j mascis and the fog
watt - thud staff
george berz - drums
(top, left to right)
j mascis - guitar, singing
spot - came to austin gig
(bottom, left to right)
eric fischer - tour boss
jamie - soundman
tim - helper man
steve kaul - the man outside the van
monday, november 20, 2000 - fort stockton, tx
I pop and take a walk around. empty desert town sights for watt. crisp, clean air though for the lungs. dig it. I come back after a couple hours and find jamie checking the trailer out. very lucky for us, thank you jamie. this fucking trailer, what a fucking piece of shit. ain't bad enough it lets rain in from leaks in its roof and the electrical light harness is frayed beyond belief causing its lights to constantly fail - jamie finds one of the leaf springs snapped. damn, we're out of the race. we run around to several "trailer repair" shops in deming here but none can help us. looks like we gotta do seventy five miles to las cruces and give it a go there. the name of a pad the last place we try gives us is wrong, the directory assistance operator says it's in moriarty, up near albuquerque! we gotta get creative and guess right about where "sun valley trailers" actually is. nice folks there fix us up for like sixtyfive dollars and they get it done prett quick too. thank you much. it's good to know there's good folks everywhere.
wer're back in the race and east again on I-10 into texas. next big town is el paso and it's an eye-opener to see across the rio grande at folks living in neighboring juarez ciudad, mexico. dirt roads and econo pads. very sobering. after that it's bleak as bleak can get. west texas is not the gorgeous desert, it is hardly anything, just big wind and dirt. no towns pretty much, just road. we get to one gas station by van horn that has tigers. tigers for sale even! what a trip. only a couple at the station, maybe there's more at some pad behind a bluff, who knows? they gotta be raised somewhere. weird.
again I lobby for limiting the night shift, let's get some eye-shut during the dark and spin the tires w/the sun. looks like only fort stockton has even pads to konk in so it's pretty much settled that where we pitch the tent. I really appreciate the fellas going w/me on this cuz it aint' like we got enough to worry about. I still want to kill those fuckers in queens who rented eric this trailer. how could anyone w/a conscious do shit like that? assholes. again, it's rollin' konk and not gig konk but believe me, the shit comes fast, regardless. just gotta remember to pass out on the back instead of the stomach in order to reduce the amount of dust bunnies sucked into the word hole. I hate when that happens or rather when I pop at dawn and find out that it has. talk about a mouthful... as sueno takes me, I do give thanks the trailer repair held up - thank you!
tuesday, november 21, 2000 - austin, tx
day three of our san diego to austin dash and I'm again hoofing at the crack of light in a tiny town. the wind is really blowing out here. I literally walk to the outskirts of town to get some coffee. I mean the town just ends. no need to really ponder it, this is the way it is. yesterday in the van we had a discussion about little towns and how they might be good and they might be bad. I proposed that maybe there's different stages in your life where you might be suited for such a place and others where you need a big sprawl. I get arguments from everyone regarding this, they are convince a little town is a nightmare for everyone all the time but I just can't agree. seems too shallow and for the complexities of understanding an individual. everyone is not in the same state of mind and even the same person is not in the same state their whole life. an adventurous spirit w/an open mind and yes, even a loving disposition might just have to experience different ways of living during the course of a life. I think every pad has something to teach you. anyway, onward to austin. my words might make sense to these cats some day.
the terrain starts to change, hills w/trees start making the scenery. we leave the interstate and use a u.s. highway to cut straight through to austin. we go through johnson city and have some subway sandwiches there. what kitsch they got here on main street: old german names (main street is haupstrasse) and frontier western facades. this was lbj's town but I guess they need more than that to bring in die touristen. one kind of business you can find plenty of is making "yard sculptures," iron lawn jockeys of cowboys, deer, whatever. some of it is huge, wonder how tourists fit it in thieir rental cars? amazing.
from there, we get to austin - our three day hellride is finally done. tonight we're playing _the mercury_, a new pad on sixth street. sixth street?! I thought I would never play on this street in this town. I've always played the pads outside of this land o' frat, I guess life is about change. it's upstairs from some t.g.i.f. kind of place called "jazz." oh boy. the boss, philip, though is very cool people and I find out the stubb's people are actually involved. it just happens to be on sixth street and all. I can't get so judgemental - it just leads to me finding my head up my ass. gotta watch that.
I have to say here that there's one thing that bums me about this tour: it's the lack of chilies or chili sauce that packs any kind of heat. when watt tours, he's got a very simple rider regarding consumable needs - just some waters, a hot meal, some tortilla chips and salsa to make you shit fire. that's it. that's all. what I find on this tour is fucking tameboy crap like *mild* tostidos, *regular* la victoria, or even *hot* (yeah, right) pace - not even tabasco - which is like drinking water to me nowadays (you build up tolerances w/chilies, like anything else). aarrggghhhhhhhh! whatever. I shouldn't jones so hard but I do. lucky watt though cuz elizabeth put two bottles in the mail to a friend to give me here in austin. sure enough, right before we go on, I get the bottles. both w/habaneros, good. one's got tamarind, that's trippy. even though I really dig heat, I love flavor too. it ain't just capacin (the stuff that delivers the flames).
I watch the whole set of the openers but for the life of me, I spaced on the name, damn - what an idiot. they were good, a trio - the bass cat played radio too (an old shortwave). a nice couple have me sign a shirt for their son. that's a trip, huh? I can't imagine how a young person perceives me and my music. anyway, the place is packed - sold out. spot, my buddy from the old sst days (he produced our first bunch of minutemen records) comes by and we have a quick but great talk - I love seeing him. then it's our turn to play. having been just give the hot sauces in the envelope they came in, there's nowhere to put them so I bring them w/me on stage. there's a wall on my side of the stage and between me and the wall is a small round table - I put the envelope there. we begin to play. sure is sweaty. still, I wish I would've got a chance to get a hit of one of those chili bottles before we went on.
the gig was hard in a way, three days off really throws off the momentum especially when I was starting to get it rolling. I don't want to make excuses though. I blew a bunch of clams. I would mostly still be in the key but still, there were clams. didn't lose the beat hardly so that's good. what I did do was try and shake my body as hard as I could to get my blood all over. I didn't want to be all dried up and like a stiff, feeling my joints. I just shook and shook, hard. I wanted to be put in such a state too. that worked. that helped. just standing there are freaked-out and self-conscious was not happening. j blew up an amp in the first song but had a back-up and put that in. george was having a hard time, his arm was real sore in san diego. he's better but like I said about the three days off - it's weird on what you can build up together and then have reduced. damn.
to add insult to injury, when it's time to leave and I go to hop in the boat, one of the bottles of hot sauces (I had since transferred them from the envelope to the back pocket of my levis) plops out and onto the parking lot deck - damn! arrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh! shit - all over, chili and shattered glass on the austin asphalt. it was the one w/the tamarind, I'll never know its taste, shit! I am such a fucking klutz! it's a tiny ride to the ho but the hole time I'm punching myself in the head many times inside my mind. what a careless fuck. at least I got one bottle left. it's called 'screaming hornets' and has the slogan "it's fun to get stung!" I can dig that. like they say, "when it's raining domino's pizza, make manure." that small consolation is enough to calm my brain down and let the konk I need come swiftly.
wednesday, november 22, 2000 - dallas, tx
pop early and hit the tub for a good soak - the joints are real sore. next: go outside. we're staying at this holiday inn near the club and there's a sign right outside by the frontage road that says 'town lake' so I went down the road and there it is, 'town lake.' a beautiful path around the shore. I walked all along it, wonderful. squirrels coming right up to me. folks kayaking, running, pedaling... trippy about foot paths, the idea of walking in someone else's steps, in their past. I can sort of sense it coming up from the ground and into my feet. memories and ghosts. makes me think, makes me wonder. I even cry, the feeling is so overwhelming. wow, fragile watt. my mind turns to d. boon. oh, I have to snap out of it... the bird songs are so much different here than in my town. lots of geese flying around too, they're funny to see fly, like they're going backwards, I love it. funny honks too.
we make our way north up the I-35 towards dallas. just past waco, there's an old gas station that's been turned into a pad that sells older clothes. it's called the 'style station.' whoa, look what I find - an old levi jean jacket like the one I had as teenager in the 70s. and look at this: the levi logo has a capital 'e' instead of a lower case one like nowadays. that means this is indigo. my own jacket wore out many, many years ago - I wore it so much. this one feels real good on me. funny how an old coat can stir such memories. my mind must just be in that kind of mode today. makes me think of all the stupid idiot shit I did as a teenager. I have laughs instead of tears inside this time though and find it remarkable how I ever made it this far, the retarded shit I did. how does one survive their self?
tonight's gig is at the _gypsy tea room_, some place I've never playeed before. it's in the deep ellum part of dallas like most music pads here. it's small, more set up for acoustic gigs, looks like. the p.a. is tiny, oh boy. the dressing room is a little space in the kitchen. something seems really half-assed about this. there's another, bigger room connected and what's this? another gig is happening at the same time, w/a hip-hop cat named common. strange. strange too, it's the anniversary of the day jfk got shot and we're in the town it happened. let's see what might shoot this gig down.
there's no opening act. after soundcheck, I sit on the stage by where I play doing email. I'm trying to be where elizabeth's best friend and her husband can find me, she wants them to meet me. people hear about me through folks I know but it's another thing for them to actually meet and talk w/me. of course, it makes me very nervous because I wonder of their expectations and so I end up spieling a lot to hide my insecurity. I never really let them tell me much about themselves by doing that stupid shit. this always makes me feel like such a bozo later. I'm glad I met them thouigh, they just had a baby and seem very nice. they want to know about elizabeth's insane friend who wrestles the bass. I wonder if I seemed like a martian, you know how you want to make a good impression but in reality, it's more in their hands - they're seeing you through their eyes, not yours. trying to explain yourself and over-compensating is most embarrassing. it's hard to explain twentythree years of punk rock in the few minutes before I have to go on. I just want them to know where I'm coming from and not look too much like a cartoon. basically, I got into this scene to do whatever the fuck I wanted to do w/music and ideas - that's it. I could not fit into any other way of doing it. I love being outrageous w/the bass. for me, punk was a utopia in my head - I can't answer for what was or what's happening now w/it. anyway, it must've sounded like a load of blather from an obviously mixed up middle-aged man. eric comes to the rescue and drags me away to help make the set list. I'm really touched that j values my opinions on such matters. maybe I'm not totally full of shit.
then the gig came and it was terrible. the system was way too toy and kept shutting down. had to stop many times. no bass in the p.a. at all! I think it was the most mime of any gig I've ever done w/j. damn. I felt bad for the kids and apologized over the mic. j did too. no more gigs w/the people who run this pad. what a lame trip they put on these folks. the crowd were great though and very understanding. I felt like a dick, big time - just hate to see those who want to see a gig cheated. seems our whole gear was running through one breaker. eric was back in the kitchen and kept throwing it back every time it blew. after a while, even that wouldn't help. we just had to stop. what a fucking dud. aaarrrggggghhh. maybe it's just the wrong day of the year for a gig in this town.
damn, I want to hug everyone who came and say I'm sorry. I try to tell as many as I can. we pack up and head to the ho, some weird one w/water marks all ove the walls - was there a flood here? eerie, eerie pad. it fills me w/strange feelings as somehow sueno has its way and tugs me into konkville. thank god.
thursday, november 23, 2000 - new orleans, la
dancer wants to see the grassy knoll and the book depository building - elm and main street, where jfk was killed. we gotta take j to the airport, he's going to a wedding in ann arbor, mi (amma is presiding over it) and we'll go by there on the way. we gotta leave at five in the mornig, arrrrggghhhhhh! only a couple hours of sleep, my eyeballs feel like dried-out leather baseballs - boy, do they itch. damn. it's ok though, anything for dancer. I show all my bands this stuff anyway, they always trip on how small it looks. they always imagine it much bigger from the pictures they've seen. there were some pictures and memorial things (handmade) on the lawn. we took the exact root from where it happened to where they drove the limo away. the tree's grown more now like it used to be when it happened. I always get the creeps here. I was almost six when it happened and can remember it. I remember my ma crying for so long...
me and dancer drop j off and then head back to the ho. he goes to konk but I gotta hoof - my mind is lit and I can't shut it off. I walk by the freemason hall, walk by the scottish rite pad. huge edifices, like a federal building would have. walk by the driveway to the cop station where ruby shot oswald. cold, gray drizzle all about me. I am in sort a depressed way. I never tour this time of year and always have a thanksgiving chow w/my ma and my sisters. I call my ma to say happy thanksgiving. this is one dumper of a morning for watt. I always use walks to pummel myself w/recriminations but it's especially heavy on this hoof. what a mope. I get back to the ho in time for us to bail. it's a day off tonight but we gotta to head for new orleans, our last u.s. gig for the tour.
we got a ten and a half hour hellride - outran a storm but still had a lot of weather, hard rain. houston might get flooded now. good thing we came in from north louisiana though there four huge plugs (backups) that had us do like ninety miles in three hours at the beginning! had to pull over a bunch to fix this lame trailer's lights that would keep failing. that god damn dick for nothing lame-ass fucking trailer - hell w/it! after new orleans, dancer and orangeman will take it back to the shit pit it fucking spurted out from and out of life forever! damn, it makes me mad. I don't care how cheap eric rented it for - you can be a penny wise and end up a dollar foolish. I think some other bozo said that first.
thanksgiving chow for watt? I had strange things through the day. I had a pimento cheese sandwich that they only sell around these areas earlier. it was weird. I had them w/chili pepper potato chips stuffed in them. very bizarre and not tasting healthy at all! (but I did dig it in an odd way) later at nightfall, boudin from a gas station in louisiana. it's spiced soft sausage w/rice in a skin that you squeeze out to chow. I used a bunch of that sauce elizabeth gave me ("screaming hornet"), also spiced up some tapitio someone gave me (good flavor but not a lot of heat). trippy way to chow it. george hurley used to love it and I would get it w/him. hell, I started taking hits of the hornet sauce straight out the 8-bottle, fuck it! I sure as hell wanted to see visions! I also had some pickled spiced quail eggs. they were good too. the strangest thanksgiving chow.
we finally get to new orleans around midnight and head for the pontchartrain hotel on saint charles, near the superdome and the same distance from club we're playing tomorrow, _howlin' wolf_. I used this software the tour boss eric gave me w/maps from a cd to guide us right in. down to very up-close scale. everyone went to drink and stuff but I stayed to konk. that funky chow has got me kind of, well, gassed up. I fart my way into sleepytown.
wednesday, november 24, 2000 - new orleans, la
I pop and take a walk in a light rain. get some eggs and grits down the street, that's unusual for me. I don't eat a lot of breakfasts on tour. I get nervous, I don't really have that much of an appetite. then it's down the street the other way to do wash, I have no clean outfits left. a trippy pad, igor's is both a laundromat and a bar. I don't drink anything but I do get my stinking clothes clean. it's like nine in the morning and folks are getting pretty sloshed already. damn. lots of english accents - tourists or something. I guess this is what you're supposed to do in new orleans. pretty funny, the ideas folks have of this town. me, I've always seen it as a neat place to play - pretty unique to the rest of the country. tough to play here in the summer - whew, the humidity! you need fucking gils to breathe! this time of year is nice though. the rain lets up and it's happening, especially after spending all yesterday in the van, rolling through hell weather. thank you! I do some big walks and just dig checking out the town. the normal parts, not all the touristy parts. it is a neat place.
we're playing a pad I did w/the porno for pyros cats called _howlin' wolf_. after soundcheck, I go w/j to a health food store and we get some reed's ginger brew. good shit, I really dig it. j gets all kinds of things I'm not familiar w/but am curious about it all. j has taught me a lot about a bunch of stuff. I learn tons being around him. it's great. we get back to the gig and there's a few of my friends there. doug, a good bud from memphis who I always dig seeing, he made the hellride all the way down. he even brought a bud to see me w/j - he's seen all my musical incarnations and I'm so glad he's here tonight. walter, an old pedro bud who's since moved to louisiana. I use to wash dishes w/him at the hospital in pedro a long time ago. rob, who lives here in town and promotes adventurous music, is here. so are some listeners from mississippi that I rapped to last time I was here playing at the mermaid. what a surprise - kirsha, who comes to see me play in l.a. is here too. she says she lives half the year here. wow, many friends to see me work the broom w/j. I get a chance to talk w/all of them before we go on, this adds to the spirit. I want to do good for all of them. j and george too.
and our gig does go good. boy, is it loud! this place is a warehouse and the sound is a din. we play good though, very together - the time seems to fly by. some gigs are like that, it seems it's over as soon as we start. it's weird how that happens. maybe it's getting more confidence w/the tunes, maybe more confident w/the pick, I don't know. what I do know is that j lit the pad up w/some searing shit and george stoked it up w/some pounds. hopefully I glued it all together w/some bottom grout. I think it's a great way to end this part of the tour. we get done and george is rolling away, much mota is puffed and puffed. my clothes are soaked, I played my brains out. nothing wrong w/that - I love getting wrung out. proves to me I'm alive and really going for it. sometimes I like to see myself as a hard-charger. I mean, I think j's a hard-charger too but w/me, I like to feel the physicalness of it. so much different than that other part of me that always has to spiel about it. and spieling is what I do later, I think I get hardly any konk which isn't so bad cuz of the hellride on the airplane tomorrow. w/my hurtin' knees, it's good for me to pass out quick in that tube as it sails over the atlantic.
saturday, november 25, 2000 - in the air over the atlantic
last u.s. date for this tour done, now it's time for the europe part. orangeman came yesterday and him and tim (dancer) took the van and trailer to atlanta so the gear could get shipped over the atlantic. we find out the mississippi state police on a random search pulled them over and they were on the side of the road for an hour while three drug dogs went through the stuff. j lent them his walkie-talkie phone and that's how we found out. one heavy thing was that dancer lost his driver's license the day before and he was driving when they were pulled over - damn! he also didn't know about the bones eric and stowed from the tour. all that made for a very uncomfortable situation but they survived unscathed, just some time lost.
meanwhile, the rest of us do a short flight to dallas. after an hour or so, we board for a nine hour and some change hellride to paris on a 767-300. have to say that american has a little bit more room for the legs but it's still hurtin' time for watt. me and j sit in the same row w/a seat between which gets filled w/j's doll of amma. he carries her in a pouch bag. she just blessed again while j was in ann arbor on thanksgiving. the doll makes it calm enough for me to konk and I'm out almost the whole flight. I feel very lucky. plane flights can be the most boring, cramped situation alive. I did stay awake long enough to have the dinner chow and there was some funny shit. some guy stands up and actually complains about the chow! says it tastes bad. like 'no shit.' george was busting up. he's sitting a couple of rows behind and to the port - I keep nailing him w/a pat of butter but then keep receiving it in the back of the head. good thing it's wrapped up.
there's free liquor but I don't take any. konk is strange, lots of turbulence makes for some pretty insane panic dreams but I do keep it together enough to keep it parked in sleepytown. I've been to paris once before to do press but never have played there. been through france for transit but never have played a french gig period. can't wait. my french cherry gig looms ahead as I konk inside the flying tube. damn, all the farts I'm drilling through the seat - thank you, louisiana...
sunday, november 26, 2000 - paris, france
we touch down at ten in the morning. the sun is out, thank you! it's de gaulle airport outside of paris that the plane has landed in. customs is very, very easy. just a show of the passport. thank you, france! we took a couple of amp heads and a guitar so we're shlepping that around as well as our clothes. we call george's bag "the whale." j's only got a porpoise. jamie's got a girlie bag and eric, a duffle. me, I have a young kids version of a hockey bag, I'm told by george. big pockets on both ends for skates. it's like a small duffle bag in size. have had for years. funny, I've only been in this bag a few times all tour cuz it's been under all this shit (drums, tools, cords, merch, etc..) in the back of the van. only when my outfits get so overgrown w/filth had I made the intense effort to mine it out w/pick and axe so I could feel the incredible mercy of fresh outfits. damn.
eric gets the reantal van that us band folks will use. jamie and dancer (tim) will use another van for the gear. the flight made j very insane so he wants to drive (george said the flight had an intense smell where he was cuz some lady filled three barf bags w/what they were intended for. not only the fragrance did he have to contend w/but also the delicate soundtrack that also accompanied it). trouble is, what a chicane to get to the united terminal where dancer's coming in an hour after us. loop after loop, pretty comical. finally, we find our way and in turn, find dancer. he's got the cymbals too. alright, all of us together. j drives us into paris.
it being sunday, we're really lucky on the traffic. easy to get into paris and only a couple of minor blow-bys to get to where we're staying, the hotel blanche fontaine on rue fontaine in the north part of paris. we pass by the venue where we're playing tomorrow night. it's called the _ elysee montmartre_ and the _queens of the stone age_ are playing there tonight. we've been invited to go. paris is a righteous town just to look at for me. incredible sights for my eyes. very curved and interesting streets, great broad buildings w/a distinctive look. this is the red light district so there's lots of sex shops and live shows - even the 'moulin rouge' w/its big red windmill, which is only a block from our hotel.
the jet lag hangs over us so we're trying real hard not to konk until tonight, after the gig. it's now noon. j says jim morrison is in the montmartre cemetery and we should go check that out. we walk up a hill and then we're there, damn it's like one of those boneyards in new orleans, all crypts. tons of them, some pretty old and some pretty new. how are we going to find him here? j asks a guard and gets a very negative response so we just wander. lots of trippy slabs and sepultures. some are like tiny little chapels you go into. lots of different decorations. sometimes skulls, sometimes hourgalsses w/wings, gates w/wings, owls, even miniature cathedrals w/gargoyles! we see truffaut's grave, a simple black slab. someone put a small chaplain doll by it. there's a bunch of math/science folks here, it says on a sign, like focault, fourier and ampere but we don't find there's. after a while, we give up and a different guard is on duty and I ask him. well, I don't have to ask - he looks right in my face and says "jim morrison?" damn. he points to a map of paris on the wall and says he's in another cemetery in the east of the town, pere lachaise. I come out of the office and say "wrong boneyard, boneheads!" that gets a good laugh out of jamie. we head south toward trinity church to get our asses worn out so we can get sueno tonight. the clock jamming us this quick into the future has disturbed the body cycles and we must get back on the right track. the wind is blowing pretty stiff so I split from the guys and get on my own. I can do my own pace and let my mind wander. this is the city of love and I have strong thoughts in my head and wanted to swirl in the newness to me of it all and not just march in a herd. no offense to the guys, I love them all dearly but watt just needs alone time on tour. even w/my own bands on my own tours. I mostly eat alone and here I get a gyro that's so great. lots of lamb and onions w/chili paste on pita w/tomatoes and lettuce. the dollar gets almost eight francs right now so us americans get some good value. three bucks for this righteous chow. I walk around and check stuff out then go back to the ho and stop for a second. I tell myself I'm just gonna rest my eyes a second and damn if I ain't konked for like an hour! I shake myself hard and get some espresso next door - I must fight the lag and stay awake. force the eyes open, watt!
ann-marie, sister of kevin shields, who helped j w/his "more light" record (he's got a band called "my bloody valentine" too) has a band on her label called the _snake river conspiracy_ and she wants us to see them, they're on a seven so I head to the venue. I get invited to the stone age queens room and there's lots of mota. I get to meet all of them, they're quite nice guys. I've met josh before, he did second guitar w/the screeming trees one time when the black gang opened up for them a couple of years ago. he asks about nels. we both agree that cat can jam! we talk a lot about stooges. the drummer knows nicky beat, the old weirdos stickman. we all start talking lots about stooges, josh is way into mr. rock actions fills and come-ins. the shit's wild. damn, I miss that first band ann-marie wanted me to see, I'm so caught up in spiel. the queens are a great band and I really dig their set. one cat, named brendan, plays lap steel and that swirls up some trippy textures. josh is both a great guitarist and singer, the guitar tone sounds just like the first _wire_ album - whoa! I'm into their gig and when they're done, tell them so. they gotta drive to hamburg so only a little time. I feel inspired for tomorrow night. so much in fact, I have a little whisky - not a lot (hell, it's jack daniels - p'tooey...) but a little where I've been pretty dry these days. more talk about stooges. the box set of "fun house" where there's every take. josh digs that one too. time to bail and we walk back to the ho. a little later, I'm on the deck ready for konk. I do some postcards first. it's only ten! oh well, I've held out this long (except for that one small lapse) - time to let the snores usher forth. george wants to take a walk to tire his ass out and of course I'm in the way of the hatch when he comes back. a couple of head blows and I let him in somehow in my sleep. he says I kept asking for potato chips. what kind of dream was that?
read week 4 of the tour diary
read week 6 of the tour diary
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