j mascis and the fog
j mascis - guitar, singing
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff
eric fischer - tour boss
jamie - soundman
tim - helper man
steve kaul - the man outside the van
monday, november 27, 2000 - paris, france
two in the morning and eric's up showering, futzing around - he's get's dressed and leaves, what the fuck? I'm on the deck by the front hatch and he has to step over me to get in the head. speedbump. this jetlag is bad though. I'm up now and can't konk no matter how I try. went under at ten too. I try for a couple of hours but it's useless so I get the 'puter and do some diary. finally, around six, I can't take it any more and get dressed and go downstairs. george is already there, chowing. I go get a pitchfork snowshovel (figuratively) and join him. great, I forgot that ho's in europe have "continental breakfasts" gratis. funny, there's some euros there and these cats are pecking at tiny portions like birds while me and george are just throwing it down - eggs, breads, yogurt, cereal, dates, prunes, muesilx, multiple types (and consistencies) of cheeses, salami, ham, tea(s), coffee - damn, I feel like vince (pair of pliers drummer) writing about his favorite diary item, chow! I pack the gut tight and then head out to the rue (street) - it's still fucking dark! wow, the post office is open this early so I send some cards back to states. then it's time for my journey, I am going to see this town.
first thing is to try this metro system. it's paris' subway system. I look up the hill though and have a walk up it. I see the basilique du sacre-couer, whoa! up tons of stairs and what a view of the town if you look south. damn, the whole enchilada! I go inside and check that out. pretty much catholic, I remember back when I was a kid. I always like part six of stations, that's where veronica gets the chuy's image in her scarf when she wipes out the loogies. speaking of loogies, j's been hacking up a ton of them - I hope he gets better. back down the hill and I get on the 'four' line at rochechouart and take it south. only eight francs (about a dollar) and man, is it quiet. rubber wheels. trains every few minutes too. much better than that nyc system. I get off at halls, near the seine (this town's big river). go upstairs and wow, what a canvas for the eyes. my hull-head if flooded w/these sights. west on rivoli, a big boulevard w/lots of stores, not so neat - kind of mersh. up comes the palais de louvre and I go into a gate and enter the courtyard. huge fucking building w/walls all around except for a way to the west. statues of famous french cats in their history up by the roofs, lots of roman-type statues on the grass. a giant glass pyramid for the louvre musem entrance. not enough time in a day (or two) to see this stuff proper so I remain on the ouside and continue west (ouest) through the jardin des tuilleries. all righteous sites here, this art, sculpture and landscaping. then some arch to napoleon and then a giant ferris wheel. an ancient egypt monument, the oblisque makes me stare for a while, damn. the concorde leads to the avenue des champ-elysees, one wailer of a boulevard. really wide and lots of money showing. the parking lot entrances are on the sidewalks and people drive right up and in. trippy. I go all the way to the arc de triomphe, something the romans built. it's pretty incredible to look at, whoa. I take a walking tunnel under it and then turn south on avenue marceau to the seine. from there, I walk east along side it towards ile de la cite, where notre-dame is. the seine is one brown, muddy river that really jams w/some current. lots of houseboat/barges are tied up on her sides. across you can see the other side of town, I have no time to check out any of that. I can see the national assembly building though. a little past that, I'm going by the louvre again, and see the door of the lions. further I take the bridge to the little island where the cathedral at notre-dame is. this is an incredible building. damn, all the figures and faces carved in this. I get some mini cohibas at a tobak store, about eight bucks for twenty cigarillos. looking up and the bell towers, you can see those famous gargoyles looking over the town. there's gargoyle water spouts all around the roof too. the doorways have real trippy scenes carved around them. one's the last judgement w/souls getting weighed. some little demon dude is pulling one scale down tipped for you-know-what's side. there's saints too. my favorite is the one who's got a halo around where his head should be but his head is in his hands. this cat was painted up in the sacre coeur too. big, big line to get in so fuck that. there's a four train stop for the metro and I take that back up to rochechourart. holy smoke - eight straight hours of hoofing! worth it though, what a ton of eye gifts.
I go straight to the venue, the _elysee montmartre_ and see dancer along w/jamie setting up the gear. rental stuff from england. they said they had a marshall 2x15 but what we got is a mesa boogie 2x15. purple duct tape right away over the logo. pretty well rattled when I play through it. george has a gretch kit. at first he hates but then digs it. wrong heads though. j's got two full stacks and a fender tone-king. he said he saw the who just before tour and townshend was playing one and he dug it. sounds fatter than the concert. he's got it up on the side in front of him facing his way, like a monitor. he likes things LOUD! this is a real big stage and kind of dead cuz of some rubber stuff on it. we do soundcheck and then I spiel w/a journalist, j is hacking up pretty bad. he says we should do lots of stooges tonight, his voice is really hurting. we put four of them on. there's tv cameras set up to record the show. time to play and after about three tunes, I feel the results of heavy jet lag and major walking around. it seems like I'm empty and bottomed out. the lights are hot and I sweat everything quick. it's sort of like playing up on a mountain where the air is thin. j is playing great though as is george. damn, to think george was just on the couch, laying there all hurt. both of them are kicking it up, great gig. my first one in france ever, thank you guys. we do the stooges' "real cool time" for the first time on this tour. big jam. near the end of the set, I am just so diminished and feeble. I give it my all and do pull it out. whew. we go back for an encore and the last tune is a blast-off version of another stooges' kick-out, "no fun." I give every bit my depleted gas tank can give me - I'm running on fumes now. as soon as I get off the stage I start cramping up big time. it's the arches of my feet and especially my fingers and hands. damn. real hard to poke holes in the orangina can (I can't hold the pen that I'm using to do it w/hardly) but george has some hash that might help. j sweated his shirt for the first time on this tour! george is pretty wet too. yes! a guy from j's label here, jean-michelle and two of his friends has a talk w/us. everyone's going to go chow but not me, I'm heading back to the ho. sure, it's only eleven-thirty but I'm beat. it must've rained during the gig cuz everything's all wet. so sunny and nice during the day too. my entire outfit is soaked and my sore bones have a tough time dragging me down past all this sex shops. am I fatigued! this is good though cuz now I'll be on european time for sure. no way will I stay up and sure enough, when I get back and in the room, it's a matter of moments before I'm out cold. of course, since I'm in the doorway, when eric and george do finally come back, they have to walk over me. a few boots in the head and I'm awake. on my back w/my feet and hands up like a dog, I am fully cramped up. my arches and palms are in full contraction. I ask george for more of his medicine but within seconds, I'm unconscious and konked for good.
tuesday, november 28, 2000 - montmalian, france
yes, I did it. I've acclimated to these europe time. I wake up at almost nine, that's a bunch of hours of konk and is in line w/the sun here. jet downstairs and join george in another morning shoveling session w/the chow. no rain, great. I walk to the le poste to mail off my last french mail. a few days now w/no internet link, I think it's gonna be tough to use the 'puter to reach people for this europe stuff. maybe web email if I can just find an internet machine, like in a cybercafe or something. I couldn't find anything where I'd had been in paris. just like the old days, only postcards to keep a tether tied.
dancer and jamie are going to ride in a van rented from england w/the quipment, a mercedes panel van (mercedes makes all kinds of stuff here in europe including econo transport vehicles like this). rightside drive though so whoever's in the passenger seat gets the jeebies bad. us other four (eric, george, j and myself) ride in a smaller van, a volkswagon combi 1000. we go through paris, past the bastille and get on the a6 autoroute (major highway) towards lyon. pretty countryside, farms and small town along the way. some douanes (border) police pull us over to inspect the equipment truck (british plates) and let us go after a small check of dancer and jamie's personal bags. no biggy. just making sure the carnet (equipment manifest) is in order. we're soon back on our way. eric's driving, j's konked and george is listening to "fun house" over headphones. earlier, dancer said it's gonna be crazy just being in van w/jamie - they're going to kill each other. I tell him to hang on, it's only twelve more days.
we're listening to cds from j, like _blind faith_ and the best of _traffic_. maybe we'll do a couple songs for that john peel thing that's coming up. j really digs steve winwood. george is listening to the stooges' "fun house" record over headphones. we definitely want to do more of those! it's funky driving up front in the passenger seat of this van - no leg room at all, like I'm flying coach. damn. things could be worse though. like I said, beautiful countryside and a righteous sunset, all bright magenta/purple between dark bans of blue clouds. we stop for gas and look what they got for sale here - 'dines! I get a tin w/olive oil. I add some of the habanero spiked pico pica don in salt lake fixed up for me and it's tasting good. some bad news though. somewhere after lyon we lost the equipment truck w/dancer and jamie. these directions though are for shit. like go east then southeast two hundred or four hundred feet. the europe highway signs don't ever say north or south, they usually only have the destination town and maybe one numeric designation. w/out a map it would be really tough and they don't have one. it was tough for us to find this little town, montmalian - it's by albertville, where there was some winter olympics were held. glad it's not snowing now. they show up later and report the tranny on the equipment van is for shit - they can't use any gear except for fourth. aaarrrgggghhhhh. what hell. we'll look at in the morning. I just want to ring the fucking necks of these assholes renting us shit for shank, how can they live w/themselves? on the deck in the comfort inn, george makes a leno of tobacco and hay-sh. I don't smoke cigarettes so each hit brings a giant headrush that sends me down. a couple of these and I'm on the deck for good, pulling away from the station and into sleepytown.
wednesday, november 29, 2000 - milano, italy
aaarrgggghhhh, another bout w/the jetlag. I wake at four in the morning and just lie there, thinking. damn, I thought I had this beat after the konk in paris. nope, denied. at seven, I take a shower and then head down to the salon for chow. j is already there, he's been up too and could jam on his guitar only so long. I shovel down lots of good chow - pretty much like yesterday morning. this is good stuff. I dig it.
the plan is to leave eric and dancer w/this fucked up equipment van and the rest of us will load up the passenger van w/as much as we can get aboard to make a gig tonight in milano. we take the backseat out of it and stuff a marshall amp and cabinet each for me and j and two of his jazzmaster guitars. the drums go where there's room left. hardware out of the case and stuffed in the cracks. I have to carry my bass up front w/out a case. we head for italy. eric and dancer will wait for someone from a mercedes garage (the shitvan is a mercedes) and try to get to milano when they can. our journey through these mountains is really beautiful. lots of snow on their sides but not bad on the road at all, we're lucky - the sun's nice and bright. there's a few tunnels and boy, is the air bad in those, the fumes are breaking my heart in there. lots of peyage (tolls) and we're out of francs. j pays for the last one w/his credit card. through the tunnel de frejus and we're into italy, home of my mother's people. her ma was from dolemite and her pop from sicilian stock. great! lots of old castles and forts on the mountains. we stop and get lire for their pedaggios (tolls). lots of tolls in europe to use the highways (autoroute in france, autostrade in italy). some of the ones in france were like twenty dollars. the van uses diesel (gasoil) and that's about three dollars a gallon. there's a discussion brought up by george on how much more relaxed the sex thing is here in europe w/showing girls w/their tops off in advertizing. I think he's right but it's kind of superficial. it doesn't make their land that much better. well at least it's natural and not full of silicone like in the states. this is not the first time I've heard this, in fact, everytime we pass a billboard I have to hear it over and over. I'm getting kind of tired of hearing it, like I just want to say "so what, what else is new?" we pass through torino and on to milano. these directions are for shit, what crap. we just head for the center of town and by some miracle, we end up on the right road, taking us to the main train station where the club is. it's called _tunnel_ and it's actually in the side of the station, near the end. it takes a few blow-bys but finally we make it. ok, we're here and yes, they have a 'puter w/online access. a mac too. finally I can do email for the first time in five days! the keyboard is laid out different than ours though. the period needs a shift, parenthesis don't, the 'w' and 'z' keys are switched - things like that. trippy. I make some key emails but it's web-based, I don't have access to my isp here in europe. can't update the hoot page, damn. we unload our little minimal setup and prepare. no opening band, that happens a lot in europe. we put each of our 4x12 cabs on top of the cases to help us hear a little better. the sound is going to be all in jamie's hands tonight, not much coming from the stage out of us - it'll be all p.a.
after a short soundcheck, we go to chow down the street. a pad run by asian folks, trippy to hear them speak italian. preconceptions are ridiculous, serves me right. I really, really dig italian chow, we all do - especially j. he tells me he's got a relative who was a pope in the fifteen hundreds. whoa. I have a little pizza w/mushrooms (italian: "fungi") first. they have really good, thin crust w/minimal sauce - nothing like a u.s. pizza - and then mushrooms on top. I eat half of it, can't get too plugged for the gig. then I have something that translates to "swordfish w/rocket." turns out to be a sauteed fillet of swordfish w/some leafy kind of tops (maybe kale or something?) on top. tastes incredible. mmmmm. then it's back to the pad for the gig.
the owner there, who I never get to learn his name gives me some spiel on italian politics. I love hearing about this every time I'm over here in europe. the right wing was in power a few years before and some of them in their alliance even wanted to split italy into a northern and southern halves. they got the richest man in italy elected prime minister and then he was thrown out for corruption. the center-left came to power by bringing italy into the european community. now it looks like they're gonna lose cuz the left people will not vote - they think that this group is trying to be more powerful by adopting right wing stuff. I ask him if he thinks there's left wing and right wing in america? he laughs. I tell him I don't think so. sure, there are labels the press uses and those running for office use to call each other names but do they mean anything? I don't believe so. the are certain issues people have views on but is this enough to say there's a whole strain of political orthodoxy or ideology based on these old tags? liberal and conservative, I get the same feel too except maybe this is a little easier to pin the tail on the donkey on a case by case thing. I think the reality is that people are liberal about some things and conservative about others and at maybe it's different at different times in their lives. I am thinking about things more in "front seat" and "back seat." some folks want to be driven around and others want a hand on the wheel. I think autonomy is an important issue too that anyone can relate to. how the enviroment and resources are managed are important too. it is time for bold thinking that is rigorous. there are also wheels within wheels and parallel universes, etc... art is a big part of our life and it shouldn't just be left to advertising and marketing people. I'm glad this cat got me thinking about these things. you get pretty out of touch on tour when you don't have your newspaper to read in the morning or friends to discuss these kind of things.
there's a little chamber behind the stage w/just a curtain in front of it. it's got a curved roof and is like a tiny section of a train tunnel. I find j konked on the deck there. he's learning from watt?! there's no opening band and we're going on at nine-thirty, this is italy! ok w/me. the p.a. looks ok too - in the old days, you can imagine what kind of toy systems bands had to deal w/here. things are coming along. we go on and the pad is packed and these folks aren't afraid to show their emotions. j and george are really playing good, despite all the whatever. it's great to see how far we've come since this tour started. they're both playing great and the crowd is so very appreciative. I love the way folks say 'mike' w/italian accents, love it! cuz j only has two guitars, there's real good flow w/the set. also, j wrote a real good one w/great hills and valleys. at the end, we just don't do "tv eye" like every night but also do the stooges' "loose" right before it. george blows some clams in it but at least we break the water by doing it. people are throwing notes up on the stage, like one that reads "over the top, people" - oh boy. lots of pits forming, funny. I can't hardly hear anything, this marshall has such little sound. it goes good w/the sunn driving a cab for some bottom but by itself, muy poquito. whatever, I'm also in a direct box going through a p.a. and I'm hoping jamie can get me out there to help things sound good. the point here is not to make sure the bass is roaring over everything but rather to aid and abet in an effort to make things here sound way out and crazy, to put folks in a certain place and maybe help blow their minds a little. it's a much different situation than me playing w/the _black gang_ or the _pair of pliers_ but that's the idea, to put myself in a different place and see if I can hang, grow and learn. we come off and do an encore of "no fun" again and that's fun (!), better even than the paris one. I can tell j digs playing this one. four stooges songs again (of course we did "not right," another favorite of his we do every night), I'm really into it. god bless the stooges!
eric and dancer are still missing so j has me sling shirts from the stage when we're done. I sell almost all of them. I would sold all of them but the club people rolled the barricade out like a squeegie and pushed all the people out. that was a trip to see. it's almost twentythree hundred lire to the dollar and I sold them for twenty thousand lire. quite a bargain but there was no real time to make change. my outfit is quit soaked and all my clothes are in the equipment van, aaarrrrggghhhhh. it was quite hot during the gig w/all the bodies and I shook myself quite hard also. on the floor, I sign many autographs and talk w/many happy italians. one says to j, "kiss me, I want your germs." that's funny. an old friend, carlo, gives me two books by umberto eco, both in italian. one is one of my favorites, "the island of the day before" and one that's brand new from him, "baudolino." god, do I wish I could read this beautiful language. it's so good to see carlo again - he now works for a publishing house that does eco's books. thank you, carlo. vera and gessila, who saw me last time I played in the area say hi and take pictures. I still have the pasta box where they wrote me a letter on the back. they want to know why j is shy. what can I say? they love the little bass and the compass picture on it. we pack up the band and the show's promoter, franco, takes us to the ho, which is kind of far and finally I can get out of this soaked levi and flannel. still no eric and dancer, I hope they're ok. I think of the fun I had tonight but also of their safety as konk takes me. the last I remember is the trippy blankey I'm using - it looks like a ham w/a net on it and cloves stuck in. trippy. good night italia.
thursday, november 30, 2000 - munich, germany
pop and shower off last night's show. boy, was that fun last night. george tells me he got a call last night at like three a.m. and it was eric and dancer - they finally made it here safe. great. we're whole as a team once more. they got the equipment van replaced w/one from avis. big drive to munich today, we gotta bail soon. it's a hellride to get out of town, takes like an hour. then it's on to the autostrade and those guys aren't behind us. we pull over by the onramp you're supposed to take north to como and see them guys blow by. oh well. we continue on. damn. north through como into sitzerland. those w/the maroon berets (swiss border guards) let us through easy. pay the man w/the blue beret, get a highway sticker for the windshield. onward through "the sound of music" land. alps and valleys all around, very picturesque. quite. old buildings to store chow for the sheep that graze around. the grass, a bright green, the mountains are iced like cakes w/snow. the little van takes the grades easy, j is whipping us up on through. make a stop for george to piss and no one's at the station, no matter - you can feed bills in like a vending machine and get gas. out through the italian speaking canton of switerland and into the german speaking one. we run along the boreder w/austria, then come up on the tiny country of lietchenstein. we stay in switzerland and skirt it to the west. then a little bit of austria. we get an austrian highway sticker for our windshield, again an easy border crossing for us. so much better than in the old days where each crossing was a nightmare. like I said, austria only for a little while and then into germany. the alps behind us but still a pretty ride, through green vales and huge forests. another piss stop at a rasthof and j gets his favorite candy, 'freddy ferkels,' a type of chewy, gummi treat. they're shaped like the face of a pig. he chows them up big time. they taste ok, I have a couple.
finally, after eight hours, we make it to munich (or in their language, munchen, hence j's name for them, "munchkins") but the traffic is a major plug and it's another hour wading through that shit. george is at the wheel now and using the clutch in the bumper-to-bumper is wearing him out. he does good though and gets us to the pad, one I played on my last europe tour, _metropolis_, a pad on the east side of town in an amusement park type area. there's other venues and gambling pads also. here's the first of the gigs here where you are met w/a huge chow set-up when you arrive. breads, cheeses, meats, fruits, cereals, juices, you name it... tons of chow. it's easy to put on pounds big time when you play germany, no problem. tons of candy too along w/chips and nuts, it's crazy. thousands and thousands of calories on the table. of course we start shoveling immediately. why eat dinner after all this? I keep my buy out money for that reason. jamie and dancer are late cuz of the blow-by and other get-lostness. we don't get soundcheck cuz of this, oh well. it's not a very good sounding venue anyway, a problem w/playing germany. there's a german band called _scumbucket_ that's playing these four german gigs w/us and they sound real muddy, like a wet blanket thrown over them and their amps. they're nice guys, it's a pity. I get jamie out on the balcony to hear. he agrees. maybe he can do something w/our set. they place is packed. my austrian friend rupert, who had a big interview w/me last time I was in austria (innsbruck) has a big talk w/me while they play. he wants to know about the sickness I went through and what are my future plans. I tell him: an organ-bass-drum record for columbia in the summer, the fourth _dos_ album w/kira, a second _li'l pit_ recording for an e.p. (this is the band where I play standup bass w/thalia and perkins. this time petra is going to play violin w/us instead of having leo on clarinet), a _pair of pliers_ single for bill (button causey), gigs w/_banyan_, _madonnabes_ and _we go speedro_ (where I get to play stooges w/two pedro longshoremen friends). later next year is an album each w/the _pair of pliers_ (tom and vince) and the _black gang_ (nels and bob lee) for joe carducci. also, a book of my minutemen lyrics along w/a tour diary of us and _black flag_ in winter, 1983 in both english and french (it's gonna be from a montreal publisher). full plate, huh? I want to get a lot done. I also want to start a project called _shinypants_ where I play my bass to keyboard. laying there dying on my back during that sickness really got me jammed up urgent to get stuff going if I made it through. well, I did and now I'm going to do. first, all these gigs to get my playing back. I feel so fortunate to have another chance.
our turn, we start out w/"severed lips" so jamie can try and get the sound early (remember, no soundcheck). sounds like the monitors are all burned up cuz it's pretty transistor radio-like. j is ripping it up, playing really good. george too. we had a lot of fun last night in italy and now, getting to play w/our full equipment but still carrying over that vibe, it's real fun. hope it sounds ok, you can never tell on stage. there's some stage diving, whoa. that hasn't happened this tour. we end w/"no fun" again and that's a blast. no "loose" though, need another run-through on that. I really dig doing the stooges songs, I know j does too - he digs the asheton licks big-time. we get off stage and this cat comes back and confronts j w/some weird rap, like "why do you lack the self-confidence to play your love songs?" and "why did you not play songs five and six from the new record?" (actually, we did play six, "ammaring" - who refers to songs by the track number anyway?). this guy says to j in conlusion: "I come to see you one more time." spook case. pack up and head to the ho, I am soaked. like italy, outfit is drenched, head to toe. damn, I'm gonna catch pneumonia. the ho's close so I'm spared the big chill. thank you!
I get naked under this blankey, there's nothing dry for me, I spaced and left my clothes bag in the van, it's always got heaps of shit buried on it anyway. I think these people I'm touring w/think I wear the same stuff every day. well, I have had this brown insulated flannel on every day for a week now but that's not been by choice. plastic insulation too so it's really been a broth producer. no pillow and only a little bedspread for a blankey - I don't care, I'm just so beat. I really played hard tonight and konk comes like a sweetly swift kick upside the head.
friday, december 1, 2000 - berlin, germany
pop early and continue the continental breakfast shovelling tradition I started in france. damn, on tour in the u.s. I wasn't doing much of any breakfast and now it's like I'm using a skip-loader to fill this fucking gullet of mine. why? we gotta bail early cuz it's almost four hundred miles to berlin but no borders or alps. in germany here, a lot of the autobahn has no speed limit so you got motherfuckers really blowing down the road, like 140 to 170 miles an hour, I'm not kidding. this route is a lot more direct than the old days where you had to skirt the ddr (what we called east germany). there's a lot of open country in this part of germany. new factories in some places, giant windmills in a couple places too. stuff that looks like nukes too. we heard france had a lot of nukes but couldn't see them from the road when we drove through their land. one rasthof (road stop) has a couple of little 'lada' cars on it's roof. these were the little east bloc cars of the former days w/the plastic bodies. notorious smog breeders. some pretty big plugs on the road, some from construction, some from wrecks. these motherfuckers drive fast and when there's a move to pass a truck, the dice get rolled on what happens next. cars come wailing up in the fast lane - little dots become roaring mercedes or audis, damn. george gets us into town in the south part, where the berlin airlift happened, flughafen. the gig is there tonight at a pad called _columbia fritz_. whoa, 370 miles in under five hours w/traffic! have to tell you though, I cannot look out the windows when we drive. too fucking scary. lots of breaking, accelerating, quick moves, hard corners, etc... I don't have the stomach for it really. anyway, must divert my mind not to think of this. I guess the other idiots racing on makes things contagious. whatever. I thank my stars when we finally stop. I guess I must've konked for the last couple of hours. small mercy.
we meet the promoter of these four german gigs, nikolai, and he's a nice man. let's me use his computer to get some web access. I've been cut off except for the one time in italy since I've been in europe. only a few minutes though, he's got a lot of work to do himself. j has a lot of friends in this town and some come to visit. his girlfriend luisa's brother philip. an american who used to tech for the s. youth crew, keith. others too where I can't recall their names, I have such a bad way w/that. I feel like wearing all blue and I do, blue levis and a blue flannel. I hope I can find a laundromat soon, running short on the outfits. all these latest gigs have been full sweat-out. total.
again, the table is laid out for slaughter and the shovelling begins. damn, there's no way I'm gonna chow a real dinner after putting away the "snacks" - bread, cheese, chips, cereals, yogurts, fruits, salads, nuts, candies, aaarrrggghhh! does taste good though. I talk to a lot of different people includeing the folks from city slang, who are the label that's putting out j's record here. very nice.
scumbucket gets done w/their set and we're next. the sound is atrocious. boy, is it bad. I wonder what it could be like for the crowd. it's a good full house and the response is great from them except for this one idiot. he keeps shaking j's microphone - in fact, he knocks it off the stand and to the ground a couple of times. he has an insane look on his face. he says he can't hear the singing. well, he's right at the front of the stage, too far in close for the side speakers. j turns one of his monitor wedges towards him and I do the same. the guy is still acting like an asshole. finally, he gets thrown out. he tried his hardest to ruin the gig for everyone. kind of selfish. was it the magic of alcohol or was he just deranged? no time to know, we have a gig to do. I blow some clams but recover quickly, some creaking in the brain for watt. damn, I'm fighting so hard against that. there are people filming on stage, the clams are immortalized. oh well. I can see dancer is kind of freaked out cuz of that scene w/the troublemaker, I feel bad for him. it's not like we want him to fight for us or anything like that. it just seems so unfair that one asshole can help ruin it for everyone. maybe the dancer could've reasoned w/him - I guess in english. he was behind the amps prepping j's guitars anyway so I don't know if he even saw what was happening at first. we finish up w/an enocore after the set and all agree it was a tough gig. boy, was the sound bad. even jamie comes backstage after and says it was a hard job to do. some cats have me sign their watt records when I go back out to help pack up. that's nice. I'm here to help j though it's neat to have folks recognize you for the some of the stuff you've done on your own too. I want to say for that for this tour, if people think I'm helping out the sound here and making for an interesting way for j to do a good show then I have succeeded in what I've come to do, I couldn't ask for more.
backstage there's a lot of talking and hanging out, like I said, j has a lot of buddies here. this lady says hi to me and asks me to remember the last tour fIREHOSE did of europe. it was 1991. for the german gigs, we played w/an all-girl german band and this lady, who's name is barbara, played guitar for them. _the slags_ was their name. she plays in a disco band and a country one now days. george rolls some mota, they have leaf now in europe. more spiel and then finally we head for the ho, it's from the same chain we stayed at in milano, the mercur and it's not too far from the venue. my clothes are soaked and it's good to get them off me, especially w/this damp, cold air. so good to have the head make contact w/pillow and have the deck connect w/the body. I hear george flipping through the channels of the television and laughing at shit like cowboys w/overdubbed german and a naked lady getting dressed as I do what you call here in deutschland, schlafen. schlafen big-time.
saturday, december 2, 2000 - berlin, germany
I think I have a another attack from the sickness bugs again cuz I pop w/a head full of mocos and congestion. no gig tonight (a saturday too, damn) so I'm taking it easy and just laying here for a while. no drive too, whoa. philip has invited j and us to a party at his house tonight. he lives in a berlin suburb called hermsdorf. first, we'll chow at six w/the label - they want to take us out.
first, time on my own to hoof. wish I had my pedaler, I see bike paths everywhere. we're by the former east zone and I first hoof down hermannstrasse platz. on my way, I pass a boneyard. there's a cat there walking his dog that's the spitting image of iggy pop, I swear. short but solid build, lines around the mouth, everything. he's got a loose fitting purple denim jacket on. I just can't get the nerve up to ask him and make sure. like maybe say "hey, I was part of a band that did three of your songs last night, thank you" but the coward in me wins out, I'm speechless and walk on. my mind will continually wonder about this all day. was it him? a ghost? I walk towards kreuzberg and find a record store that has this double cd of t. rex for twelve marks. that's less than six dollars now. I buy it. I get a rostbratwurst too. it must stick out of the bread like four inches on both sides, it's a trip. tastes ok. the sun is out but things are a little chilly so I got my pea coat and heavy gloves on. got these gloves in nebraska and they're pretty bounused up, thought they were took thick but don't think so now. I'm looking for a laundromat, just gotta find one. damn, nothing. I turn east and head towards karl-marx strasse. pretty funny, the streets all department stores, jewelry shops and about as mersh as you can find a street. I don't know what the name's about. must be left from the old days and now kept on as a joke. wow, this one shop has lots of amethyst, purple. ha, wouldn't j dig living in a pad made of this stuff!
get back to the ho. well, that was a good four hour stroll. j's been at keith's and they come by to gather us for dinner. we go to this indian chow pad in kreuzberg and boy, is it good. I'm not used to eating this chow but love it every time I do. I have this duck and curry thing along w/spinich that's got hunks of cheese in it. the spices are a trip, different sensations for watt's taste buds. I dig it. the nan bread too, damn. I get really good and stuffed - I can barely move, whoa! this should've been for thanksgiving. I think of my friends I know who had great chows that day. I was making a hellride between dallas and new orleans but hey, that's what tour's about. working the towns playing for people. everything else is secondary. my thanksgiving just came a little later this year. the lady from the label, pia, has taken us to do this chow and we thank her very much. then it's a drive out to the 'burbs for philip's pad and the party.
we're the first ones there and guess what the tabel's full of? chow! damn, the shovelling never ends. I borrow a ramrod to get more in the gullet. seriously, it's been a fucking force-feed since we've hit the continent. got to regain control. I can't understand it really cuz mostly I'm too nervous to eat a bunch on tour. anyway, a sack of 'paprika' potato chips later and a bunch of gerkins later, a dj is blasting a load of 70s funk from some setup. it's loud. it's nothing compared to when philip takes command of it a blasts the wipers at hyper-volume. I'm sitting in the room where it's emanating and I'm blasted against the wall on a little bench. wow, is it loud. he's jamming many kinds of music now, really loud - a lot of them are mp3 files from a powerbook. never seen party music this way. the modern age. the folks here are friendly and we have a nice time. thank you philip and romi. I don't really talk to many people, the music is so loud, I'm mainly into trying to absorb that. all of other team is in another room talking on couches but I'm a little too shy for that. it gets after two and we pile in the van and head back to our hotel in berlin. bye hermsdorf. it's almost an hour to drive back and everyone's snoring like champs and looking like flytraps w/the mouths hanging open and the heads tilted back. pretty funny. only a slight number of moves are required to change the body positions and the konking resumes in the ho rooms. guten nacht.
sunday, december 3, 2000 - hamburg, germany
pop early and start hoofing. even though it's chilly, the sun is out bright and if you stay out of the shadows it feels great to have it shine on you. I call back to pedro at one of these places where you can make calls econo. I want to make sure things are ok. so long away and all the mail piles up, etc... I have pedro friends to help me but it's strange, the first tour where my pad is completely empty when I'm gone on tour. no cat spirit to fill it w/some life. strange for me. it was eerie when I was home a couple days when we played the _troubador_ in west hollywood, the emptyness of my apartment seemed so huge when I opened the hatch and walked in. almost like a cold grip on my shoulder.
up and down the hermannstrasse and there's just no washing places open. I'm stuck w/a bag full of filthy outfits. it is sunday, what was I thinking? should've got this happening yesterday, damn there was no gig. stupid watt. I walk by that boneyard again hoping to see if that iggy-looking cat shows up but no luck there either. I wonder if that was him. too crazy.
checkout time and j's driving us west towards hamburg. philip's pad is on the way and we stop there. the pad is in pretty good shape for such that went on the night before and philip is konked cold but pops just for us. we have some coffee. maybe we see him in london for j's birthday party. I think I eat another whole bag of potato chips. I gotta knock this shit off, it's nuts! george has been having the mota going though and I know that's been adding to the shovel hankering. the worst is when he puts it w/tobacco, the way the europe cats like to do it. aaarrggghhh, what a light-headed spin that gives you. makes me unsure on the feet, not my thing. anyway, I feel safe w/j driving. he gets us to hamburg w/out incident. this is a harbor town and it sort of remings me of pedro. a bunch colder though. we're playing the _markthalle_ which is by the train station. I first played here w/the minutemen (opening for black flag) in february of 1983. it's laid out kind of trippy, like you're at one end of a gymnasium. people sit on bleecher-like kind of benches. of course, true to form, as soon as we show up, what do we find more tables set up for shovelling! oh my, another gorging. this has got to stop. again, scumbucket is the opener and they play their set. our turn and the place is full. all that cold from the outside is nowhere to be found in here. lots of warm breath and bodies. we start our set and it's going good but by the third song, this piece of shit mesa boogie cabinet we rented for me to use has blown one of it's speakers. I try to get the dancer's attention but he's confused by what I mean. I keep pointing at the blown speaker and he finally grasps the need to maybe put the mic on the speaker below it. a couple more tunes and that's gone too. damn. I'm just playing through the marshall now. the monitor man puts my bass into the sidefills but he's taking it from the direct signal and not from a mic. when it's done like this, the p.a. sees a straight line, right from my bass - no compression or anything so when I come down on the strings (and I come down hard - even w/a pick), it's a total 'dink' or as j will later say, 'plink.' it's killing him, I can tell. hell, he even comes up to me and tells me. I ask the monitor cat to please take it out of the system, what the hay, I'll just mime it, that's showbiz. hopefully jamie is getting it out front, you can never tell from on stage. we get done and come off stage and I can visibly see j's head ringing from the 'plinks.' when we come back out for encores, I go up to the mic and say "hi, I'm mr. plinky." some kid in the crowd yells "keep on plinkin'." man, if he only knew. we do the stooges' "no fun" and it's a major freak out. freak out. for another day. freak out.
good to say hi to the promoter michael, he first saw me play when he was seventeen. good to say hi to all the crew, all these europe cats really help out and are minimal on the 'tude, which I really dig. lots of respect to all of them. there's an american stagehand here at the markthalle and he gets george some mota. we get to the ho which isn't too far and right in the st. pauli part of town. there's a street running through it that some folks know, it's called the reeperbahn. this ho has a bar made from an old ship and looks really neat. I check it out. I'm too tired and there's bugs at the gate, trying to get into watt and infect him so no reeperbahn for me. eric and george go to have some drinks. I know you're supposed to tear shit up when you're here but I've never much lived up to any kind of expectations anyway, especially those rock and roll. I do know I'm weak right now and have to circle the wagons. no aches in the bones yet but I'm feeling that sore spot in the throat again. these rooms are huge and I just spread out in the middle, my arms and legs out like that da vinci drawing - blankey draped on me. two pillows even tonight. I like the deck but dig having the head propped. you wake up w/less pimples on the side of the head, I've found. we're right by the water, tomorrow morning I'll have a big walk. now, only sleep now and water dreams bringing me thoughts of pedro, that town of mine next to other water. in the long run though, same water, huh?
monday, december 4, 2000 - cologne, germany
I pop early and it's cold. way cold. wet cold. I bundle up in some significant layers. I make the walk down from the hill where the ho is and the whole waterfront reminds me kind of my town, pedro. they don't have as many container ships, cranes and those kind of docks but they do have piers and some neat boats. it's an old waterfront, you can tell. not broken down or like a dump though but just something about the stones in the road. there's a lighthouse boat, I dig that. they've made it into some kind of restaurant. there's a tall ship too, its sails now all stowed by the masts standing high. what a job to get one of those to work. much team effort. sort of like cats playing a symphony. I walk all along the docks for a long way. the channel to the sea becomes the elbe river. I see some squatter pads, they're painted up wild. it's a trip how they can be right next to some squarejohn pad. this is by the water here is where hamburg had their old fish market. to think what these old cobblestones have seen. I get some cigars at tobacco shop - five for eight marks, not bad, maybe four dollars u.s. they're good ones even though they're no-name, no even a band. all right. I'm wearing these heavy gloves and it's hard to hold the plug so I mainly gotta keep it in my word hole. the sun is so righteous over the harbor, the cold finds no place in this idea furnace in my head. it got me full of thoughts, I can almost see her face. whoa, two and a half hours - time to get back to ho. fill out a post card quick. to sit on this bench w/the sea in my lungs and write, even w/the huge, clumsy gloves seems such a privilege for this pedro man. I tell the sky "thank you."
j drives. that's when I feel safest. no dishonor to any of the others who've had a hand on the wheel - I must say I haven't driven one fit this tour, no experience w/a trailer and I don't think this is the time to learn - but their ways scare the fuck out of me. don't dig it. too many chances get took. anyway, j brings us south into cologne (or koln, like the germans say it) and we're on the watch for some music stores to replace that blown piece of shit mesa boogie bass speaker box we rented from england. the idea is to get just another cabinet - why load the cabinet w/new speakers and try to get the money back at the end? those dicks will fuck w/us. better to get a cabinet that j can keep. in hamburg, we hit a place on the way out of town and they had nothing but told us of two places in cologne. when we get to one, it's like fourteen hundred dollars equivalent for a used svt - what a burn ward! fuck that. across the street, there's some newer type of marshall bass stuff, like a trace elliot type but it sounds horrible, pure crap. I tell j that junk would be a waste of money. there's only like five gigs anyway. I say how about just using a marshall guitar speaker bottom - four twelve in speakers. sure, it's for guitar and not very loud for bass but I can deal w/it and then j can use it after the tour. let me say this, I have tons of respect for mr. mascis and I'm not about to party on his money. I've seen pricks do this before, like w/perry. folks I love and dig (j, perry) getting dinero plucked and pilfered, just wasted sometimes cuz folks want to strut and swagger. they can do this on their own fucking dime, fuck that. shit, I'll play direct through a d.i. box w/out an amp if I have to - the job here is to help j make his sound come out smokin'.
the pad tonight is called the _prime club_ and what do you know, it's the old _luxor_ w/a new name. I've played here bunches. it's fun though there's a low stage so I don't know if folks in the very back will be able to see. the p.a. is quite a toy for the job. no matter, we'll try our best. it's our last gig w/the openers through germany, _scumbucket_. I know I haven't said much about them in these pages. they seem like nice cats and I wish them good luck. before their set, a lady comes back stage who says she's this word in german. she says it means a girlfriend of the guitarist's brother who has his baby but it is not married. she finds the wine and struggles to open it. no corkscrew. things are awkward. not for me, I don't care. I've never been into dressing room politics anyway, I'd rather be out w/the folks or konked in the boat. eventually things get to the point where eric is throwing this lady out and she's calling him an asshole and whatever. such hysterics. like there wouldn't be a better way to handle things. maybe it's the magic of alcohol. usually, our backstage is more than calm, us just listening to j prac on his little taylor guitar. man, you would think this cat was john coltrane, he pracs everywhere. the guitar is little so he can bring it wherever he goes. says he's working on his fingerpicking. he's a great jammer and I dig listening. I never get tired of it. you can tell if he wasn't acting it out w/his fingers, the shit would be firing it up in his head. I think j constantly has music flowing through him.
our gig is intense, the marshall guitar speaker works ok, though not much low end. the gig goes well and the crowd is way emotional. thank you cologne folks. I remember this ring-type road around town and guide us back easy to the ho. last night in germany is a good one. glad we could make the best of the bass situation too. if you keep your head, you got the best chance of floating over those speedbumps life throws in your way. tomorrow holland and hopefully I get to see jimbo. that would be very happening! I feel grateful and konk like a sack of bricks thrown overboard into the drink.
read week 5 of the tour diary
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