemed like cool guy. We leave the gear and the van and walk down Anspach (?) street to the Sheraton a nice walk carrying all our bags but fun, It's a nice Hotel and we're on the twelth floor, reminds me of the Nina Hagen tour, almost 25 years ago, maybe the last time I was in Brussels but I'm not sure.
Goodnight all. How humbling to play after that movie tonight. May I walk in large shoes to pay tribute to the big feet that wore them before me...
Goodnight my love. I will see you in five days.
pop at seven bells - a return to the continent routine where there's breafast chow served up on tables ala carte and sandwich style. I get the happening bread and stuff my own "meat mountain" and have a bowl of granola-like cereal w/yogurt on it. the metamucil has worked good for me, so glad I brought that and all the other shit I swallow along w/the morning chows this tour - I've yet to be sick and only five more gigs. I've been thinking about gig numbers... tonight in brussels will mark the hundredth time I'm done "the secondman's middle stand" live in its entirety, the first time being w/original secondmen pete and jer at camber sands in england on march 27th of last year. trippy cuz that makes 'pert-near a period of fourteen months of doing it (though not one gig of it from april - august!) and it was over the same amounts that I toured "contemplating the engine room" (though that period covered four tours instead of just two, albeit they were smaller tours). so there's some other parallels besides them both being operas. I never played "...engine room" again and it'll probably be the same for this baby too cuz I just gotta move on - I am driven to create as many works as I can before my time's up.
I go over to raul's room and get his diary stuff to build up into week five's web page and get that all done before it's time to join the karate guys in a cab back to the venue where we played last night. more talk about coltrane - the lewis porter book and the bill cole one. this comes up cuz karate guitarman geoff is giving (or maybe they made some kind of trade) paul a bunch of rock and roll books. we talk about autobiographies (as opposed to bios like the "shaky" neil young one that's part on his donate) and of course there's the mingus "beneath the underdog" ("to understand me is to understand three...") but I also tell geoff to check out the miles davis one (one of the only books I really got on to george hurley to all the way read) and one raymond pettibon turned me onto, the benvenuto cellini one which is a mindblow. we get to the pad and my guys load up the gear (thank you) while I load up the hoot page w/raul's spiel. I get an email from stooges tourboss henry and it looks like the first leg of stooges summer gigs will be one gig each in portugal, spain and france - three gigs in twelve days, a much different kind of touring than w/my hellrides! it's ok though, life is a stage w/many roles to play - to paraphrase senor willie shakes. no wim here to say "danke well" one more time to but some "safe seas" to the karate guys and we're off for brussels.
the weather is very strange, rain and sun taking turns bathing the boat. brussels is only an hour away but all we got is the michellin route calculator web site stuff carlos sent and this proves useless as soon as we get to town cuz the road number designations they call for can't be found by us on any of the signs. it does say the road off goes to evere so we take an offramp that says it'll lead to that town but soon it's much apparent we're not getting to where we need to. tonight we're playing a pad called ancient belgique which is one I've played twice before so I have some idea where it is, like in the heart of brussels. I pull the boat over at a bus stop and look at the map there - I find the street we need which is indeed a big one right downtown. now the the trick is to get to it. I figure w/just follow the signs to "center" and go from there (europe is big on this, having signs on the street directing you to where the city center is). brussels is laid out w/a surface street belt that circles the old town w/a five-sided shape kind not unlike home plate on a baseball field. I get us to this road (they use a flower to symbolize it on the signs) and then pull over a few blocks past a stature of king leopold II (a fucking maniac that had the congo as his personal fiefdom for making money on rubber and killing like half the people there to get it) and there's a more detailed map of the tinytown streets the middle of brussels is made up of - I ask paul to leap out and devise a route. the traff is pretty jammed but I find a spot in front of a 'tel that's got construction going so this space seems ok for a bit. I see a poster for a henry rollins spoken word gig coming up here soon, alright hank. paul comes back w/the plan of just following the home plate perimeter around and it'll turn into the street we need at one point. an ambulance come by w/the siren going - can you imagine trying to get through this plugged shit w/an emergency? what a nightmare gig - my heart goes out to that wheelman. we do a blow-by on one angle of the five-side but I bring her about (on the way back, I see a big van w/"guidos" painted on it and think of telling our italian helperman stefano about "guido" being a less-than-flattering term for italians in some parts of the u.s. - he'd never heard of that and thought that was trippy, couldn't stop laughing - well, I can't stop from laughing about thinking this van here might have it sutffed w/"guidos" like it says. I think my ma would laugh too - notice no apostrophe, it's plural and not possesive) and it turns out this turn has got us where we need - I remember the coca-cola sign on an old building at the end of the block - a silly landmark, I know but earlyage brainwash still has some residue on me. I even remember you load in on a tiny back street and make a starboard right before the venue, putting us in where we need to be after a little wait for some cat who's unloading his truck. we see a funny poster right out paul's window while we stop here - it's for a "naviGAYtion" (their spelling) night and has two shirtless guys w/sailor hats. there's also this flyers stuck up all over that have a checkoff list saying "are you: _ lesbian, _ gay, _ straight, _ bi, _ sick of little boxes?" brussles is the e.u. capitol so you can imagine all the "service oriented" people that come to town and/or work here. I can imagine brussels a "full service" town. I've always love played here though, always. I think the e.u. thing is like when I play in washington d.c. and there's all that federal government stuff but yet there's a great music scene in parallel, a wheel withing a wheel. the same thing w/the disney shit in orlando, florida. humans are weird like that, it's not all as predictable and dour like you might assume - and that's a good thing!
there's a big room and a small room in this venue and our gig is in the little one so we load in there, getting to park right in the back - yes, to have parking available for the performing act, yes! an antidote to one of my major tour hells, merci ancient belgique. one time I was playing the little room here the same night rashid ali and his son amin were playing the big room. what a honor to meet them both - rashid had a turtle shell for a hat (he's the one half of the drum/sax duet for the "interstellar space" album among coltrane's last works where he was the stickman - amin did bass for james blood ulmer on his first records). we do soundcheck w/monitorman marc and soundman vic. vic hips me to the belgian prob w/having people fighting over the two languages used here, flemish and french. he says the best solution would be to teach it all in school: two days a week for flemish, two for french and one for english. he says fighting over which one should dominate is stupid and is only ammunition for far-right idiots to get high and mighty on. I think thomas jefferson knew seven languages and the first elizabeth in england knew like five - it's not a new idea to know more than one. I wish we'd embrace some of that more in our u.s. schools, what's to be so afraid of? might even gain us some other perspectives and only make us stronger, not weaker - the point is being able to communicate so as long as that's kept in mind, let's go for it. anyway, I change my bass strings and check the battery in the bass - both via tools vic lends me - thank you, brother. as I thought, the battery's deader than a doornail - fucking idiot watt! vic gets me a new battery too, thank you again!
tonight there's no opening act but there is a movie being shown before we go on. gigboss kurt tells me it's the "we jam econo" minutemen documentary, whoa. I remember kurt, he was the gigboss when I played here last - seven years ago w/the "...engine room" opera, the last time I saw dutch dude joe from venlo (gert-jan) cuz he was tourboss for come, thalia zedek's band that shared the stage w/us that night. see, my memory isn't completely out the fucking window! well, kind of not... I go hoof around and take some pictures - there's shops w/painted-up figurines w/some incredible detail - incredible prices too, like 200-300 euros! damn. I go to chimp diary in the back of the boat - I figured getting in the back where we hold the gear and locking it from the inside locks all the doors - aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh, I finally figure this out w/just five gigs left! anyway, I chimp until chow time and run into dutch dude carlos and we both go up to the chow pad which is a restaurant run by the venue people. we chow a steak in a peppercorn sauce w/a salad on the side which is really good and talk about people from the old days that are still around and we're glad they're still around cuz they weren't and still aren't phonies. such a treasure to find folks who aren't trying to play people to get whatever they think they need for a life. I've been really lucky finding good people. I love carlos. the talk starts to go to tv shows which I know shit about (except maybe "the prisoner" one from the 60s!) and bail for the boat. I can't watch the minutemen thing cuz it's too heavy on me - it was like that at the premier in pedro back in february. better for me to get some konk cuz tonight's gonna be recorded w/pro tools to a hard disk.
I come up from the boat right before it's time for us to go on and paul tells me he likes playing w/me, I think he saw the minutemen thing and it had some effect on him. raul said it was a heavy thing to watch. I tell my guys to not worry too much about the recording cuz we got another shot at it in amsterdam tomorrow too. I tell them too it's the hundredth time for me doing this piece so maybe d. boon's watching/listening a little different tonight so let's give it our all. in my head I know my guys have been giving it their all this whole tour though, I said that so they wouldn't let the emotion overwhelm them too much from that "we jam econo" movie. all we can do is try as hard as d. boon did which was him giving it his very all. he's the reason I play. we do the piece good, I'm proud of raul and paul. I blow some clams - words ones and bass ones but they don't blow the piece out of the water... what can I say, I get self-conscious when I know that "record" light's on. my guys did great though and I'm much proud of them. I'll try harder tomorrow. the brussels folks are very kind and have us back and I have us do the three fastest tunes cuz I know there's a curfew (we were supposed to go on a nine pm but maybe it was like twenty minutes later when we actually started). going on and doing that after d. boon on film showing the way he was, such a trippy thing in lots of ways. I wanna honor him so much, let people know about him and if they did know, try to never let them forget him. I can imagine him thinking my opera's more crazy extensions of my insane self - god, I wish I could still play w/him. it's hard for me to write about this stuff here. I just miss him so bad, so bad, so dearly.
people come up and talk w/me and they are so kind, so full of being generous w/me. I talk w/an italian guy who lives in luxembourg and tell him of my future plans - he agrees w/me that I need to do more and more works, not just gigs but albums. he tells me to be careful in my 'yak too. there's a cat w/a radio show who wants to call me in pedro, alright. there's a drummer lady and her bass guy who have a band, I let him play the little bass - at first he's shy but I say it's ok, I'm a fucking corndog - no one that special, let's all take turns. gigboss kurt gives me big hugs, his buddy he does music w/took the name "dj big train" from the song I did on "ball-hog..." - big hugs for him too. I see renee, the guy who ran the eindhoven club efanaar when fIREHOSE played there w/the bad brains - dutch dude calros worked there before him, having trouble skinheads so he took up boxing for confidence.
trippy pasts that lead to the current day, we talk about this as we hoof to the 'tel. we get to leave the gear in the venue and the boat in the back for the night. I'm carrying my clothes bag cuz I gotta wash this shirt tonight or it'll be unbearable for carlos in the boat for tomorrow's ride. he's taller than me - like thurston's height and asks to carry the bag but only goes a little bit. I guess I'm in ok shape if I can hang w/it most of the way. well hell, I should cuz it IS my fucking girly bag! we get up to this fancy pad (I'm not impressed) and I wash my shirt up in my room up in the sink. there was a bottle of wine in the dressing room and I have a glass from that and then dump the rest down the toilet. that glass is for my heart - I don't need to get any drunk on.
I think about my next record, back in pedro I'm writing songs for it using one of d. boon's guitars his pop gave me - trippy me doing that, like when I was a young minuteman. d. boon used to think guitar parts I wrote were funny but he never bummed on them, always made them more righteous cuz of his playing. it would take him just one run-through to learn them, the ones I wrote on bass too... he was so amazing at that. I loved writing bass to his tunes - he never once made me do a bass line for his tunes, always let me create one from his guitar part. I sure miss him. I don't think I'll ever stop asking him stuff... time to konk, watt.
tuesday, may 10, 2005 - amsterdam, netherlands
On the walk to the hotel, carlos mentioned hittin' up a museum before we left town, the exibit is called belgium visionaries. Sounds cool, i'm in. In the mourning it ends up being just the two of us. Had some breakfast, and headed to the bozar. It was real close, and we're there in a few minutes. The part of town is familiar, it's were i was lost yesterday. We had two hours, and that was not enough time, there was so much to see, we tried to see it all, it was a visual over load. Lots of different stuff spanning over the last hundred plus years. Tattooed pigs, to turd machines. Some really intense performance art were this guy starts to interview an old women, and out of nowhere starts screamin' at her and pulls a gun on her, she passes out, and he points at her heart medicine on the counter... had to be set up, but what a bastard. Turn of the century feminist art, whole rooms done up collage style... the collections of a pack rat. Silk screened warhol style posters, even an exhibit about some guys buildin' a castle. Just as we had gotten to end, it was almost the two hour mark, and a little bit over by the time we figured out were the bags check is. I couldn't take my bag, carlos says maybe it's because there's a chance i could have spray paint in it. There's been people paintin' over old art in musuems, i guess it's some kinda statement, but i still think it's a pretty dumb one.
Caught a bit of traffic tryin' to leave the city, even though you don't think it will seem so ruff, leaving usually is. On the drive i take lots of pictures out the window, in between reading about keith richard livin' on couches, robbin' folks, the early doings' of the stones. It's alright, but i find it more interesting to read the parts about ike and tina, and how bizzare little richard is. Today is our last ride in the dutch boat and our last day with the equipment. Ireland is next, and whatever is there for us to use, we use. The van did us good, no problems at all, except the tire leak, which led to the problem of not havin' the tire jack to fix it. Nothing drastic that slowed the tour, hats off to that van.
Show just as the hot snakes are finisnin' their check, i didn't even know they're playin', and i've never seen em', so this is cool. We got all the gear out the van, and with it all the fruit peels and sweaty shirts i've left behind. Carlos is gonna return it while we sound check. We're gonna play first, about eight thirty, so to keep it easy, we just set up in front of the snakes stuff. This gig is in the upstairs of the peridiso, the same place bad brains did their live record, watt sayed he played here on the minutemen/flag tour, the building was a lot diffrent, it was all red brick, he said it was brick before, but the whole thing was painted black... that musta been a job blastin' that stuff off. Didn't have too much time before the show, but what time we did have, paul and i spent checkin' out amsterdam. It kinda tripped him out that going to the coffee house wasn't a priority, i'd rather just walk around and see as much of the city as i can. I did make one tourist stop though, besides a gredara sticker i got with a castle on it, i bought the only other souvinier i got during six weeks in europe, an amsterdam snow globe to add to my small collection. Every other block seems to end with a bridge going over a canal, at first we're using em' as land marks, but it proves pointless real quick.
When we get back to the club it seems pretty empty, and we play in about twenty minutes... hallraker. From upstairs, you can see the bigger room down below. I sat in one of the seats and watched the metal band down below do their sound check. It reminds me of going to shows at the palidium, crappy sound. They keep going for it, like there's some way around it, the ceiling is hundreds of feet high, and the room is just ginormous. When i step thru the door to wait by the stage there's a ton more folks, and by the time we start the first song, it's a packed room... suprised me. The show was good, i thought we played things a bit to fast, and that's a weird thing for me to say, but it didn't seem to have a flow, but regardless of that, it was happenin'. Had to laugh, i'm in amsterdam, and the club is filled with hash smoke, it's like when cheech and chong play the whiskey with the dils in up in smoke, well that's what it made me think of. We gotta get the gear off stage quick, so we do only got the time to do the red and the black, and we are time. Dan spartain is gonna do some acoustic songs, then the hot snakes. The guys from pro tone drove up to pick up the gear they rented to us, so that's the last show with this equipment, i liked the drums, i got used to using them, i'm nerveous to see what's gonna happen the last three days in ireland. It was great havin' carlos along too, but tonite we gotta say good bye to him as well. We all spend some time back stage just shootin' the shit, mostly telling tour stories to the pro tone guy. After we help him load the stuff in his boat, he gave us a lift to the hostel, it was close, only three blocks away, but we did have some equiptment left, watt had his bass, i had cymbals, and paul had the keys, that would not be fun to carry that for blocks. Me and paul rode, watt walked. I really only went back to find out exactly where we were stayin', i wanna go back and see the hot snakes. It worked out for the better too, cuz i mentioned walkin' back to the paridiso to watt, he was thinkin' he should check em' out too. We decided that it probably be smarter to just go to the side door and try to get in, less hassle. We went outta the same door that we took to stage, and found our self surrounded by people, we were right in the front, in the best spot in the place. Carlos decided to stay too, so it wasn't good bye earlier, he showed right after we did. He still had the key to the room we were using down stairs, and the fridge was still full of beers. He gave me the key, so went down and grabbed a couple beers and watched the show. Snakes were pretty bad ass, a lot of there songs sound the same in a driving kinda way, sorta the other band the thermals that we played. If it sounds good, go for it. I sometimes like this consistency in bands. Mario's a pounder, he seemed to carry the band, and i'm not drummer biased, he did it with the kick drum, total power. They played forever, maybe it seemed longer than it was on account of their singer blowin' up, not one but two guitar amps,, yeah he played that too. So there were a few longer than pause pauses. After we told the hot snakes safe seas on tour, we hoofed back to the pad and hung out for a bit. We were both into thhat kick drum, and talkin' about that just lead to all kinds of talk about music, and watts a well, so this could go on for days. After an hour or so, we both realize how late it is, and how early we gotta wake up and go to the air port, i tell watt i'll see him in the mornin', and i go up stairs to my room. Had the hardest time findin' the bathroom, turns out my stuffs in front of the door. I didnt find this out until i bolted out side in my underwear about to piss my shorts, i thought maybe the toilet was in the hallway... nope, i came runnin' back in and saw it just in time.
I totally FLAKED on Carlos this morning on the art gallery. Everything was going swimmingly, up at 8:30, down in the Sheraton Breakfast spread by 9. And I mean IN it. I go over and get a few little pastries, some coffee, notice the lox, ooh, gotta get some of that, a tremendous choice of cereals, but before I dip into those...what's that along the far wall? Oh, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, MUSHROOMS and gee, BELGIAN WAFFLES; wouldn't be Brussels if I didn't try those, I walked by a ton of em yesterday. For myself I decide on honey, not being a maple syrup guy; my god what decadence, Carlos watches calmly, claiming to have had "some cheese and fruit" but I just pig out, that's two heavy awesome meals back to back, wow. Later in the day, watching me eat candy, Watt mentions diabetes. Pleasant thought. I think I eat sort of healthy, but not too carefully. Frankly, I'm always hearing conflicting things about what's good for you. My dad's diet, which he's super careful about (Supplements like crazy but red meat like crazy too and coffee like I've never seen) ain't by some books and he's 73 and could kick my ass.
Could that have something to do with me backing out of the Art Gallery after I told Carlos and Raul to count me in? Didn't even cross my mind, but hmm, coulda been fat and lazy. But I was thinking, I was up late diarying, I feel so very tired, we're recording again tomorrow, I gotta be fresh, I had other good reasons but listing them now it sounds like I was just a lazy pig. In contrast, Watt passes by our table as we're sitting there with his bags, he has checked out and is going to the van making the long walk by himself to hang out for the next four hours. He says it's not his kind of place, he feels caged. I don't feel caged at all. I feel like I want to rest in that nice bed, sleep, read, that seems like taking care of myself, no? Defensive a little?
So I do, Carlos and Raul head off and the next three and a half hours is a fog of ancient Rome (reading Rubicon by Tom Holland). They come back at 12:30, Carlos has some confusion getting back up to my room but sorts it out as he always does and we walk to the A.B. (the cool name for the Ancient Belgique which is a great advertisement for funding for the arts. It's so different here. State monies going to make the best venue money can buy, and it must close to pay for itself after initial outlay, I dunno. In the car we're talking about the medical systems in America and Holland, It's foreign to Carlos, he doesn't get it. But yes people do work the system and sue doctors and yes doctors pay a fortune for insurance against it and medical school and yes the system is so completely FUCKED UP in America, but England sounded bad too.Let's be serious and simplify. We SPEND ALOT OF OUR MONEY ON WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND WARS AND ARMIES ETC ETC ETC it is the fucking priority to the American government and I guess the majority of the citizens. Does it have to be that way? OF COURSE NOT. Is it good that it's that way? Ahhh, now you reach the limit of my ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE. Because people in charge obviously or apparently know something I don't because if I know everything I would say based on my ACTUAL knowledge....ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS? And how do pharmacudical companies fit in, and how do insurance companies fit in? Are they the equivalent of two nation states in a violent economic war, or are they allies, sucking the life and money out of the people using their fear of death and poor health to achieve their aims? Or are they two gigantic four dimensional beasts, bezerkers, self perpetuating, hideous Shelob slime monsters in a death grip devouring their OWN BODIES? Or are they the noble fruits of our capitalist system, flawed but doing their best to serve the people and turn a profit? And where does the Govt. fit in? Is it now nothing but a lackey to creatures like the miltitary industrial establishment, the insurance companies, the pharmacutical conglomerates, the farm lobby, the World Bank, etc etc etc.
I have no fucking idea. All of the above?
We load the gear out of the AB, somewhat lost in it's catacombs. This will be our LAST DRIVE in our noble Diks voor Huur blue van. The incredible sewing machine has done it's work carrying us***** (see Mike's diary, probably) miles.
We drive, Mike and Carlos talk, I'm fairly quiet, dipping into Shakey the biography of Neil Young, as usual completely obesessed with the futility of life and the terminal exhaustion which doesn't seem to want to let me go. Three and a half years ago, when I stopped all drugs and alcohol, I knew it might take a while to put together my shattered psyche. Oohhh that sounded dramatic. I'm just waiting it out. I had really only shot for living until Feb 19, 2001 and had no contingency plan, or reserves of any kind after that date. So this is all a cool experiment of living on after the goal there and I'm greatful for the shot. Alot of the time I feel really great. It's just some comedy to let you in on the sick twisted brain damaged stuff that everybody gets sometimes. And I'm probably going to acheive some fucking enlightenment pretty soon, so watch out!
But in the meantime, it's like this: Mike talks about operating systems and I feel panicky and fearful. Mike talks about Insurance and getting sick and I just want to end it now. The conversation turns to our careers and I'm pretty sure I don't have one. We drive by some logshoreman, and they talk about how tough it must be, and I think that I may be doing something similar soon, and just was last year, and am often LUCKY enough to find work like that so I can go irresponsibly be a musician in Europe BUT I DON"T WANT TO DO IT that kind of work, DON'T WANNA. I consider this to be sick, unacceptable, defeated thinking and let me reiterate again and AGAIN I give it NO RESPECT. If your life makes you nervous DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. It's your fucking life, no ones gonna do it for you.
But I do need serious help.
Carlos gets us to the club, the famous Paradiso of Amsterdam right on time. It's another REALLY together, high functioning rock club, a little more rock than AB with a big 2500 maybe capacity hall which will be showcasing a selection of bands of the metal variety, like Agresion (that's how it was spelled back stage, probably wrong, I'm pretty sure they're American maybe from San Diego? Let me just state here that the kind of metal that was going on in the other room is this intense aberation, kinda like a pharmacudical company only of the arts, and therefor of a positive nature by my inconsiquential judgement. What I mean is, it doesn't seem like human beings should be able to master all that sonic power and fury and unleash it at will like that. It has taken 50 years to evolve and it is a fucking mutant let me tell you. Bow down before it, it lives, it breathes and it doesn't give a fuck what I think. Downstairs in our dressing room, it felt like Godzilla had Mothra by the neck and the death throes were going to bring down the building. Fucking cool. Not my thing. Am Old. Ancient. One foot in deaths door. Long live rocknroll.
Our little band is going to go on at 8 so it's super early. We're in a maybe 2-300 capacity upstairs room, everything is super together, the sound is good, should be great. Raul and I have time to walk around so we hit the Amsterdam streets. I have been sniffling a little and as we walk I feel the flu hit in full fury...aching muscles, exhaustion, sinus pain in the eye. It's GNARLY!!! I try to just observe how I'm feeling and it's intense, the body just clenched to do battle, churning stomach, lots of muscles screaming!
Cool, I know it probably won't really affect the show, I've done so many shows sick, alot of times the show will knock the sickness out. But I don't want to sitesee, I feel Raul straining at the bit to photograph grafitti and I feel myself moving slower and slower. We walk by a store and Raul says:"You haven't done any of your shopping have you?" MY shopping? Yeah, I should get stuff. T shirts about weed. I look around the store terrified but resolved. I know I'll get something bad, I know my kids and Jeff will be disappointed, but I get three shirts, drop 50 euros fatalistically thinking that maybe one of them will like one of the shirts and if not I tried.
Amsterdam. Four and five story buildings lining canals. Tons of bicycles. Lots of people with dreads, oh maybe I imagined that, it becomes a blur as I just try to make it back to the club. I was gonna give Raul money so he can go to a hash bar, whoops I mean coffee shop, after the show but I've just spent all my money. Sorry.
We make it to the club and I collapse downstairs, the worst of the cramps and pain is running up my back, I'm starting to feel chills, my SKIN hurts to the touch. I want to hang with Carlos because this is the last day we'll see him. He has RETURNED THE VAN. We are vanless.
I remember to get the Coltrane up there around 7:30, there's not a soul in the club... ahhh don't be silly. I make it downstairs, and I want to PLAY BAD; music is the only thing that will help.
We go on. We play pretty great. A little low key for the recording, Mike's bummed about that, because you want to give the people in front your all. I tell him, yeah, but this is posterity, gigs disappear in the sands of time or some shit, but we'll have to live with this for a long time. He dimisses that as a bunch of crap and it probably is. He didn't say bunch of crap. It's midnight now and I'm deleriously trying to write this, freezing in the hotel room, eyes like little redhot coals, back a twisted locked up cramp. I soldiered through these entries, yay for me, I'd rather write the same day so I can remember the experience cause my memory fades SO QUICK it's unbelievable.
Someone is going to read this, and know EXACTLY what's wrong with me. By being honest, maybe I'll get the help I need. Or maybe I'm just a fucking asshole, believe me I think that often, but I believe somewhere there's even a cure for that.
Loading out of the club. Eric from Protones. Here to pick up Gear. Hi. Gives us ride to hotel. Thanks. Try to carry bags and keyboard, think the end may finally befall. See no angels. See no Devils. Raul will go back to club, wanna come? Bye Raul.
Can't write more. Goodnight Family. Hellin I love you so much. Boys to carry on genetic soup. Love you so. No rush though. Bed calling. Can't believe I wrote all this, I'm a man. It's only ten to twelve. Drank orange juice. Before.
pop at seven bells and get downstairs for a huge shoveling setup they got here but resist all cooked/greasy chow. not that it's like an english "full breakfast" w/all the goodness lots of fried stuff can bring you (no disrespect) but I'm feeling like getting it on w/the broojes (sandwich) trough. big staffs of bread for cutting yourself, I'll have eaten more bread this euro tour in six weeks than I will in my pedro town in a whole year. I think I've already mentioned how I've scissored most starchy carbs in my u.s. shovel habits... well, I can't resist w/the goodness/wholeness and also forethought in knowing I'll be cutting it once I'm home. it's not just the no pedaling/paddling that's making feeling somewhat belled - it's this bread/cheese thing I'm sending on down the word hole as well. dutch dude carlos had said to join him and my guys in the lobby for some museum journey but my knees are aching and I don't know about maybe three straight hours of walking. it's at this point in the tour where they're really tested. "a man's gotta know his limitations" to quote the man in the movie (your guess). I love spending time w/carlos and looking at art is always a potential mindblow but I gotta go w/my gut here and be calm on putting heaviness on these fucked-up knees. I mean I don't wanna sound like I'm complaining cuz I'm very grateful I can walk (both of my knee surgeries in my early twenties had fifty-fifty chances that I'd end up stiff-legged and unable to bend my knees at all), I'm just kind of torn but to be honest w/myself for why I'm here (to deliver the piece and play my best for the europe cats) and put that up there as a priority. so I go back to my room after shovelling - oh, there was a "herald-tribune" paper on a table (this one is so much better than that shit-terrible "usa today") and I read some things in there, like ghengis kahn getting his image rehabilitated (seems most of what we know was written by his enemies) but the article still admits he might've killed forty million w/his wars. what was really intense for me was finding out he's got millions of descendents, like one out of twenty of the population. that's trippy to comprehend. there was a story about russia celebrating beating the nazis, maybe the kremlin boss there using that (our fed gov executive branch boss was there visiting him, picture of each trading kisses w/each other's wives) to be sad over empire losses due to soviet crumble? let it go, please. another story about germans having a memorial for ww-II era killed jews over the bunker of nazi propaganda minister goebbels. the stories that get picked for the paper. in the "usa today" rag, you get updates on the tv show "american idol" but somehow that kind of thing is missing here. marketing ploy or what? who runs the village? be seeing you...
completely cloudless blue sky w/total sunshine for my walk back to the boat at the back of last night's venue. kind of a hoof and a little more intense cuz of the girly bag slung on my shoulder but I take my time. a few blocks on my way, carlos comes running up and says one pm at the boat is when we'll meet. good, I can chimp diary and get yesterday done before we bail for amsterdam. there's a funny "western" shop on the way I look at - lots of cowboy boots in the window, two life-sized carved wooden indians out front and lots of kitsch this way throughout. I know belgium is known for it's beer (especially the trapiste kind) and last night carlos also told me for chocolate - much more than what we think is swiss domain (maybe they have better u.s. marketing?). in fact, a cat at the hasselt gig told me he have belgium chocolate for me at tonight's gig in the 'dam (as ron asheton calls it). what makes me think of this is walking past the hugest chocolate store, there must be a ton or two worth inside it, crimony. kira's the hugest fan of chocolate I know but man, have I seen her brother (paul) on this tour put down everything sweet he can get his hands on, especially candy bars in bowls at lots of the gigs backstage and fiending on coffee all sugared-up. even he makes jokes about this. not much into when I get the sour gummi things going though he did do the rest of those ouefs (gummi fried egg candies) when he did his wheel shit in france. damn, this is a tangent... the wheel thing though makes me think about today being our last ride in the boat, my last time at the wheel 'til I get back in pedro cuz for these last three gigs in ireland, we're being driven around. last gig tonight to for the rented gear cuz protone eric is bringing it back to utrecht. some kind of chapters turning then, huh? a tour's not done 'til I'm back in pedro though so there's a few more chapters to come. I go in the back and chimp up in my diary but forgot to charge the 'puter last night (idiot watt) so I gotta move to the backseat bench up front. I liked so being in the back w/out windows, a virtual tour womb and what was neat too was all the raindrop pounds - I guess that blue sky disappeared big time into rainclouds cuz there was much pounding while I chimped, making it a good counterpoint to my fingers doing their own kind of pounds. I finish and walk down some tiny streets, finding a kebap pad and getting "mexicanos" which means a deep fried falafel like brick in a tortilla w/cabbage and corn - trippy. I wait to chow it 'til I get to the boat and stuff it w/those habaneros I got from ian back in england. I get my heart pumping some. my guys and carlos appear and we load up the boat one last time. looks like using my bass for a wedge to keep things tight has put cracks in the corners but no matter cuz that was really needed to reduce a loadshift that could've really made things a nightmare. if I have to, I'll get another - maybe there's more modern ones that can protect my bass just as good but cut down on it's sixty-plus pound weight (the bass itself is only like seven pounds).
we get on the "home plate" road and I wheel us towards the autoweg (carlos tells me that's the dutch way to what are interstates to us). we head north to antwerp and then into holland, where we parallel construction on the highspeed train line that will hook up amsterdam w/paris, via brussels. pretty intense. it used to be you could tell where belgium ended and holland started cuz of street lights going down the middle of the autoweg but that's no more. what's really close to the border is these giant windmills - there's some very old school ones too (carlos says they're used as houses) but these new ones are like the huge ones we saw at the tour's beginning in germany. there's some traff plug cuz of the construction but carlos says not to worry - one reason I leave early for gigs is to make sure I don't worry, even if unexpected crap comes up (maybe expecting it?) and the parking thing can be easier too as well as making for a "pad for wander" factored in. we stop to fuel the boat one more time (you do that when returning rentals - I take this opportunity to show carlos there was no jack even though he finds a card in the glove box saying this was checked for and was supposed to be on board). my guys don't clean the windows w/this last stop even though a squeegie's in a bucket by the pump. they do get themselves candy bars though. I told them I'd put that in the diary so here you go. both of them are soon filled w/contrition. hey, it's ok - I'm just yanking on the chain a little. we talk about medical stuff some - getting covered for it in the u.s. (I have had it for three years now, waiting 'til I fully recovered from the illness this piece is about to get it - the musicians union helped out. the medical bills for that illness too just got paid off by me finally last summer - I didn't regret paying a cent cuz those folks saved my life but man, did it learn me about having medical insurance). I think this is a big issue for u.s. folks, to my mind it's kind of a defense issue even - a good way to defend the country is to keep it healthy, I think.
carlos directs me (he's not afraid to be in the navigator seat this ride like he was in italy) into amsterdam and we start crossing some bridges over canals - there's eightyeight of them here I'm told so it's pretty hard not to. I point out the amsterdam "logo" - three x marks on black, white and red flag - the three x thing is on horse posts too. carlos says amsterdam is a town always under construction and he's so right. we get to the paradiso only a little after five - not late by much. I tell him he cut it close, ribbing him some. I first played this pad in 1983 w/the minutemen, opening for black flag. it was intense, we had to stand down some idiot nazi saluters who were trying to spook us or whatever after running off the first band (mugger's nig-heist). I've played here since a w/fIREHOSE, the black gang (w/joe baiza and bob lee) and even dos (dos did a little holland-belgium tour around 1990 - shit, it insane I can't rember the date better... I do remember us doing it by train, using amps provided by each venue and carrying only our basses). we quickly do a soundcheck w/soundman michael in the same upstairs room I did the black gang and dos gigs - downstairs in the big room has the nardcore band agression featuring only one member from the original band. we're actually opening up for a band from san diego (about 120 miles south of pedro) called the white snakes w/a guy named dan santrain from birmingham, alabama playing in between us. during soundcheck, I discover some sounds I've been hearing for a few gigs now - you know how I've been chewing on this, try to figure it out... well, it's definitely in the amp - it's got a low end hum that's there even w/out my bass plugged into it and it really gets bad when I use the heavy distortion for "beltsandedman" or the compressor pedal for the couple of solos I got. this is all started maybe in scotland - guess she took all she could from me but I swear I wasn't that abusive. tonight's being recorded though not to a multitrack like last night and instead mixed right down to a two track - not too flexible but it'll be a document. in a way, I wish I wasn't told about these recordings so I could play a lot less self-conscious... I chimped this yesterday, how I clam up when I know the recording's light on but especially more in a way in front of people cuz I want the gig good for them and not just a recital. oh well, the other thing is both gigs are for carlos and I always want to make him proud. he's gone now to return the boat - I go hoof on the leidseplein for some chow and find a falafel pad. trippy, I get a pita w/four hummus biscuits cooked up in it and ask for some chili - they tell me to go to this salad bar thing and I find all kinds of stuff, from marinated olives to chili, onions, cabbage, carrot and I fill the pocket to the brim. I start hoofing and take a bite and damn if the olives haven't been pitted! I spill the bright red chili all over my yellow coat, aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggghhhh. I get back to the club and wash my coat in a sink in the head. time to go in a few minutes, carlos comes back from dropping the boat off at the rental pad and does the tour accounting w/me which takes only a little bit cuz we both jam econo and there's not a lot of stuff to go over. good man carlos, I love him. I talk w/gigboss jan-willum, I know him from all the gigs I've done here and it's so good to see him again - lots of smiles from both of us.
we do the piece and I like the sound. there's a little feedback at first but soundman michael gets that out quick. I'm a little weirded out cuz of knowing we're being recorded and screw up some words. I don't blow it too bad but charge hard - it's the last time I get to play this thing for carlos and want to really try and do good. I think we do really good, one of my more favorite gigs of the tour. there's that low-end hum from my shit again, especially when I use distortion. oh well. I still like our gig and when we finish the bizarre thing the piece must be for people, they're kind enough to bring us back. we do the b.o.c. tune, "corona" and then we're off. I will no bogart any time from either dan santrain or the hot snakes. back downstairs and protone eric comes down to say hi - he saw the piece and thought it was strange... I think it's good he got to see what was being played through his gear. he's gonna bring it back to utrecht and has offered to give raul and paul a lift to the 'tel so we don't have shlep our own stuff - the girly bags, keyboard, drum stuff and my bass (I got the pedal board inside my bag). we talk some, he's cool people and has a sharp mind and is really funny.
no room in eric's boat for me so I hoof - the 'tel is only a little ways away anyway, mabe five blocks worth of hoofing. I stop at the bulldog on the way - funny it's in an old police building, "politebureau no. 14" - I get some purple haze mota downstairs in the coffee shop by pressing a button that lights up a menu and the man at the desk asks for twelve euros. I get to the 'tel and eric's out there w/his boat, raul and paul getting our stuff in. I give eric most the mota cuz I only want a little. me and raul decide to get back to the paradiso and the hatch is right at the side of the stage so we watch them from there. I dig it, getting a vibe like from that great portland band the wipers. I really REALLY dig their first three albums big time. anyway, the hot snakes are having problems w/a blown-up amp but do good in spite of it. they got a great drummer and great guitar interaction - bassy too has a neat thing the way he hangs out and then comes on in, pumping away. it's the first gig of their euro tour, I hope it goes good for them. carlos even gets to see some before he has to get back to rotterdam but I'll see him again in spain at the end of the month (he'll be there w/sonic youth at the primavera festival). big hugs for carlos.
I talk w/the hot snakes guys for a bit - man, they know a lot about the old days and even minutemen stuff. it's getting late and I'm sore so me and raul walk back to the 'tel and talk a little more. I like talking w/him and wish I could do it better but tiredness has a beatdown on me and it's hard to muster strength. konk time for watt. I'm sure raul got out the hatch before he got bathed w/snores. hope so, anyway cuz I can't tell you. when konks on me, I go down like a ton of bricks.
wednesday, may 11, 2005 - belfast, northern ireland
Woke up early, and went down to have some food, watt and the house cat were already down there, had a big bowl of mixed cereal. While waitin' for the cab, i sat out front of the place and took some pictures of all the folk ridin' their bikes to work. It's too bad pedro mornings don't look like this, it's lots of cars insted, and old ladies waitin' on the bus, the only people who you see ridin' bikes are the poor folks, and the decked out yups riding thousand dollar cycles, most everybody in the middle drives, car=status. Cabbie comes, and drives us to the air port. He was cool, a sax player, he was bummed on music, cuz his guy he had played with forever had died in the past year, he tried, he said,to quit music all together, but it kept drawing him back, and luckily he couldn't do it, but he also couldn't find players he was into, so that's a shitter. That's stuff you hear all the time, that's it's hard to find people, i guess i've just been real lucky. After checkin' the bags, it didn't seem like the wait was too long, and we're on the plane towards ireland. Sat right next to the wing at a window seat, it's scary, if anything goes wrong on my side, i'll be the first to see it. I read most the flight, the wacky adventures of the stones, and time went by pretty fast.
We've been luckly with all the border crossings, so of course the last one has to be a problem. Our work permits didn't go thru yet, and with out those we can't play legally in belfast, hell we can't even cross at all, maybe we can skip the the gig and go straight to dublin... nope, they say we gotta fly back to amsterdam, and catch another plane to go to dublin, that would suck. After some sweatin' and waitin', the papers show up in the system, and we get to pass...damn that was close. In the airport there's a crazy lookin' poster of a rabid dog and cat, totally foamin' at the mouth, and i wanted to take a picture of it, but watt says that just be shitty thinkin', no way, cameras in the port, bad idea. I was lucky that nobody even saw me pull it out. Waitin' for us, but just about ready to leave was derick, he's gonna be driving us thru ireland in his van. It's a travel vehicle for two, with a little kitchen table that matches the curtains, in the middle of the van. One more stop before the gig, we got to get paul an amplifier, no more leslie. That goes good, no leslie, but hey, it's better than nothin'. I thought we where gonna go to the club, but we still one more stop, we're gonna go to the promoters place to drop off our bags and kill time with some coffee. Pete's not home yet, but sinead is, and she's super nice to us, and within' five minutes, she has a coffee and a bunch of stuff out for us to eat. Shortly after, pete shows. He's equally as hospitable as sinead, their both real cool. Hang out for an hour out in the back yard smoking and drinkin' coffee, getting to know derick, seems a good guy. He's from portland, and has been in ireland for the past six years, i'm sure the locals can tell, but judging by his accent, i would of guessed he was born here... trippy.
Gear is waitin' for us when we get to the club, it's the opening bands stuff. For me, all is good, the gear that is, except for one important thing, the head on the floor tom is busted in. Only thing i can do is hope for another band, we did find one in the closet of the club, but that one had the same deal going on. It's weird using somthing new, you just not used to it, and in this case you have no time to get uesd to it. It's a good thing i brought a bigger trap case, it fit more than just cymbals. I had also brought along an extra seat, an extra pedal, and stand extensions. I haden't used any of this all tour, but i'm so glad i lugged em' across europe the past five weeks, cuz tonite i'll need all of it. After settin' up and sound check, which took awhile. It was long for me, cuz i had to set everything up, i had smartened up about the third day, and marked all the pro tone stuff to where i needed it to be, plus i was tryin to stall for another floor to show up. It never does, so we do the check without it and go across the street and have some excellent indian food.
With the hour that we have before the show, paul and i spend it walkin' off dinner in down town belfast. These are usually the times that we have our best conversations, i dig paul, he can be funny as hell sometimes, pretty interesting too. We made it back just in time to watch the first band hit the note of the last song, maybe next time. Second band is up, pretty bad ass, not what i expected. I was thinkin' more like skate punk, but these guys and girl had a way more off the wall style, but still driving rock and roll. Singer had that style of talkin' and screamin' instead of a rhyming singing. Tricky drummin', and this guy had the smallest kit ever, it's also the one i'm using. The rack tom was so small, the drum was as wide as my palm, i could grab it around the whole rim, sure i'll be missin' that one lots tonight, this guy hit it everytime. I've never seen any one look so happy to be playin' the bass, until i met ana, she had a hugh smile on her face the whole set. They were great.
Time for us, that last band left me a little intimidated, they got the crowd all worked up, i hope i can deliver. The set was okay, for me just alright, i wasn't feelin' it, the sound was just so diffrent with the new gear, unfortunately i couldn't get over it. We played everything right, it just felt diffrent, i was also intimidated by being in a new country, damn, i'm a weirdo. When it was all over i felt a little better, confidence a little low, but nothin' that won't change in the next hour. There was a little party in the back, and mike was in the john doing an interview, a little quiter in there. Finally the club security gave us the boot, staff wanted to get out and go home, and all of us hangin' out was the only thing stoppin' em'.
Got back to petes, and shot the shit with him derick and watt, paul had already found a bed. After, i washed some cloths in the sink and got in touch with my ma and kid kevin, to make sure he'd be at the port saturday to pick us up. Stayed up late doing mail, and didn't get to sleep till about four. It's weird, i can be tired before a gig, but after i play it's like i got another nights sleep, and i'm ready to go for another day. Must be the adreniline kickin'.
Anyday could be last for tour diaries. Power cord on Mac is frizzing out.
OK so I was kinda faking with the delerium in the last entries. So? I really did feel like shit though; my bed was by the radiator, I turned it all the way up and lay shivering and sweating and when I woke up I was pretty sure I was going to have to kill myself when I got back to America, but the fever or whatever it was seemed to have broken. I'm sorry to have to report such lame shit but it's interesting, later I may graph out the mood swings to try to get some kind of pattern, so let's just say it's for me.
I eat a bowl of granola with a very friendly cat that seems to run the little old hotel called La Boheme, then the vancab is there to take us to the airport for Ireland. That's pretty exciting. The cabbie is a sax player who had put together a studio with his best friend and then his friend died of a heart attack. We get pulled over on the way to the airport by a cop because he has the wrong plates and it's awesome to listen to them talk in dutch, The cabbie says :"Ik vindt het vervelend" which means "I find it annoying" In other words, yeah it's annoying that I have the wrong plates but you're going to let me go. It works though, I wish I could explain how hilarious Dutch people talk it's like this: Duchy people how talky hilarious could explainy to you I wishy.
I know the diaries are getting boring. Only a few more days.
Airport, check in without incident: to the gate 3 hours before boarding. That's the way we do it. Arrive Ireland. Big Incident. No work permits, the lady actually dangles the possibility of returning to Holland. We just sit there for a while, hoping for the best. I figure the papers are in process and she'll find 'em and that's what happens. By the time we get out our bags are the only ones left on the stationary carousel and Derek and Darrin are there to meet us with a big red van. Our overweight was 500 Euros. Ouch.
The first stop is to get a keyboard amp. A Leslie it turns out has not been specifically requested which is fucked, cause these guys are great and would have dug one up somehow I think with notice, as it is I'm gonna just have to deal. I get some kind of thing and we proceed over to Pete's house where we'll be staying.
We pass through the streets of Belfast and it's pretty nondescript to me. I have to admit, most of what I've ever heard about it is about war and unrest and the guys do mention as we cross a bridge that it's the sight of a yearly parade slash confrontation between Protestants and Catholics. I somehow get the idiotic idea of playing up the violence in American cities, I don't know what I'm thinking sorta : "it's OK guys we kill each other over there too"...what I was actually feeling and fumblingly trying to express was compassion. I don't think anyone was offended, thank god.
Anyway, I do see signs for magical townnames: Ulster, Carrickfergus. We wind up into some cute brick tract housing and pull over in front of Pete's house. He is the promoter and he isn't there yet but his sweet wife Sinnead is there, making us coffee and different chocolate treats. We move in, make ourselves comfortable, and once again I wind up in a beautiful bedroom upstairs. We sit around for a while talking and I feel a great sense of well being, I love Ireland, I love the Irish even though there's really nothing I can point to that's making me feel this way, maybe they're just so nice. One of the guys from Belfast, Darrin says everyone is always depressed here cause of the weather, but Derrek from Dublin chimes in that he's never been depressed and nothing bad has ever realy happened to him. That's fantastic.
Pete shows up and we seem to have a nice comfortable rapport. Mike is keeping a low profile, when he's feeling sociable I tend to fade into the background and isolate that's an interesting phenomena, part of it is ego based, but part of it is being a good soldier. No one seems to be in too much of a rush, and we head over to the club around quarter to six.
And guess what? It's a real honest to god Northern Irish Pub: Auntie Annies. We're upstairs but there's lots of help and alot less gear so it's totally painless. We set up to find out what's the bad news about our sound and well, I think it's pretty bad. Keyboard, bass and drums is tough to pull off in Rocknroll; we had enough componants in place where it was a well oiled machine, but it starts squeeking now. The organ sounds ok by itself but once we start playing, the physical presence of the Leslie is really missed, plus stuff I used to do with my feet, now I'll have to do with my hands. It's could be pretty scary but I'm not going to let it get to me, it's a technical problem that I should be able to somehow make work I have a keyboard, I have an amp, just wail. But I spend a while trying to get the most out of it; I have Jonathan the soundguy take a direct line and a microphone and split them right/left to get a little stereo going; it's the kind of trick I would use in the studio but I have no idea if it works here, Jonathan says it does.
We go across the street for dinner with Pete and Derek, who is our driver, a tall guy from Portland with sideburns who's been here long enough to pick up a bit of brogue. Is that what you call it. And dinner is great Indian food spicey and tasty and just right. A guy comes up to the table and has Mike sign it seems like his entire catalogue. After Raul and I walk off some of the food, there's a little grafitti, we see a few nice old buildings and churches and a few new hotels, but it's really not a garden spot as far as I can tell; the natives call it a shithole although it seems like once you get out of Belfast most of the rest of Ireland is beautiful. Still, I'm feeling good.
We head back and Sinnead is working the door, she reading Da Vinci Ciode, I tell her about Holy Blood Holy Grail, she's never heard of it, but later Pete shows up and she had given it to him for a gift! I feel like we get along great, there such a great couple. While we're shooting the breeze I miss the first band completely, go in, not much backstage, park in front to catch the next one.
Lafaro totally rocks, young three piece with shredding yet interesting modern punk I guess hard to describe. John the guitarist plays a telly through an Orange amp and it sounds great, Anna the bassist with a unique Mondrian tattoo sounds very muscular and the drummer is over the top. The sound starts glomming into this powerful beast and I'm lost trying to figure out how you'd record the sound AS IT IS rather that how it would wind up in the studio. Anyway I thoroughly enjoy them. Apparently, I find out later, they're not always that great, they're just evolving, that was a selfdiscovery show for them maybe.
Before we go on I meet a guy named Lee who's been reading the tour diaries! What a great feeling to meet someone who's read them and instead of being repulsed seems friendly! He's totally nice, concerned (ha! that's the running joke, anyone who's read the diaries asks me if I'm OK...I LOVE YOU THANK YOU FOR CARING I WILL BE FINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and he gives me a vegan cookbook that has a bunch of stuff about the Belfast scene that he contributed to! After I meet the author Liamm.
The club isn't totally packed, but crowded, seems like a younger crowd than we usually get and later a girl tells me that a lot of the artier people couldn't go, I didn't catch the reason, backstage brogue. We jump up to play and it's a real character builder for me, Mike tells me I'm too loud and it becomes a matter of if I can hear myself I'm fucking up and blasting. So I just mime and smile and try to have a good time, and command the set to the lap of the gods. Oohh it's tough. Mike doesn't look too happy, although he starts lightening up as the show goes on, which, guess what? is how the peice is composed. It's not a silent crowd either, there's yammer, kids picking up on each other, drinkers drinking, talkers talking. But we survive. Raul is very frustrated though, I didn't even mention that he's going through all kinds of shit with his gear too, as is Mike probably, but at the end of the set Raul is actually pissed, I've never seen him angry that I can think of in three months, that's how sweet he is. And we talked about not saying anything except our own experience in the diaries yesterday but I can't help it, it was a shocker! Sorry Raul. I love you, you have my permission to get pissed off once every three months.
It's hard to walk offstage after a show like that and receive congratulations graciously; I want to say: "no!" but I don't want to spoil their experience and I don't want to lie. Everyone wants to hang out, it feels like a little scene it's cool, everyone I talk to, I want to talk to more. But soon we must go.
I ride back with Pete and try to get in the driver's seat (wrong side!!!) and we have a great talk, is it the Irish? Back at their little house, I hang with them a little while, I want to longer, but I also have to do some of the diary chore...I don't get much done before I'm dead and fall into the nice soft bed. Hellin is just days away. Lee said he skips the stuff where I'm writing to Hellin respecting our privacy. I told him there's maybe one thing in the world I can share with people and that's how to completely love another human being. Got me thinking right away how clingy and smothering I am. So yet again I need to temper trumpeting my "WISDOM." I can't wait to see you Hellin!!! XOXOXOXOXOXOP
eight bells for pop on this last one for this continent... three gigs left and they're all in ireland - first the north part so we gotta fly to belfast. there's some chow at the 'tel desk here, sandwich stuff and a soft-boiled egg for me w/some coff - whoa, there's a cat checking things out in his domain and damn, if he ain't looking like a cousin of my man cat, the one who had me for fourteen years - he passed from brain cancer the summer before the illness wailed on me. I miss him so much, he was such a good dear compadre to me. a good man, the man - never felt judged by him, he was always there for me. how many times was I bawling my eyes and pets on him on purr rubs from him on me calmed my silly shit down? he was truly righteous. every silver tabby gives me thoughts of him, I think somehow it must be a cousin someway - no matter how distant. this 'tel had showers somewhere other than in the room I was in so I'm showerless this morning, not being able to find it. the head was in another room too but I did find that.
I ask the desk man to get us a minivan cab cuz of the big stuff we gotta carry, the organ keyboard and my bass. the cab driver takes us to the schipol airport - where we came to europe to start this tour thirtyeight days ago. this cab driver plays sax and wants to go to any town and try whatever might happen cuz the cat he'd been music w/many years just dropped dead from a heart attack at only fortyeight. damn. I wish him luck and we go to the easy jet terminal, the airline we're taking cuz dutch dude carlos got tickets for the three of us totaling just over a hundred euros. we got too much weight though and it's gonna be another 468 euros so forget about the flights being that econo. how else can we get to our gig? consider it a "toll" then, huh? I chimp diary during the hour and a half it takes to get to belfast but there's some problems at the passport control. I was given a fax of the work permit for the republic of ireland but northern ireland is in the united kingdom so this is why I kind of freaked and let carlos know of some potential issues a few days ago when I noticed the english work permits we used last week ran out may seventh. carlos was told the republic of ireland would work but in my head I thought this was insane and sure enough, this lady behind her podium says "do you have a permit to work in the u.k., yes or no?" she asks for us to produce our tickets for the flight home from dublin for saturday. I have a bravo (plan b) though, I had carlos ask london/atp gigboss barry to get try somehow and expedite a new permit and he said the ministry in charge of such things would notify belfast so this is what I relate to the officer. we're told to sit down, we're told we might be flying back to amsterdam - ok, ok. not a long while later, another lady says the work permits have indeed been issued/approved and it was in fact just done today. whew. thank you very much. our stuff is the only things on a stopped carousel in a very empty terminal. so glad no one helped themselves to a donate. we make our way to "street access" and I'm wondering where raul is? he's behind, taking pictures - aaaaahhhh, never use a camera in a border situation - never! he didn't mean anything, he didn't know but luckily no one is around at all. derrek, the cat who's gonna drive us around these three days in ireland and darren, a cat who helps the gigboss for this show, peter come are there to pick us up - much, much relief... same for them, it appears.
first we gotta get the keyboard amp. we're in derrick's camper van (a talbot, I think that's a name pugeot markets their vehicles in england under) that has be done up w/a bed. stove - the works but it's no modern r.v. kind of thing and instead very old school, it's cool. derrick's from portland originally and married an irish girl years ago and moved to dublin. he's a drummer too and a bright cat to talk w/so I do - one of the roads we take is this one "orangemen" do their march on, we go over the bridge where there' the confrontation between these protestant guys wanna go through catholic parts to celebrate winning a battle many years ago. it's confrontation, for sure. I think everyone's heard of "the troubles" (what they call it here), the problems of northern ireland. darren says it's calmer now as far as a lot of the violence though the parliament for here's broke. to be physically where you've only had images is a trippy thing on me, always has. it's not like everything's figured out cuz of that but just different. it means a lot for me to meet the people who are behind images - not celebrity ones, I don't mean those. I'm talking about things I absorb in shallow ways... they are shallow, I have to admit this. a person w/flesh and blood has a story.
we go to pete's and him and his wife sinead are very cool people. we spend a little time there (we'll be konking there later) and then go to the venue, auntie annies. jonathan is the soundman and we get together the equipment we're provided w/tonight. by coincidence, I got the same amp as I used in europe, an ashedown but only one 4x10 cab. it's ok, I put it up on two stools. paul's gotta use a "keyboard amp" - one 15" speaker and a horn, no leslie for him tonight. pete mazich's keyboard has a simulator built into it's synth circuitry to fake some spin out of it though. raul's got a prob w/the drum kit cuz the floor tom head is popped out of it's rim but one of the opening bands comes to the rescue. I've nailed down all my noise probs to the power supply I got in hasselt - it might be the fifty cycles they use over here instead of the sixty we use in the u.s. anyway, gigboss pete goes and gets me some nine volt batteries - much thanks. after check, we go across the street and shovel indian chow, I have their hottest lamb curry, scooping it w/the nan bread wich I love much. it ain't hot like I'm used to but I can dig it - good, good flavor. everyone goes back but I walk around some, checking things out. a little beat up around here but people are laughing and living their lives, not looking too dour. I go to get back in the pad and the doorman says I can't come in "w/those sneakers on" and I tell him I'm playing tonight, pointing to a poster that's been put up. he let's me in... thank you, sir. I truly don't want to make any problems. I go up the stairs and by the door find a padded bench and chimp some diary, getting in some konk w/the get the yesterday's recollections in.
I'm woken up by the first band, local cats called los cabros. I like them, they got a wailer of a singer. up next is another local band called la faro who wake me up out of another konk I slipped in. maybe it's not driving (so trippy not to be wheeling the boat to the gig - instead being wheeled to it!) that's put a weirdness in my rhythm. I like these guys too, excellent slashing guitar. our turn next. I take all my pedals out of it's "pedal dachau" pedal board and hook them up w/them directly on the deck. you gotta keep them unplugged or the batteries will run down dead. we do the piece and man, is the sound bad on stage - no monitors and a low-mid feedback that will not quit the entire time. it sounds like it's on paul's organ but I can't really tell. he's playing good and so is raul - I love it that my guys aren't whining or going only half-way cuz of the gear sitch. it's admirable and I'm proud to serve w/them. the envelope filter's not working at all, don't know why so "pissbags..." is missing it's "tubing" sound, oh well. the whole trip is pretty challenging and I think the piece itself is too much for some folks (whatever the sound) but I do dig the gig. I keep my nerve even for the most part. I make up for all the clams of the last two gigs spiel-delivery by getting them all 'pert-near right, the "recording pressure" off. damn, I gotta get better at that. I get pretty sweaty cuz I'm really throwing what I got into it. one thing I fucked up on was not hooking up the tuner and in "pelicanman" it's pretty apparent the little bass is flat. shit. the folks bring us back but before we do some more I tell raul to give the folks a look and not be all distracted when we finish and I say his name cuz I know his heart he really appreciates people being nice to us but it'd be happening if he could maybe acknowledge it a little. it's not a scolding but rather something for him to think about. it's funny cuz he give lots of good eye connect w/folks when we're doing the gig itself. we go back on and do the three fastest tunes we have been in the later half of the tour. it's is late, like one in the morning.
much respect to the belfast cats. lots of them come and talk w/me, want some big sweaty bear hugs - well yes, ok! I sign one man named ian's bass and he gives me his "special wrist band" he wears when he plays. there's a cat who tells me about getting a plastic alto sax like ornette coleman, how he's "starting his own band" w/himself in his room, going wild w/music. well fucking right on! yeah, I can dig that. I do an interview w/a man named james while sitting on a toilet seat (their heads can be just little broom closet jobs where the hatch opens up and the commode's right there) cuz I can't find a chair. he asks me good stuff cuz he knows lots about the old days, this blows my mind about so many young people knowing these kind of things. it inspires me much - I really gotta get to know more about the newer scenes. thurston's great at that, he's always in touch - not on a hipster level (he thinks that's bullshit) but on a knowledge/zeitgeist one. amazing how many younger folks from these days knows about the minutemen or fIRHOSE or even the "...engine room" - one cat who says he saw me play in arizona after we got done tonight and I just had to hand my bass over to him and let him play some licks - of course he could play, everyone plays these days.
we pack what we brought up and follow paul to his pad. he gives me a glass of "taddy porter" as we sit around his living room spieling about stuff. he's cool peeps, much like lots of the folks I've had the honor of meeting this euro tour but of course in an irish way which means a little more spiel than maybe most cuz I've found irish cats really have a knack for that art (the art of "spiel" - in the yiddish sense). it's a joy hearing them work the english language their way. they can sure speak their mind too, it's much inspiring. after a while, the spiel gets "spelt" and everyone leave me here in the living room to konk which I pretty much immediately do.
thursday, may 12, 2005 - dublin, ireland
Woke up to sinead being as hospitable as the day before, she had fruit, some milk and cereal out, and was makin' the crew eggs and coffee. I skiped the eggs, and just had some cereal, and two big cups of the best coffee, she uses the press like i do back at home, this really is the best way to drink the stuff. On the way outta town, we had to drop the amp paul used back off, then sinead took us to check out some murals. We said our good byes to sinead, pete had already went to work, then we were out towards dublin. Today was the last day that i could use pounds, didn't have any bills, just a bunch of change in the bottom of my bag, but when i counted it, it was over ten pounds. I don't know when i'll be in england, hopefully sooner than later, but it would be good to get rid of the money, while i still can.
I've been in the back now for two days, and there's curtains over the small windows, so it's harder to see just what were passing thru, but from what i can see, it's irish country side and lots of sheeps... get thet rubber boots. For not liking the rolling stones biogrophy that much, i sure have been spending lots of time reading it. Like i'm trying to finish just so i don't hafta read it any more... brian jones was a big dick, i always thought of him as the sweet quite guy, and he was the one pisssing in hotel rooms and hittin' his girl.
Dublin is a lot bigger than i had thought, it looks pretty crowed. More mall type streets with more things to buy, more american than i imagined. We still got some gear to get, but derick drops us off at the club first, with the gear we got and goes back across town to get the rest of the stuff, more room, so it makes sense. Using the other bands gear again, it's a nail biter. Paul already got a leslie delivered before we had even showed up, but no bass amp or drums. Met the drummer from the first band, willy. He's lived in new orleans before, so we got some peeps in commen. He also tells me that doug from the can kickers is in town... rad. The last time i saw doug was back in pedro right before i left. His band came to town and stayed at our place. Played a killer show on fourteenth, and the next day we took em' all over l.a., and hollywood so they could play in the street for gas money. They made a few bucks on hollywood blvd., they had to compete with spider man and shit like that, but htey did have mothers and kids dancin', so it was a sucess. After the sun went down, we all went to bed pan park on sunset, met a bunch of friends and had a show right on the island in between the streets, The traffic was so fast and loud, people couldn't hear a thing unless they walked by, plus there were no amps, so it probably just looked like a hobo convention. When you think about, it sorta was. Twenty or so punk rockers and general weirdos gathered in a park playin' music taking slugs and passin' around jugs of wine, total ho down, and damn good fun. So it'll be great to see doug again.
Insted of eating greasy bar food, i opt for the buy out, and ask were the local punk record store is, if i'm gonna buy something in town, i should try to get it back to a good place. Well, willy has the store, and if he's here than it's probably closed, and of course it is, most the shops close at six he says. I still go out walkin' anyway. I ask a local if maybe he knows were a record store is, sure i do, terror records, jus right down the street. Sounds under ground enough, terror, i'm into it. Turns out, dude was just sayin' tower, but with the accent, it sounds like terror... jokes on me. Unfortunally, i went in anyway, hypocrite, i have twenty euro and one more day in europe. I ended up getting jonathen richmans self titled with enough money left over for a hoogie.
I did make in back in time for willys band, but missed em' cuz i was out front talikin' with timo, the promoter. When i left, he told me if i really like stoner rock, don't miss it. I guess i know for sure know that i really don't like stoner rock, i like hendrix though, but i don't think that's stoner rock. When i think of stoner rock, i think of bad grunge, like alice in chains or some crap like that. they didn't sound like that. I do catch the second band, estel. Tons of keyboards, it was like prog joy division, lots of changes, some real creepy melodies.
As i'm settin' up, doug finally shows, it's sometimes great seeing a familiar face in a far away place, some times it's not, the world starts feeling to small and you feel followed, like some ones crampin' your style, atleast for me. Well, seeing doug isn't like that at all. He offers to get me a beer, i'm right in the middle of setting up, a little busy, but after, for sure. Packed house, lots of people, and a good gig, aside from the awful sound on stage. I had the leslie right behind me, and i still couldn't hear it. I don't think the sound guy liked us, he was being a tripper from the start, whatever, people seemed to get a good sound, and they seemed pretty into it, i felt way better about playin' the night before. After the gig there was a disco, so within' five minutes rock the casbah was blastin' at ten. It was still packed, so i just stayed in one place hangin' with doug and his dublin crew, if the boys needed to find me, they knew were i was. After about an hour, i started to wonder were everybody was, and when i went to the indoor outdoor smokin' section. Watt was out there talkin' to a big group of people, great, cuz i'm not even close to being ready to go, i hate packed bars, but i've met so many rad folks, i'm havin' a great time. Paul had already split with derick, but timo said he'd take care of us, and make sure we didn't get stranded and back to dericks.
Back at the pad there's a little get together, watt and the bass player from dericks band are riffin' on james joyce, there talkin' so fast and devo is so loud, it's hard to keep up, but they both seem so excited. I passed out right were i was sittin', one minute i'm hangin' out drinkin' a beer, the next i'm wakin' up and the house is super quite and everyone's gone. I went to more comfortable spot on the couch and went back to sleep.
Belfast isn't Ireland. Sorry. Belfast is ENGLAND. You've got to watch it here. People used to die for that shit. This is Northern Ireland. Ulster it might be called. Ulster isn't a town I'm pretty sure. People get along better now.
Two days ago, I noticed a zipper on the big clothes bag I've been lugging around and wondered if there was anything in there. Crossed my mind Hellin or me or the kids could have stashed something incriminating in there years ago, although customs would have found it by now. So I unzip it and damned if it ain't one of those extenders you pull out that makes dragging the bag such a joy. I've been wanting to take the bag with me ever since. Now how can I have carried that bag for fiveandahalf weeks withoutfiguring something like that out? I'm supposed to be smart. I think I'm smart. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
I bought this MP3 player right before we left. It's a nifty little thing, I think it does stuff, I mean it comes with a CD of software to install in your computer to do stuff with it. I brought the manual, I figured I'd read up and see what it does, master it. Never did. Thing gets turned on in my bag all the time accidentally; I think it shuts itself off automatically...
So what. But this stuff starts snowballing in my head when I'm walking around by myself in Dublin. My head feels crammed and exhausted, just wants to play and rest, forever. Y'know when I'm by myself I start spinning sometimes. Thank you all. I guess you are my salvation. When you talk to me, kindly, interested at a show, I feel myself light up, I feel the smile on my face that wasn't there all day. Like Hellin, you all do that for me too, you are antidote and medicine and battery. I really love you all.
My first chore of the day is to finish yesterday, which I start in on at around 9 and finish by 10? Foggy, coffeeless then go down and Sinnead has once again taken care of us, eggs, cereal, toast. It's a beautiful day, the soon be fallowin' oos.
Pete left early this morning promising to email me and to come to the show in Myrtleville day after tomorrow. Sinnead is going with us to help us drop off rental gear and show us some murals that Lee suggested we check out, I guess thinking of Raul and his grafitti passion. And so we do. I suspected the mural might not really apply, and I don't think they do, but they are cool, celtic knotwork around scenes from the ancient past...druidic even. And then we say g'bye to Sinnead; she doesn't seem quite as sure about Myrtleville as Pete was.
Can't really see that much from the back of the van, there's a table, pictures on the wall, but our backs are to the windows which have red checkerboard curtains. I try to settle in for a while, peruse the Stones book, which looks good, the author is in the story and I like him. Raul is diarying but when he's done I want to give him the book right back because he's in the middle of it. The scenery is plain freeway fair, green, flat then hills but more of the same and I'm fading. Sorry, I clear out a spot in the back and sleep till the outskirts of Dublin.
We're a little behind, some traffic but no sweat. We get to Whelans, a two story....IRISH PUB in Upper Camden street and load in our meagre goods, what's left of our proud gear. Reinforcements are on the way though...there's a Leslie and it's a beauty. None of the other gear is there yet, but I'm feeling confident and relieved. I go out for a little walk down the block till the gear gets here and I like it. Coffee shops, a definite plus, I have a mocha and walk down Camden; I don't really know where I am or where I'm going but I see a green dome and head for that. It's all four story buildings, the architecture is brick and very nondescript; a store on every ground floor: an internet cafe, juice bar, different businesses, a little music store, lots of pubs. Lots. There's seems to be a motif of black shiny storefronts with gold script. I cross a canal sorta disguised as a stream or small river, a little green along the sides; make the dome and head back. In a way I'm disappointed but I'm also starting to get a feeling this place is really cool, it's not about fancy ancient architecture at all, something else.
Back, check. The Leslie rules, the drums do not. Poor Raul is suffering a little, two nights in a row. Is he OK? I've never seen him anything but boyant. Maybe sad about end of tour? God smile on him thy will be done. Other bands are here to check, duh, we're kinda using their gear, except the Leslie is a rental. I'm starting to feel like an expensive luxury. I ask the soundman, Noel, how his shit works. I was thinking, 40 shows, I could have learned so much if I would have hung out with the soundman every night and studied...how do you send to your gates, what's the EQ on that tom? Teach me the compressers and limiters. But I wait till the next to last show.
Raul, Derek and I head for food, Mike ate. First we hit a coupla record/book stores and I pick up Sylvia Plaths Journals and scare the fuck out of myself, you might imagine why. I was never a fan, never read her poetry, just know she killed herself. So I leaf through, I'm thinking, I wonder what she sounds like just journaling, like my diaries? Bingo. But Fuck You, I won't kill myself. But similar moaning, very similar issues, ego problems that she FUCKING RECOGNIZES, spooky. I didn't read the whole story, so I don't know what pushed her over, I know she had some breakdowns, I just read a little, don't worry guys, don't worry. I'm a tough motherfucker and I have a support system firmly in place.
Raul asked a kid on the street if there were any cool record stores and the kid says yeah there's Terror and Raul thinks that's going to be good but the kid meant TOWER! So we hang in Terror for a while and then Derrek and I head for food. We wind up getting a very tasty kabob and eating back at the club. There's lots of people in the sort of posh backstage, not really posh but there's something about this Irish Pub thing, they seem to have it really down and the place isn't really decayed. It's like we've been drinking here for a hundred years, we'll drink here another hundred.
I head down to catch the first band but they're a pretty metal affair and I decide not to get stuck in the stage room quite yet. It's bitchin, there's an upstairs balcony, but I don't think they've opened it; a nice room. I head back out past the bar where there's a big wooden guy bellied up, maybe some kind of Irish joke, but I could see getting in a conversation with him if you're wasted enough. Outside is big Lee from last night and I'm happy to see him, glad he drove down, his friend Niall is there too. Lee seems like such a sweet gentle guy, at first I thought he was just worried about me from reading the tour diaries but now I see he's like that all the time. And while I'm standing outside, no less than THREE OTHER PEOPLE say they read the tour diaries too! How gratifying and frightening.
At some point I meet Tara, Derek's wife. We're going to be staying at their house she's sweet and really pretty; also Timmo the promoter, longhaired and bearded, funny and fun to be around and everybody super fuckn Irish. Estel is the band right before us; they've gone on now and Raul and I stand right in front for them; they've got a couple of keyboard players, kinda prog instrumental, nice original sounding washes of sound; songs with lots of parts.
The pub is packed. Smokers have to go outside like California. We set up quick and I feel really confident, I have a Leslie, I know I'm gonna be all over it. And I think I am.
I don't know why we have fucking feedback in every single set, it's so ridiculous, we're only three fucking people but it happens again tonight which is a little annoying. I guess the feedbacks are all monitor, they usually don't go out over the house or it would drive everyone as crazy as it drives us, but I just blow it off and pretty much rock. It seems like it's a bit if a drunken yammering Irish Pub kind of drinking crowd, only Tara says later she's never heard a crowd get so quiet, and it's true; they really did get with the piece by those last couple of tunes.
Later: Home. The power cord for the computer went. Since , mm, oh around Liverpool, the cord was doing a light show flashing sparks when I would plug it in sometimes, amazingly, it made it all the way to Dublin. But at last it bites the big one, I jiggle and jiggle but no. So now I'm home trying to remember the last day, all immersed and emmeshed in the insanity of my life. But already I've had ideas for two new songs.
Ive already screamed at everyone in my house, gone out to lunch and been the delightful raconteur full of myself and scintillating. So colorful and beautiful you could puke.
Back to Dublin: I don't remember where I left off. I was really pleased about the show. The Leslie they rented me sounded different, shriller, but it was a Leslie, a great Leslie like a piece of beautiful cabinetry and truthfully the Leslie I had for the whole tour sounded completely different every night depending on the room and the stage. That is really unreal. The crowd was great; the beautiful old pub like a piece of history. And I don't care what they say in the history books, seems like alot of the history of England and Ireland is people drinking in places like this. We pack up and Raul and Mike disappear into the crowd surrounded, talking animatedly. I drift around unable to connect, one more time the odd man out in every situation. I land backstage with Timmo and Tara and a circle of some other people smoking hash and drinking, eyeing suspiciously as I pass on the joints over and over. Not really, but the Irish do look a little alarmed when you say you don't drink and sort of edge away from you immediatly. Not to prolong a stereotype, and granted this observation is made from within a series of pubs, but the drinking has an air of religeous fervor at times. Passion one might say. And no one is any drunker than usual, or acting out of line at all, it's just a great joy in the process.
So I sit upstairs not even a third wheel, more like up around six or seven, listening to a conversation and understanding every other word, joining in welcomed but somewhat extraterrestrial. Once in a while I go down and try to circulate, unaccustomed 'cause usually we make a quick exit, Raul and Mike in a smoking area packed in. Upstairs, Tara makes leaving noises I think gauging whether I'm ready and since I'm unable to have any kind of fun or interact on any meaningful or meaningless level I quickly assent to that. I don't know if she actually wants to go, she does say she has to work early but doesn't seem in to much of a hurry. Derek has left with the gear, so we're on our own, either catch a cab with Tara or Timmo will arrange something. Mike and Raul will be staying so it's just me Tara and a friend of hers cabbing to her house and getting there around two I guess.
It's one of those rows of brick houses all connected, I guess in California they'd be condos, but old. Derek and some friends are in the living room, they show me a bedroom upstairs where I dump my bags. I go downstairs but I don't have anything to say and can't follow them so I go back upstairs and diary till the power cord dies.
The next day Raul is talking about the after-show hang-out and I felt like I'd really missed out on a lot of fun. Whatever, that's not exactly it. I felt like the wall of isolation that surrounds me had stolen a unique night of my life that I would never have a chance to recover. That I had missed Dublin.
pop at seven bells and find I didn't konk alone but driverman derek was out himself up on the couch across the room. silly watt. sinead is soon up and has chow going in the kitchen. wow, some righteous strawberries - I have them w/yogurt. I talk about flowers and how much I love them but at the same I'm thinking about this tour spiel stuff, the act of doing a diary. you know, I think these things tell you more about the writer than the tour they're writing about. hopefully those who read that so maybe this life isn't either aggrandized to nth degree or brought small and shallow by the attempts of those trying to come to grips w/its accounting. in fact, I think IT'S MORE ABOUT WHAT THE WRITER WANTS YOU TO THINK OF THEM though that might be telling in some ways an actual "true" confessional would be about. this goes for watt too - I bring this up cuz I was reading some of paul's spiel and the guy is so competitive w/me sometimes, saying the boat didn't get free from the curb cuz of those boards put under - that's crazy, even if one did fly out (I told them to stand clear), it gave me traction to get an angle going on the wheel w/the curb to bust us free... the stuff about what victoria built in brighton - that was for her prince albert, she wasn't even born yet when the george he was talking about was alive... he's fouled up so many "facts" - dates wrong, context skewed and history stuff mixed up which is ok and human but maybe it's not such a good idea to try and leverage that into the rivalry game he's tried to get going w/me on this tour. how many times have I told him "let it go, paul" - the best example I've tried to give him is when we did the crimony duet and I followed his lead totally, writing only one tune and trying to learn as much as I could from the experience. I guess it's his nature and for me what a small thing to divert energy on but the reason I'm even mentioning it here in my chimpings is so folks maybe will get a perspective. last xmas I gave my friend raymond pettibon this book, "the assassin's cloak" by alan and irene taylor which has illustrated this point of people using diaries and personal letters they know will get into posterity to somehow get a hedge in death on personal rivalries they got going during their lives. it's 'pert-near to the level of vendetta actually. actually, it's pretty powerful stuff and who knows, maybe it's what's fueling the writing in the first place - that and just a tiny bit of self-aggrandizing. "it's all about me" - I know all three of us are writing here and I much appreciate that cuz it gives a good twirl on the whole chimping sphere but why don't I get that from raul's writing? I will say though that these spiel are pretty reflective of my guys' personas in ways maybe they can't realize - again, I'd say they're writing more about themselves than the tour... maybe it's cuz raul's not trying so hard to "make a case" and in that way things appear much more "natural" or whatever - I can actually say I'm on the same tour he is where w/paul, it seems like he's in a whole other world, playing gigs in way different towns w/a band that's got members I have no idea who they are or what they're like. I've sensed this from the beginning but am writing about it only now cuz well, shit - I feel compelled to. me and d. boon used to laugh about how skewed my sense of some history we had shared and then each related in a spiel was. maybe the writer has the least control in the matter and it's the reader who holds the power cards. I think this is how it should be cuz the writer (I like "chimper" better) is compelled to march their crazy goosestep as dictated by their persona and seem powerless to their own conceit, they can't even let the profound power of phenomena interrupt the agenda of their neediness. it's 'pert-near the reader's duty to step back and go "wait a minute" (no, they don't have to lift their arm in a fascist salute) and take in a deep breath of perspective cuz that where any "liberty" actually seems to be in my opinon. you take it for what it's worth - that's the real power. the chimper is helpless to defend him/herself afrom him/herself. "pull-toy" as george hurley said in "mister robot's holy orders" a long time ago. "pull the strings" as bella lagosi said in "glen or glenda" even before that. we must chimp what we chimp but we can take w/a grain of salt what we read (thank god). like the pop group said in "we are time":
we'll kill the word
maybe what we read into what gets read tells something about us too. man, when I trip on how insane I was to think "proud mary" was so much more than just about a steam boat named the "proud mary" - but then maybe that's what songs are supposed to be about, transcending reality. same w/these tour spiels then, let it "transcend" whatever and be unto themselves something hopefully a little bit empowering - even to the point of in doing so, you have to indict these so-called "witnesses" for their own hubris. for myself, I want you to know I'm 'pert-near counting on it. this is not a call for total contempt for anyone who dares gets expressive but rather to just try and keep it perspective. we are truly a funny form of creature.
I am a bass wreslter w/two gigs left on my 55th tour. two more times to do an opera I wrote about a sickness that 'pert-near killed me but ended up being about an idiot who lives in pedro, finding himself a punk rocker in his middle years. I am in ireland for these last two times doing it - doing it w/two guys I never wrote it for, playing it for people who probably have no idea they're having such a thing foisted on them. it's been like this all tour but I reflect a little on it now. don't worry, I have faith in "working the room" and want everyone involved to learn something somehow. that goes for the dork on bass as well. let me try to remind you that may mean that some on one side of the stage might learn what a shitty opera writer that bass player is or those on the other side might be learning what a shitty band skipper he is. or they might first think those things and then maybe change their minds or... maybe vice versa - I don't know cuz it's beyond me and therefore, I have to let it go. what I can try is to do my best or like the creedence song john fogerty wrote said: "goin' up around the bend" - don't know exactly what's up around there but man, am I driven to make that trip. it's just what I gotta do at this point in my life.
out of my head and into derek's campervan. second time now I'm not at the wheel as we shove off for the day's run but it's ok, this young man drerek is a good cat and I listen to him much tell me about his years now among the irish, his life in his new homeland. could watt leave his pedro town for another one, let alone another country? just the thought of it makes me realize how scared I'd be so much respect for this man derek. it makes me think of bob lee coming all the way from lambertville, new jersey to the val in so cal to do music. courageous men. we follow sinead to some housing proj to look at some murals on our way south. they're huge and painted on the side of these buildings people live in, displaying irish heritage: gaelic/celtic images, writings and symbols that are fairly explicit. if a boot comes down in one way, things gotta come out another - seems a natural reaction. later today, the dublin bossgig timo will tell me how intense it must be to come up in a situation where you have to pick sides. I think of joyce and the "citizen" episode of "ulysses" cuz maybe the universal actuality is really there's never just "two" sides - everyone in a way is an "outsider" if we look deep down and are forced to admit it. the games we all appear to play to try and deny that, huh? I'm told the murals in derry are more intense - one w /a soldier w/a battering ram, steamrolling a young girl. I think about d. boon - like in "corona" he says "the people will survive" - amen. we need to get it together.
on the motorway south to dublin, we cross the border into the republic of ireland and there's not much of a way to tell except for some money exchange pads and the gas prices at the stations are in euros instead of pounds. of course, this is through a foreigners eyes w/how many moments in both these lands? of course w/my kind of job, I need open borders, open minds, tolerance - all that so you might say I'm biased (whoa, there's an irony somewhere int that maybe). it's only a few hours to dublin and a bunch of that is the plug we meet getting into town. we're playing a pad called whelan's where a lot of folks have played, they got a big history. you know why ireland's the emerald island? it's green cuz of all the rain but we luck out w/much calli-like sun, alright! there's two opening bands, both locals - one called oak and one called estel and the estel one is letting us use their equipment. all these cats are nice folks. for bass sound, I got one 15" speaker in a cab driven by a peavey amp I've never seen before but it seems like a modern version of the old peavey 400 I had in the "paranoid time" days of the minutemen (actually, I think I used that up to "what makes a man start fires?" though my speaker cabinet had two 15" speakers). raul says he'll do ok w/what he's be leant and paul has a leslie speaker for his organ. I go across the street to get some more batteries to run this fucking pedal dachau - so glad when I'll soon be pedal free. we do our soundcheck w/soundman noel and then I watch the band estel's check. whoa! I did not expect this. they play like a seven minute or whatever tune w/like twenty parts - what a trip. it's instrumental but they're young people, not fogies from the 70s. it's really neat, I'm surprised and I dig it. you can tell they're keying off the drummer but there's two keyboards and they're a really big part of the sound. the guitarman has a sonic youth type a thing about him but it doesn't steer the band that way. I don't why I think but it seems the lady on organ is the meister though she's really understated, no heavy direction but the music is weaved w/her stuff. everyone's really represented well in their sound though, a good driving bass underneath - he's playing much louder than I am but it's his amp and I'd feel like the biggest dick if I blew his shit up. the oak band is pretty neat too but soundman noel is kind of heavy on them w/the volume and they feel intimidated. maybe that's why estel brought their own cat.
the gigboss timo is a legend in his own right, my irish buddy nez sent me a book of early irish scene stuff and he's in there. he's a good cat and I'm honored to be working for him. he gets me some kind of india-type curry chow from next door and we talk about stuff. I already mentioned his take on stuff in the north but he relates something else to me that's trippy - that pad we played in belfast was close down some years ago cuz of weapons or something being stowed there, something to do w/"the troubles" (that's what the sectarian violence is called by the people there). I'm glad there's gigs going on now instead! he expresses some contempt for that immigration lady who threatened to throw us out at the airport, saying he checked w/government people and we were not in the wrong. it was good atpman barry had a bravo (plan b) for us though. rivalries on so many levels, damn. the estel drummer andrew comes in and talks w/me, knowing tons about the old days - I find out he's got a record store so maybe that's why but I've found this doesn't have to be the case. in belfast last night I must've singed 'pert-near ten or whatever records I've made for one guy who was just a listener. just a listener? what am I saying. that cat was a sweetheart. it's all the fabric of the scene I've been fortunate to be let into. much respect to all the open-minded folks. I chimp diary while still talking w/timo, who's got great stories - I love the way instead of saying "alright" or "ok" he uses "fair play" to acknowledge you. that's a neat angle.
it's a good crowd, our turn to play and we deliver the piece. I really get into it. the lights are up close on us and it's gets sweaty for me fast but so what, it's a good sweat. joyce, an innovator of "stream of conscious" writing has left quite a mark on me and this is his town so I am moved such that way, I can't help it. you know, some things just gets in your fabric from you immersing yourself so in it. books are weird but I'm maybe weirder, the way I'm taken so. here I am doing this pedro-centric piece and yet thinking about my following in the steps of bloom and dedalus last year when I came for bloomsday. I guess both stories (theirs and mine) are journeys but where would mine be w/out thier's coming first, maybe I wouldn't have one? I think of my minutemen tunes before I read "ulysses" - those little tunes that were like flashes of thought. d. boon told me our songs should have a "beginning, middle and end" but I think I was more capable of that w/music rather than words - finding my own voice that way was a difficult thing. reading literature certainly helped me out w/that - especially that book, "one life is many days - the sun rises, the sun sets." anyway, here we are in dublin and my mind is going through those phases of the hellride, healing and pluckin'/pedalin/paddlin' infinte wonderin' paradise. there's some really longhaired guys up front very much into it - shorthaired ones too but for some reason, the longhairs catch my attention. it is quite a bunch of attention from these dublin folks, much respect to them - especially for such a weird piece. like all the audiences I've done this for that hear it out, I owe them much. it is a noodleball but just something I have to do now and for people to be that open-hearted w/their time, big time respect to them. we get done and we're a sweaty mess on the side of the stage and I thank my guys... really, I don't holler at them at the end of every gig like some might be led to suppose but there has been occasions but believe you me, those were just musical/performance kind of things burning right in the moment of my mind and nothing personal, truly. it's funny how you might not get notified of the congrats I lay on my guys so let me say it to you here. what's trippy though is how at the same time I'm going "good job," they're thinking they stunk it up big time. such is the human experience of existence, huh? there really is no objective superset to stand on high from. so be it. I thought my guys did good though. we go back on and encore it up - no more dylan, no more verde and no more roky... I don't know, I just don't feel it do now w/this version of the secondmen - definitely I think it was for an earlier incarnation. don't know if that means it's totally right or wrong but it's my call - it's not even about the "room" or the "moment" even, I just don't feel we should do it. hope that don't sound weird but then again, I am weird. sorry. I spend a lot of time w/the audience, folk - hey there's the cat who spoke w/me from the irish times, chris. I talked to him from that francesca and paulo castle in gradara, italy. man, that seem ages ago instead of just three weeks. tour does trippy shit w/time. good to meet the man w/the great questions on the phone. I've been so lucky w/the cats who choose to spiel w/me and maybe that's why - they choose to do it, they chose me. much respect to them.
not much to pack up, that's the case w/these irish gigs since all I got is that little bass and the stupid fucking pedal dachau board. after signing/spieling a bunch, I get those things up in a few minutes and then spiel my way out into the bar area cuz the band room part is turning disco. I see anto, my dear virgil-guide who led me on my bloomsday trek last year w/buddy nez but I'm at a loss to talk w/him, sort of due to these young cats talking all kinds of things w/me, especially about books but some music too. actually, all kinds of stuff and groups of different folks, 'pert-near taking shifts w/spieling w/me as I'm slowly moved into the open part where smoking's allowed. man, it must be like an hour and half worth but I seemed to notice cuz I'm in full motion and the knowledge in my head of just one more gig left so I can be a little liberal w/the energy expending. there's someone from the u.s. w/some irish friends - again, they know so much about the scene but on the other hand, there's cats who know barely anything about me, just happening on to where I'm at and still they're all just as interesting. irish are good spielers, big time but then it seems folks connected w/oddball art things have a perspective quite individual and interesting to have laid on you. again, much resepct. timo gathers me and raul (I think paul already bailed) and takes us to driverman derek's pad - he's a dubliner. derek said timo had a 'tel lined up but offered up his pad quite generously and why not save timo some bones? no prob. derek's in a band called moutful (sic) and his bassman tommy's here in the living room, saying he's got parents that talk just like the cats in the meat eater episode of "ulysses" and he wishes I could meet them. so do I. he said this way I could know that book is all as intellectual as some have made but I've known that since I started eating its words up in my early twenties - hell, I'm a sailor's son. great talking about that stuff, it keeps me lit even after all of what's gone down (maybe 180,000 words "spelt" tonight?!) but to the deck I am w/mask making its way down into konk mode. derek and his wife tara bring out the blankies, one's a righteous multicolor one that I really dig. I think raul konked right on the deck next to me cuz I heard a thump of a body collapsing. good night, sailor.
friday, may 13, 2005 - myrtleville, ireland
I must of been cold last night, cuz when i woke up, both my hands were inside my sweatshirt, i rolled off the couch and couldn't break my fall. Felt confused, but was still able to brush my teeth, and grab a shave. Walked down the street for the english breakfast, but changed my mind when we got there, while the dudes ate i went down to the liquor store and got some coffee, it was still to early to eat, i was tryin' to wake up. On they way back to dericks we stopped by joyces' child hood home. After, got the gear outta the house, and headed south for the last gig in myrtelville. What was supposed to take at the most, four hours, ended up takin over six. Stopped at an old castle. It was great to be able to do somehing like this on the last day of tour. We walked a back path up to the entrance, and took the personal tour, payed five euro, and walked around wherever we wanted. Pretyy epic, and the wind helped... it was on top of a big enough hill to see for miles and miles in every direction. It seemed that most the grounds were auctually a cemetary, moss covered grave markers everywhere. Some just blocks buried flat in the ground, and some five feet towards the sky. Along the walls facing west, were these little slits for the archers to shoot arrows thru, looking in these, you could see more ruins in the distance.
Hit masssive amounts of traffic on the way to cork, not by any fault of ours eiither. Ther was no by pass for any of the small towns along the way, so we had to drive thru the main st. of all these places, and so did everybody else. It took atleast two hours to go twenty miles. The promoter would call to find out where we were, and call back an hour later, and we'd only gone ten miles, it was packed. I felt for derick, all i had to do was read. Finally cork. It kinda reminded me of downtown dublin, but smaller. We were gonna meet the promoter in front of city hall, so he could show us the way out to the sea side where we'll be playin', got a little lost tryin' to find him. Myrtleville is miles outta town, twisting country roads. The place is a little tavern, up a small paved trail, it's a minute walk to the water. Since we have time, we're the only band playin', while the suns still up, go check out the atlantic. Later i found out that the sun will be out until half past nine, not warm, but light. The whole scene has got me thinkin' about goonies.
Time went by pretty quick, I was tryin' to chimp, but just sat there thinkin' about how amazingly cool it's been to see and play all of the different countries. I feel kinda torn, it's gonna be great to be home, i miss it, i can't help it, but i don't wanna leave, probably i just don't wanna be in an air plane for sixteen hours. Playing everyday is another thing i'll miss, but i can't ride my bike on tour. I should get one of those little folding bikes, that would be perfect.
The clubs a real small place, reminds me a little like last year when we played in mobile, just a p.a. and a mic in the kick drum. That time we cranked em' out, it sounded tough, tonight the guy is afraid of volume, and has the stage sound so low all i can hear is myself... blah, but i understand, we can't be louder than the p.a. It's starts out hard for me, it sounds so forgien with just the drums. These amps are so close, and i can't hear em'... something is wrong here. Well, work the room, so i do my best interpratation of playin' quite, i'm still to loud. I thought it had to sound just a bad in the front, but how could i know. Besides the people sittin' in chairs next to us, and the place was packed, no one would come within' ten feet of us, maybe they were just tying to let everyone see. Maybe it's because it's friday the thirtenth, and everyone's feelin' a little superstitious, i know i was paranoid, waiting for a disaster. It was sorta comical actually, everybody crowded in one tight litte space, with room in front of em' who knows, but i thought maybe they just hated it, and were stayin' glued to the bar, could this be the disaster? By the fourth tune, people started to come out and warm up. Folks Start dancin', they liked it, it took some doin', but we got their attention. They were just being polite, being a little too polite, c' mon, sometimes that's boring and you gotta just get up and dance, catch a groove. By the end of the set, i had totally changed my mind about the whole gig. it was a success, and the last gig of the tour. Something else that changed my mind was how much the folks opened up after the show, probably the alchohol talkin', but people seemed, to me at least, very genuine... maybe i'm niave.
We grab an Irish breakfast, which I think is pretty much the same as an English breakfast, walking distance from Dereks past rows and rows of the same brick tenements, each door brightly painted, a famous Dublin whatsit. On our way back Derek points out a house that the Joyces lived in from 1902-1904. Then we're on the road. Around 11.
We're going to be heading south along the coast past Cork to a little town called Myrtleville. I want to try to stay awake but there's not that much to see so I wind up reading mostly, bouncing between a Stones bio and Rubicon about the fall of the Roman republic (Thanks Karate!). Bout halfway there we stop at a castle named Cashel that the postcards say is near Tiperary. We go ahead and pay the $5 to walk around in there, actually 5 Euros Ireland is part of the EU! It's pretty tore up, a Romanesque chapel that used to be totally covered in fresco is mostly bare, all flaked off and fallen away, the ceiling of the cathedral is collapsed, the castle is more kept up like the one in Gradera with some furniture and tapestries, bronze age axes from 700 BC; the whole thing up on a hill called St Patricks Rock that's had stuff building on it since B.C.E.or way earlier surrounded by an ancient cemetary. From the top you can see a small town and the whole valley stretching around, a ruined stove in chapel in the middle of the green rolling fields. It's starting to get real cold and windy when we leave even though it's only mid afternoon.
We keep going and pretty soon the highway is passing through the middle of little towns which slow us way down cause they're all trafficky. Derek is in phone communication with the promoter (this is two days later and I can't remember his f'n name...Evan? Efran? Ethan? Emmet? Yes!) Emmet, who is waiting for us in a pub in Cork. I'm thinking we're running late with the castle stop and now the traffic, but Derek doesn't seem worried and Emmet just checks in once in a while to see where we're at.
We find him in Cork after a quick wander round and he seems none the worse for wear for his prolonged afternoon in the pub. He directs us about 20 minutes till we wind up to the Pine Lodge, yet another pub but this one at the end of the world.
We will be playing in a bay window opposite the bar, with the ocean behind us. Out the window there is a large bay with very rough seas pounding through the heavy wind: it looks desolate and beautiful. There are some fairly generic tractish houses and vacation homes, but it still feels pretty isolated. We are in plenty of time, there's no opening band and I figure I want to get down to that beach and walk around a bit, so Derek, Mike, Raul, Emmet and I head down for a few minutes. It is COLD! The waves crash on an actual sandy beach, about a hundred yards long ringed by miles of rocky outcroppings. We don't stay long but make it back to get in soundcheck.
For a keyboard amp I have a Roland with one 15" in it. These non Leslie keyboard amps sound OK until I actually play along with the band then they sound like toys, it's so wierd. But as Mike says: "it's the last gig of the tour; nothing can go wrong" so I maintain an absolutely positive, maybe fatalistic is a better word attitude. Mike has an Orange amp (second one in three nights!) and Raul's seems fairly OK with what he's got. There's almost no PA but it's a tiny room so the test is this: all the trappings are stripped away, starting from scratch, no gimmicks, not a pro setup; can you make magic happen? I figure yes.
After check the club owner, Mick (no shit!) makes us some pasta and then I've got some time to kill. I wander outside with Emmet and there's a couple of guys, one of em named Marty who have driven down and are planning to pitch a tent on the beach so they can drink seriously and will the high tide permit this? Maybe so. I wander around a bit not sure what to do with myself, I go in front of the club where Derek is lurking (have I mentioned Derek's mutton chop sideburns?) and we kind of wander up some ancient stone steps into the woods. It's getting dark. There's a deserted old house, but not so old doesn't have electrical outlets. Then I go tearing off down a path; soon Derek thinks I've lost it and says: "You're going to do this one on your own." I have no idea why he didn't want to run down paths through the woods in the dark. I head in the general direction of the beach and eventually come out at the same road we walked down before.
I wander off down the beach; it has the feel of a nantucket fishing village, the New England coastline. Yellow and purple flowers grow up out of purple rocks crusted in yellow lichen. I walk up a path that runs along a stream to a bench that looks out to sea. I remember touring Europe the first time 25 years ago; it's a dream, completely lost, locked away deep in the folds of my brain. Yet I have all the letters I wrote to Hellin, if I dug them out and reread them the memories would bloom like flowers in the desert after the rain. I know this place on the coastline of Ireland so intensly real will fade away completely like everything else. And all the mad thoughts spin and spin endlessly. I've walked way down the beach; there's a lighthouse flashing in the gloom across the bay. I turn around and start to head back and realize that I'm almost never where I am; my mind runs and runs furiously completely detached from my body. I've always done this. Walked alone down beaches thinking and thinking and never figuring anything out. I imagine mental health, returning from the beach no longer insane, reponding to the moment with some kind of appropriate choice. I feel like I could do it. But I know I won't.
There is no sunset. I thought I was looking west, but I was looking south. I pass a house with yellow shutters, carved shamrocks.
As I head back I pass Martin and his buddy chugging beers next to their pup tent and they offer me one. I say no I quit drinking three and a half years ago and they look like they don't really want to hang out with me, but I sit down and lean up against the concrete quay. We talk for a while about nothing as I recall, then I head back. And I am never cold throughout the entire walk, cloaked in eternity.
It's almost time to play. The Coltrane Cd won't work so it's standard pub jukebox fare whatever that is. We start. I throw everything out the window as far as settings cause nothing sounds right, just start over. It's pretty OK, they have nothing to compare to, the piece is overwhelming, the point is the piece, the 6's the 9's the 5's the 7's the words the Joycean structure, the Dantean circles the Wattian language. Watts sound is fucked up, something wrong. We push through. After the piece there is nowhere for us to go so we hide behind the bay window curtain for a minute and I say: "This was the best tour I was ever on." Then we go on and do encores,
At the very end where I'm supposed to play by myself I usually let the sound of the Leslie carry everything, but I didn't have that today so I moved my fingers and discovered a new gear, another level that I like very much. Wished I would have had it from the first day, but see? There's always more to explore.
After I talk and talk with people, they're so enthusiastic, we've gone way out there and they're grateful. Most important isn't the compliments, though they positively turn my head, but that one kid said he was inspired to pusue his music, he's a music major at the college nearby and he wanted to learn to play like me. I tell him he may be closer than he thinks and give him my email, I hope he contacts me. As Watt says at the end of every show: "Start your own band, write your own book, paint your own picture, let your freak flag fly!" It is accomplished.
And I talk for a while to Theo who came from Seattle and has been in Cork for a while doing a documentary on autism, who never knew she would be doing this, who is just washed up on the shores of Ireland living a life she never could have foreseen. And I tell her I've been thinking about going to some place like this and helping addicts and alcoholics, but really I just want to be washed up somewhere and do whatever would be right with Hellin.
Music won't let me get away. I can feel songs, pieces, whole CDs of music churning inside me, floating in the air around me, in stars above me waiting to come through. I can say I want to change professions but I'm a liar. I'm as hooked as I ever was. Ain't been no divine intervention there. That jones is still in full effect.
We pull away from the front of the Pine Lodge, barely; drunk guys have climbed into the van spilling beer and have to be coaxed out, everybody has to show their love, we say farewell and Emmet shows us to the hotel. It's one room, but a huge suite: 7 beds in four rooms! Very nice unfortunately we will be leaving in two hours Jack.
And Tomorrow I will see Hellin!
pop to a bad luck day? hell no! the last day of a tour can never be a bad luck day, especially if you've made this far safe w/all the hells that come down on you wrong. I see raul up on the couch, konked - didn't he hit the deck? don't know for sure - funny how certainty is such a crazy thing. since it's based on perception, what a insane religion to put on it as far as making a religion out of it. we are a vain species. speaking of which, I read my chimpin' from yesterday and I hope it didn't sound like I was coming down on paul too hard for his chimmpings (guess I'm coming down now on mine!). no, I stand behind what I was thinking out loud there regarding how I think a diary might relate in some ways but don't want anyone reading my spiel to think I'm putting myself above him (or above reproach!) and hating his writing. it is what it is and he's trying his hardest to help both me and raul out. it must be weird to tour w/watt and for some competitive or critical or whatever however to make it into chimpland is the way it's manifested. I'm happy to say his chimping doesn't influence my chimping except obviously when I'm dealing w/it (instead of what I ate or how I played) but that's been only a few times this whole tour. it's easy for me to let it go cuz basically I have a lot of respect for paul. he's a guy who's taught me much and even still though he's in deckhand mode w/this voyage. of course he probably doesn't realize this happens most when he's just being paul and not feeling like he's being backed into a corner or humiliated. just like me, I can imagine it's him getting in the way of himself - we are a funny species! chimp on paul, that's what I say. you might read it back later and have the laugh of your life. I remember the other time I had him on board - jer was drums then, he was so embarrassed about his chimping he wanted it all deleted and I told him to let that notion go - we're all learning how to get it together. like suicide (which is kind of a self-deletion), it's an even worse form of arrogance than just coming off silly in a diary. people gotta vent their frustration in some way and doing a schizo dance in public is not the newest invention this world has seen. I think after a while you start to get the hint it's not all about you and you don't need the fucking idiot on bass to make that apparent to you. "no wine before its time" a wise man once said (I never get tired of that quote - thank you mister wells). if I like raul's chimping better then maybe it's cuz I chose that (myself!) and who knows, I might change my mind. god, how embarrassing to read my blather even seconds after it's swallowed by the 'puter here. I'm just glad we got here and lived to tell the tale. I guess the best lesson all this can be shared w/those reading is that you should always get your own head wrapped around some actuality and don't let a handheld hand account bind you blind. like I say at the end of the gigs: start your own band, write your own book, your own poem, paint your own picture - chimp your own spiel. this might sound kind of tao but maybe there is no answer. so funny, me putting so much about the diary into the diary! I love paul. he has his ways of doing things but at the same time he's about change too - look what he's done w/some aspects of his life. tour puts you in some kinds of bizarre ways, all close-like the way we gotta be cuz this is how it's done so if things poke out a little bit for the most tiniest of shit, it's not too hard to fathom it some. like albert einstein said:
"as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
and especially important for those who read diaries, from monsieur henri ponicare:
"doubting everything and believing everything are two equally convenient solutions that guard us from having to think."
so be it, spiel is just that: spiel. let the listener/reader be in charge but don't deny those the right to spout. I will kneel at the foot of paul and admit this to him... now I feel better and less distracted, let me get on to what I really like chimping about.
derek and his wife tara live w/another couple and I talk some w/the man part while using tea instead of coff this morning. he's only a few weeks in this land, a newcomer from san francisco. wow, so many people so much braver than I am, it's good to know. he's an interesting cat w/an interesting story. hope I get to see him next time here and see how his journey's worked out in the meantime. I feel inspired now even more for this last gig, thank you. derek's empowering on me like that too - u.s. guys relating w/things foreign and finding connects, I think in a trippy way it's natural though some might be weirded out some but I do think we're a curious species and for every fear of the unknown, there's a hankerin' to search it out. this last gig is in the south of ireland, county cork and a little town called myrtleville not too far from cork itself. it's our longest ride for ireland and we're blessed again w/no rain. some greasy chow, the way they do it off the continent when you see the word traditional (deep fried everything - the great equalizer) and derek's motoring us through land loaded w/sheeps and their new lambs, cows w/their cud chewing and even some race horses - me and pettibon watch the ponies back in so cal and there's always a few irish horses a meet at either hollywood park on santa anita. we throw tiny monies, it's more for watching and spending time together which I dig much. oh, I forgot that first we went through what's the biggest park in these parts, deers running about in the middle of dublin. that was a trip! derek stops us to get gas where the road goes from motorway to two-lane and I get some good shots of the way-wooly sheep and their little babies. they're adorable. their sounds are trippy too, in a weird way like how ducks "mutter" w/their quacks when they're not so much scared but rather curious about the human creature tripping on them. derek then stops us at "caisel na ri cashel" - a combination castle/church from around the fifteenth century (sure, there's some axe heads from real old times but then some gravestones from the 1990s too) that's got some crumbled up parts that are pretty neat. some restoration going on so the scaffolding kind of lames up some of my shots but I take even more snaps w/the digicamera than I did of the sheeps w/their lambs at the last gas stop - my favorite one is of a shamrock that's been carved into a headstone in the cemetery right near. it's kind of a mindblow looking back at a picture that's hooked to a memory, huh? the memory is so much "liberal" w/the reality but then again a photo might be enough to start off some other weird trips to imagine - such as it is. it being a castle means it's sure enough on a hill so the view at all the green is truly righteous, wow. different a little from looking from those castles in italy and germany but just as profound. maybe hills w/intense views shouldn't be wasted on castles! maybe it's ok something got left so you can wonder about all the hurt that went into building it up or fighting to try and tear it down, maybe to put on a more humane route to progress. I guess the jury's still out on what's "more humane" though, huh? "no shortcuts to the truth, watt - get it through your thick fucking head!"
a two-lane road also means it becomes the main street through every town we pass, not too unlike the u.s. but this means slowing way down so the trek gets its share of plug and it gets up on like six hours before we hit cork. trippy, the main part of the town itself is on an island and it takes some loop and blow-by but we find the gigboss emmet on a corner and he rides w/us to myrtelville, to a pad called the pine lodge. it's right on the water and you can hear the sea roar, reminding much of my pedro town. emmet tells us the cops found the money stole from that big robbery in northern ireland not too long ago cuz some of it was getting lit up by a guy in his front yard like he was burning leaves! emmet's cool people and so is the padboss mick, who cooks us up some great chow himself. this is a little pub and we're playing in small room that's got a window looking out to the sea, righteous - what a way to end a tour! emmet's got buddies in a band called stanley super 800 that's lending us stuff to play on though we're the only band playing tonight. I'm going through an orange (both the color and the brand) amp hooked to a single 4x12 cab of the same make. it's a tube amp (or like they call them here, a valve amp) and it sounds good. raul's gonna have to play kind of light though, even w/just his kick having a mic cuz well, "work the room" means just that. after a soundcheck, mick leads upstairs to a room where I konk 'til I'm "summoned" for gig time.
a full house and we do the piece one more time, chapter last. this makes 105 times total - twice w/jer + pete, sixtyseven times w/pete + raul and thirtysix times w/raul + paul. trippy math, huh? such is the life of a piece. like in dublin, all those words I forgot when the gigs were getting recorded in brussels and amsterdam come back to me easy as pie! how I wish carlos wouldn't have told me maybe they were being recorded... no, it's ok cuz I trust carlos much - he always makes the right call ('pert-near enough for me, anyway!). I don't wanna get in the habit of blaming others for my shortcomings anyway cuz then how will I ever learn, ever grow? but man, the bass sound seems to get littler and littler as the set goes on but like I said before, nothing can be wrong on the final gig of a tour. I bear w/it and my guys do good though I know it must be torture for raul trying to feel out where my bass is 'pert-near by braille. this is my first time in this part of ireland and I know it's a weird thing for these folk to hear (the piece, I mean) but they give us their full-on focus. much respect to them. there's no backstage or even side parts but there is a big curtain and I bring my guys behind that. contrary to what you might read elsewhere, no one gets yelled at (some gigs there were comments by me right after we played but to say it happened every night is such a exaggeration I think you should wonder about where that's coming from) and in fact I tell my guys "job well done" for all they did for the tour. I said I had to deal w/a tiny sound cuz I was tiny, that was the hand dealt to me so as far as trying to control the situation or throw a fit cuz it wasn't going all perfect - hell, I just had to let it go - even to the point of trying to reason it out cuz I knew it would've fucked up me trying to tell this weird story for the last time. however, paul tells me he thinks my sound might be all tiny cuz of a dead battery somewhere in the pedal effect hell so when we back out "on stage" (we're actually on the deck), I disconnect all that stupid shit and sure enough, paul's right on the money and I get much more in the picture w/some level. "we are time" is the last tune we play for this tour, we're done:
all will be now
dreams are too fast
you are the first
we are the last
the last, es todo, alles tun - when the music's over. what a way to put her to bed, big hugs for raul and paul. I will not wait another seven years for a watt euro tour, I will do it again in a couple years at the latest. all these cats from their own lands had much to learn this foreigner and I so much appreciate it - the same for my two fellow countrymen who work these lands w/me. I will never find the words to put it correctly how I feel it so in my heart but I hope someway that they can somehow know that. it's important for me to play my own land too but just like I try to always put canadian gigs in a u.s. tour, I gotta make sure I get overseas to test my watt-wrote stuff and at the same time get learned much also. just like you can't learn everything being the boss, you can't learn everything just staying within your own borders. this experience these last six weeks has really driven that home and I am so very convinced!
I put my bass away one more time and gather up those fucked-up pedals too. then it's spiel time right outside the pad, cats here wanting to know things but also discuss ideas on their minds - it's all much interesting and I spend as much time as I can but we do have to bail soon cuz w/the driving needed to get to dublin and the flight to go off 'pert-near at two pm, the crack of dawn will be when we need to shove off. there was liquor put in me, even whisky. not too much but some. when we get to where we get to konk, I go to take a bath cuz I'm all sweaty but hell, I like it here in this tub and am so tired I konk right in it soon as I let the water run out! I kept telling myself I'll let the air dry me off and that's when I got dragged down into sleepytown. so my last night konk of the tour is a tub one - ha! pretty fitting to fit like that. at least it was a long one and I could put my legs straight and spare these fucking knees!
saturday, may 14, 2005 - san pedro, ca, usa
The end of my second tour with watt, and of course, i learned lots from him, i hope there's a ton more in the future, still lots to learn. Sometimes it can become like travelin' school, and the topic of day will just happen to be what territory you're travelin' through. Paul, as well was a total tour dog, i had a great time on the road with him, he had lots to give, a big help, i learned lots from him too. Think he had just as good a time as i did, well, he did. Told me it was the best time he's had on tour. Before i go, also a big thanks to all the folks who were so nice to us while we were away from home, you made me that much less homesick, and thank you gentlemen, for the expierience of travellin' thru europe with a screamer and a minutemen, truely fantastic, until next time... be seeing you.
Wake right up. Set on ordeal mode it is simply painless. We are driving at 6 a.m. Derek admits to being quite impressed. Derek's band is called Moutpiece. See, the Irish don't say th, they say t like tanks alot! Mike sits in the front and has soon nodded his head hanging down at an impossible angle, Raul too is out. I am TOO FUCKING FREEZING to sleep; the concept is, if you stay awake as much as possible heading west you don't jet-lag out; we get in at 9:30 p.m. go to sleep like it was nothing and you're back on schedule. So I learn incredible amounts of info about the Roman Republic, fucking bastards they sound like to me, nothing like Alexander as Mary Renault paints him, read the Persian Boy by her, romans bunch of bloodthirsty bastards. I maybe doze at some point but not much. Snack at stops, bad coffee, wierd calm state of mind, not tired really, excited?
And make great time, airport way ahead of time but that's how we like it. Check in, trying to spend all Euro change which can't be turned into dollars, then wait and wait and wait. Flight over the Atlantic is pretty open, watch a coupla bad movies, but I do that on planes, even I can't read 18 hours straight; the movies keep me awake and that's part of the plan. The flight isn't crowded; there are people sleeping over three seats; I just move around so I'm not in a middle seat and feel OK.
Just expecting shit at customs, get it all the time coming in to U.S., maybe skeletons in my closet, I always seem to set off flags, Mike too. But this time, in Philly, they only ask one question: "What's the name of the band?" I say: "Mike Watt and the Secondmen" and the guy shakes his head regretfully and says: "never heard of ya..." and we're through.
Philly to LA is worse; absolutely crammed like sardines, not an open seat, it seems to drag and drag. The bugs move under my skin, Ceasar conquers Gaul, Robert DeNiro plays an ex CIA guy in Meet the Fokkers and both Raul and I see astonishing parallels between his character and Mike Watt. The flight is endless and agonizing. Mike and I talk a bit about history, but I finally just have to suffer in silence, unable to interact with other human beings, even though I know that when we get back I won't get to talk to Mike much; our lives are full and in different places. And that makes me very sad.
We land 24 hours from the time we left the hotel this morning and the really pretty incredible string of luck holds. The gear is all here. And Hellin pulls up right on time.
She looks so beautiful, all dressed in black, she's got a little makeup on, driving our two door '98 RAV 4 the funniest looking car ever, a fucking roller skate. She glows. She's lost a little weight hasn't she? And she says the cutest most heart wrenching thing I've ever heard her say: "I was a little nervous..."
She was a little nervous? I guess it's pretty nervewracking to be the captured muse. How was I allowed to capture my muse? An absolute no no, the muse must always dance away just out of reach, treasuring granite tombstone secrets, a miracle of destruction revelling in misery doing cartwheels in defeat. And yet here she is picking me up at the airport, feeling jittery about seeing her husband of 25 years. 25. The anniversary is July 3. We lived together a year before that.
I was getting ready to move with her to New York for the summer for Nina Hagen band rehearsels. Everything was going up up, Nina had come to LA to find me and take me away to a new life. It was 1980. Hellin and I had lived through a year of insane drama already, but I was gone, every crazy fucking stunt she pulled just added to her allure, her mad power. I was under a spell.
Anyway her parents didn't like the idea of us getting away and living in sin on the other side of the country so they arranged a quick shotgun wedding in Vegas. You know they say don't set eyes on the bride on the day of the wedding? Well we ignored all that convention, we always ignore all convention and I saw her in her beautiful wedding gown and I noticed on her arm between shoulder and elbow a scar that spelled out the word "vicious." My brain flip flopped, my heart did a 360 and pounded boom! and I knew for sure, beyond any doubt that she was for real, there is no act, she is the terrifying godess no shit and we were going to go through the whole crazy life side by side. And then we went to the chapel, the Little Chapel of the West for the ceremony, and the priest who must have done a million of these saw us, two wierd 21 year olds, and he probably said the same thing he had said a million times, only I believed it and she believed it, and it was "till death do us part."
I hope I can play with Mike Watt for the rest of my life too. We go apart over the last 20 years all the time but return, and each time I am more ready to learn. We scream at each other a few times a tour, and I always think it's over, but I remember that there have been screaming matches before, with giants and closest family and I dream to be among those or as close and loved as I can be.
So we leave the airport and meet at my house; watt's boat parked there, Hellin soaked him to leave it there but so is she always, there are the kids, not kids at all but men, for a wierd instant the tour is IN MY HOUSE and then it is over.
And you who travelled this rode with me. I have gotten emails from Pennsylvania and Belfast and Geneva and I want more. I am as sane as who I am with, and as insane as I am alone. Turns out there is someone out there reading after all and I like that idea. I'm going to get Paulroessler.com up and running and put out CD's: 12 steppers and dead junkies, RapedXGod, Boy Scout, Soft in a hard World, the BJ sessions, the Fluttering Bloodclots, and many many many more and sell them ONE AT A TIME if thats how it's gotta be, 'cause THAT'S WHAT WATT TAUGHT ME! And I'll fight through the sick blockades my mind throws up, I DON'T GIVE A FUCK. I am the luckiest fool to ever walk the earth. Think of me, control your jealousy, dancing with my muse.
I pop at six bells, just as if an alarmclock had blasted me awake w/some major SOUND. me be late for the final hellride? FUCK NO! I get everyone going quick (nary a coddle... go w/it, man!) and we're off for dublin. once again we're blessed w/a sky full of sun rather than rain - thank you much, ireland. we make yesterday's six hour ride in three and a half, big hugs and love for derek who was such a righteous cat to sail w/and I don't mean this gratuitously: much respect to him.
time to wait it out in the airport after checking in - no overweight charges, thank you much to the check-in lady. no wait is too long a wait when a tour's done, I've learned to let all the anxious shit go. what use is it? and to feed w/coffee? the lies we feed ourself. I do have coff though cuz my plan is to stay up as much as I can cuz the plane gets into l.a. at night and that'd be the good time to finally konk. the flight's broken up into two parts and we'll clear customs in phily so that's a good thing, being able to go right from baggage land to raul's buddy kevin in the old boat - god willing. man, I get some nods going but never konk completely - shaking myself out of it before sueno swamps me. I got tons to do back home, playing the catch-up game and don't want any jetlag (or at least a minimum of it) putting what seems like lead in my blood stream. actually, there's a customs like thing you do in ireland that makes even the phily stuff easier (us and the irish republic must have a deal from all the folks we've shared) so after the atlantic crossing, the walk to the other end of the airport (that's what it seems like!) is good on getting my fluids circulating - can't tell you how sitting stuffs me up that way, whoa. waiting for the next flight, paul lets me see that roman history book. not very good, I don't even check to see who the writer is cuz it reads like fucking "reader's digest" shit. paul certainly doesn't read history like d. boon did and I'm sorry but I grew up learning history from d. boon and have learned that what you're actually learning is actually how much you very much don't know and can't - like joyce said in so many words, "history is a nightmare I'm trying to wake up from." damn, did d. boon teach me much about history in those days, much like raymond pettibon too, continuing into these days. hearing paul talk his way... not too much different than lots of what passes for it these days but way different than d. boon or pettibon. different is ok though, I only wish I could let paul see how "normal" in lots of ways he is cuz the way he paints himself as such an "outsider" might be a lot of what's bothering him. like steve mcclellan taught me: "I have met the enemy and he is me." now that's something worth learning from HIStory, I think. god, how many times have I got it all ass-backwards? still am.
we're on the flight now to l.a. and all three of us are sitting in a row w/me giving a "history lesson" to raul (insane watt version, usually to highlight some IRONY I feel I've perceived!) and poor paul's in the middle. maybe that's why he's so much in these spiels. well, seems he wanted a bigger role all tour (you should see the way he soundchecks!) so here's his shot. I can feel him to start to weird out so I cease and read the "tao te ching" that scotty asheton turned me onto. I'm trying so hard not to konk. there's so much intense stuff here like:
the tao of heaven nourishes by not forcing
the tao of the wise person acts by not competing
I then give one more try at history, stupid rock stuff like this account of the rolling stones doing altamont, before that recording "sticky fingers" and then before that, brian jones getting booted and dying. again, I'm not going to mention the author's name or even the title of the book but I thought going backwards might help but it didn't - it was terrible, even w/all the hype written on the book jacket. just cuz something's written down or somebody else wrote something about it doesn't make it good - I think you gotta make up your own mind. if it moves you, maybe it was just a laxative - be critical! ha, funny getting advice from the likes of me. I've never gotten anywhere telling people what to do. all I've been allowed to do is by others being generous, this is something I'm not afraid to admit. I work my work but the reality is I'm a weird part of some team, that's the truth. for some reason that makes me think of some overt sidemouse stuff I did last summer for a silver lake band called listing ship. their former bass player sold all their equipment for heroin, damn (no shit he's now "former bass player"). I filled in and let them tell me what to do. you don't just do that w/people other people might think are famous, you do it cuz you wanna really help and I swear I find out I get helped too, helped to learn by playing that role: the sidemouse. I guess maybe I can appreciate that having to play skipper at other times. shakespeare was so right about life being about a bunch of roles, I think. seems to be like that to me anyway but maybe I'm reading in things that are way out of bounds! anyway, what could I tell them about heroin that they didn't already know? how could I help them by telling them how to run their band or how to play/write their songs? they had much to teach by me letting them be them, it was listing ship school for watt!
we land at lax, the airport in l.a. about 9:30 pm and yes, my bass does arrive and so does my clothes bag - filled w/clothes I never wore except for some underwear and levis - I wore this blue shirt 'pert-near the whole time. that bag's also filled w/lots of cds from cats I met all tour and for sure I'll be playing these on the watt from pedro show. so much thanks to them and all the folks who let us do "the secondman's middle stand" for them on this tour. big love to dutch dude carlos. of course the same to paul for filling in for pete when he couldn't do this tour himself. raul has again earned lots of my respect and I can't wait to tour w/him again, I think the next time will be w/tom watson and I'm gonna call the band mike watt + the missingmen. in the end, I don't care if nobody's heard of it, we'll do what we can and try to learn something from it. they're no shortcuts in life, no matter who you try to blame. I got the hankerin' to write guitar stuff again - little songs too! life is funny.
paul gets picked up from his wife helen - great to see her again. me and raul wait for his room/bandmate kevin but he's not long for coming. he takes us to paul and helen's pad and I'm happy to tell both adam and alex (paul's sons) that his pop did real good and they should be really proud of him. when we left I told them I'd take care of their pop - the whole time in my mind my main concern was getting my men back to cali safe... I know the piece was important but them getting back to their love ones ok was my number one priority. to see paul w/his family and raul taking the old boat to pedro really tells me the mission's been completed. much love to my guys.
I take the new boat back to pedro - whoa, how much different is this baby from that dutch boat I wheeled for the last six weeks. trippy feeling the feel of my own pad too - whoa, look at all the mail nanny's got for me while I was gone... not many days to get caught up 'til stooges summer gig time but first, time to soak in my own tub and then konk on my own deck. yet another sally forth and I've been so blessed to be allowed to return, get back to my pedro town. you know I'm gonna be pedalin' my bike like one wack man come the crack of dawn. amen.
read week 5 of the tour diary
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