j mascis and the fog
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff
j mascis - guitar, singing
(left to right)
noel ford - soundman
tim "dancer" herzog - helper man
eric fischer - tour boss
steve kaul - the man outside the van
thursday, february 15, 2001 - osaka, japan
way early pop at like five in the morning. fuck trying to konk back, I make the only thing you get for free in these hos here, green and roasted tea. you get four bags so I make two cups w/two bags each. they got these electric kettles that always have hot water available so it's just like that to make the stuff. good and bitter. not the kick of coffee, different. I can dig it.
look out the window, whoa! twentyseven stories up and nagoya all spread out below. pretty snow-capped mountains in the back. still have to towel down all the condensation - boy, do these windows sweat. that reminds me, things can translate pretty funny over here, they sell a drink called "pocari sweat." it's something like what we call a sports drink (gatorade, etc.). can you imagine drinking the sweat of a pocora? whoa.
I find the "japan times" stuffed under the door. the east version of the "herald tribune" you find in europe? the big news is about that nuke sub, the uss greeneville, which did a test emergency surface off hawaii and sank a japanese fisheries training ship, the ehime maru, w/nine still missing (probably dead). also, trouble in okinowa w/the u.s. army - some soldier doing arson and a general writing emails calling okinowan officials "all nuts and a bunch of whimps." stupid shit, what's wrong w/us? - we wouldn't tolerate that crap coming our way. it's not _all_ about us though, their prime minister, mori, is accused of getting a forty million yen golf membership for free. such is the big news here.
I bail to forge for chow. I find some dried out squids and bowl of what we get in the u.s. as "top ramen" in a local version of the 7-11. this ramen is called "ufo" and what you do is pull up one flap of the bowl's lid and pour in hot water, wait three minutes and then pull up another flap opposite which has foil w/holes in it, like a colander and pour the water out - voila! ramen. I pour in some dave's and have a good "ramen sweat." mix in some of that dried squid and it becomes soft and chewy. only 250 yen total (about $2.50) - cheap for this economy.
then to the post office for some postcards. I get the japanese kind, where you write along the shorter width and down instead of the way we do it back home. that's a trip. not much time left, we have to take a train to osaka soon. of course, the window made for us to get to the station is fucking really tiny (why? today's a god damn day off - what a stupid fucking way to try to take it easy) and I gotta run w/this bag (funny how tour always makes your bag "grow" w/weight as the tour goes on - like a pregnancy coming to term) to make the train. this fucking infuriates me and makes me go off. that girl w/the camera/phone/watch is at the station, waiting for us. how did she know we were coming? is she a cop or what? fuck it - I let her take my picture again but she won't let me take hers. hmm. I take one of the machine on her wrist though.
the train ride takes about two hours. I take tons of snaps. we're not on a bullet train but it's still a smooth go and much gentler than back home (well, in the norhteast - I've never rode on a train in cali). way more industrialization down here (we're going south - why do we call 'south' 'down?' maybe cuz that's how the maps are oriented on the wall?) but still tons of farms and yes, driving ranges. putting pads too. some boneyards and shrines too, I've been looking for these. no green hills for boneyards, cement lots w/pillars. there's this one strange scene where someone made giant versions of the winged victory, venus di milo, the statue of liberty lady and a scaled down great pyramid - that's what I could see in the moment it flew by. trippy. j and george have a big talk on drums. I love listening to it. I tell them about billy (from the _descendents_) and travails, how he really hurt himself by pounding like a caveman. like w/my shit and the bass, I tell george as your body changes w/time, you have to change w/playing technique. either that or you'll have to stop and none of us wants to stop. elvin jones still going at seventythree, damn. someone to look up to.
we pull into osaka and here's the smog I've heard about. all flat and industrialized, not as pretty as where we've been. very gray. the sun's come out though it's still chilly. another fucking mad race to the hotel, which is part of the train station and mall - I'm getting the picture. I'm ready to fucking explode. why? I tell everyone that they're getting a break from watt real soon. _le tigre_ is playing this town tonight and when dancer calls me to come, I say no thank you. nothing personal but when shit gets like this, I need space. I'm still not that mature in lots of ways and I will go off. I am no shirker but when my chain gets yanked just to be yanked, my lip curls and eyes narrow. there's a solution: make a bigger time window, leave earlier. promote harmony w/bettter planning, inspire rather than beat-down w/dictates.
after some rest, I go walking. it's a lame part of town, gambling and party pads all around the ho, obviously for the tourists. I figure why not try a japanese burger, just to check it out - their version of 'mcpucks.' it's called "mos burger" and it costs 640 yen for a chilicheeseburger and fries. tiny little thing - no 'jumbo jack', that's for sure. the burger is some kind of meat loaf stuff. it's ok, on a par w/our shit. no more for me. at an am/pm, I get some pickled squid parts and a drink called "qoo" - a white grape flavored thing. this is for later. I go to my room. I didn't notice the drawer open. there's a gideon's new testament but also a book called "the teaching of buddha." I open it randomly and find this:
"suppose a log is floating in a river. if the log does not become grounded, or sink, or is not taken out by a man, or does not decay, ultimately it will reach the sea. life is like this log caught in the current of a great river."
I start to think on this and what do you know? even before it's dark, sueno descends on me and I konk like that. I mean, just like that log.
friday, february 16, 2001 - osaka, japan
pop at seven - damn, that's an eleven hour konk - what's up? I must've incurred some tiredness debt, huh? seems when the body gets the chance, payments on what's owed are made. shit though, I've been keeping really calm hours so I'm befuddled to know where this deficent is coming from. the jet lag thing seems beat too. bet I might sleep light tonight cuz of a surplus. wish I was more in touch w/what's going on inside me. weird how there's such lame communication that way. seems like there's the brain and then there's the mind - the connection between the two definitely eludes me. maybe those buddha thoughts brought some intense peace to the war-inside-the-head nature I find myself stuggling in, I don't know.
we leave early for the venue, like ten thirty in the morning. as I said, the ho is in a pretty residential area, once you clear the touristy stuff that surrounds the pad like a block-wide moat. eric tells me about this huge multi-floored department store inside this building but I never saw it. I bolted from the lobby right to the street and missed all of that. I ain't got that much hankering for mall action anyway.
tonight we're playing the _big cat_ in amemura part of osaka. this area is all kinds of tiny streets filled w/tons of shops and goes on for miles. there's a big statue of liberty on top of a building right near the club, good landmark for us as we hoof. lots of pads have u.s.-oriented names. like "south bronx," "rowdy dog," "black block," "sneaker town," etc. j and I go exploring. pretty intense, all the stuff the power poles carry, almost bowing w/the weight. the western influence is so intense: viton, gucci, chanel, you name it. what I'm saying is it's hard to find kimonos or cats w/rickshaws. these cats are way into importing their style abroad. of course, I don't have much experience here so my level of sophistication regarding understanding what's is pretty much suspect but on the surface, damn does it seem hard to find stuff japanese.
we go into a musical instrument store to check things out. j tells me fender's reissued the mustang bass. I find an orange one and ask to play it. same short scale as the little bass but if my eb-3 has a nut (the part near the headstock where the strings rest before going to the tuners) like a p-bass then this 'stang has one more like a jazz bass, it's narrower. I dig that. the less stretching my fingers have to do these days, the better. no pain is my gain when it comes to the paw joints. I want to keep bassin' it up 'til I drop - I don't want to have to quit cuz I hurt. I definitely want to check these machines out more. I like where the pickup is too. the little gibson has one by the bridge and one by the neck where the tiny fender has one spit one (to cancel hum) in a sweet spot near the middle of where those two are. I think one pickup gives you more punch, not having to deal w/the phasing problems of a duo setup. this talk might sound a little too bass in the head but then again, that's my main tool - it occupies some serious watt headroom. I don't obsess too much on it though, just always looking for something to help me down the road. they used to be a time when getting machines was much more a mania. that's older days now, I don't see the point as I've gotten older. maybe a victory over buy-buy-buy mind pollution? j sings some words of a pop group song out loud "consumer fascism, consumer fascism." poignant for watt.
we go into several shoe stores cuz j needs some new shoes. no size elevens in the kinds he wants anywhere. lots of funny girl boots that look like the platform stuff the cats in _kiss_ would wear though. boy, is that a trend here. I guess they dig feeling taller. these must be three or four inches high - they're intense!. they go up almost to the knee too. there's these huge malls that are like enclosed streets, it's amazing - on and on. I take bunches of shots, the locals who are very camera savvy, never get in the way - they always duck or avoid fucking up the shot. we go to this pad, "tokyo hands," some huge multi-floored hobby store to help w/my quest for some of the plastic chow you find in front of every eatery, showing you what the chow they serve there looks like. j needs some black model paint too. we're doing interview for guitar magazines in a couple of days where the want us to take pictures holding our machines and he don't dig the standard white pickup covers on his. the paint's coming off and he wants to re-do them. he is successful but I am not. I see some funny signs though. see, they folks here have problems w/the letter 'l.' they don't have that sound so you see stuff like "tom and jelly." even the tour guide lady julie's name was written on the room list as "jurie" and she's a native! to be fair, they probably have a ton of sounds we can't say either but don't know it cuz we can't read their alphabet. it's ok though - nothing wrong w/a funny world!
we meet a cat from the u.s. who has a club in town here, firefly, named douglas. j met him last night at the gig. he knows this town well. he says all the stuff folks use for their store fronts is in this one area. I'm hot on the trail. first soundcheck though. j lets me use one of his plexi marshalls and I put it through the one 2x15 cab I'm not using to get some more tone out of my setup. the ampeg can give me some bottom push but there's nothing at the middle or top and the marshall has some neat grind and sustain also. we work on "big train" again, we're going to try it out at show tonight. very generous of j. him and george switch off and we try "bob dylan wrote propaganda songs," an old minutemen tune too. that's still pretty rough, george has to get up a little more confidence - he will, I know it. just not ready for tonight. the dressing room has a table filled w/chow. I swear I've never eaten so much soosh on a daily basis in my life! I really dig the healthy feeling it gives me. whole pineapples too. damn, why spend any yen on chow? you just gotta hold out 'til soundcheck!
douglas comes back to take us through town. what a mindblow all the sensory stimulation the senses bring being immersed in all this. a giant crab w/moving parts on the wall, a giant squid, giant cats, giant spacemen, some clown doll in a pin-stripe jumpsuit playing snare drum (supposed to be a big osaka landmark), neon, lights, lanterns everything to get your attention everywhere - such eyeball fillers. douglas fills in on all kinds of stuff we couldn't know w/out spending a lot more time here like he has. such as the fact that this isn't all of osaka like what a tourist might think. he says there's a giant shantytown just outside and it would not be happening to be going down those streets. he also said the cat who made "blade runner" lived here and got his idea of what the future might be like from it. hmmm. seems osaka is more of a chicago croseed w/old cleveland and pittsburgh while tokyo is more like new york city. more and more walking, none of it boring and then victory! a place that sells that plastic chow! the grail at last. I get some soosh ones: tako (octopus), toro (tuna) and sake (salmon, not the booze). it costs like twenty bucks, the shit ain't cheap but I don't care. george gets some uni (sea urchin eggs) for gimili. he says it's her favorite. I'm very happy now. life is good w/some small victories. I ask him about that drink I like, qoo. he says his kid loves it and maybe more for the character that represents it. he says everything in japan has a character associated it w/it - toilet paper, chow, you name it. j points out a cat one w/no ears. his says that's because mice ate it off. his favorite one is based on the roll that's stuff w/beans. wild.
time to walk back to the gig. douglas gets some dough balls w/ginger and octopus in the middle. mmmmm, they're good. we stop on the way at "time bomb" records where I meet another cat named kenji, I'd met him before at thurston's pad. lots of great records here. we see the single from j's first band _deep wound_ for about a $150!!! there's a "piss bottle man" promo cd single for much less, like three bucks! almost all the minutemen seven inchers for like twentyfive - thirty. this is a great store. j gets the roky erickson english album from 1980. I don't know what it's called cuz the letters of the title are not in a language I recognize but I got this when it came out and love it to death. it's got strange cover art of something like a dog jumping out of roky's torn head. it's abstract though and not graphic or gross. it's beautiful. my favorite roky record.
head back to the venue, almost show time. gigs in japan start at seven and there's no opening act for us tonight again. we pass through 'triangle park' which douglas says is the heart of osaka but there's no grass - there's no grass anywhere for that fact. must be way outside of town. in the pad, we do up the set list - twenty three songs, all right! I could play all night w/these cats. we start w/"thumb" tonight. great gig for me but I have some mishaps. my watch breaks hitting the little bass, damn, flies right off my wrist. as does the bracelet from tibet. am I working my shit to hard? I break a string in the "where'd you go?" but change it real quick - thanks again for tone getting me that leatherman-like tool for my belt. the crowd is the most vocal of any of the japanese crowds but that still is pretty quiet. the watch everything and are so attentive, we talk on the stage off the mic and you can still hear it in the whole hall. whoa. "big train" is ok, not that big of train wreck. george missed the retard part and beat me to the punch at the end but I thought it was great for the first time ever. I thank both j and george after the tune on the mic. both these guys have big hearts and treat me very well. I wish I could express it better.
we finish the set and george is very upset w/himself and his performance. I heard some clams and shit like that but it was all minor and I listen very carefully in this band so even if stuff is added or beats cut out, I'm always w/them, no matter how things go. no fucking autopilot here. hell, j cut all kinds of bars out of "back before you go" (including most of my bass solos in it!) but we held together good. that's a sign of cats really playing together and it's something I've always aspired to. george is mad at himself, however. he says he might quit mota even! there's none of that here in japan so we've been mote-less. he had no beers either tonight and said he liked that. j, noel and myself have had nothing this whole time, maybe he sees it working for us. his "handburgers" are much better now but he hurts stamina-wise. he's talking about running in the morning even to build shit up! I support him in whatever strategy he wants to take. george is a good man. thirties are a trippy time for you. I think it's natural what he's going through. meanwhile, life in the forties is its own trip. my fucking beard is coming in really crazy, never been like this before. oh well, the only thing constant in life is change. at least my joints don't ache they did before. I'm more than grateful for that. beards are weird anyway, I just hate shaving on tour.
look at it, nine o'clock and we're ready to bail for the ho. ten and I'm in the tub for a soak and then on the deck for the konk. hoofing all day and then playing your brains out makes it easy. watt, you're a lucky man.
saturday, february 17, 2001 - tokyo, japan
pop and write some diary quick - we gotta take the bullet train up to tokyo for our last japanese gig. I find out the ticket for each of us for the train is about three hundred dollars - wow! that's like an econo round trip from l.a. to nyc on a jet plane! julie leads us at her typical pace, jamming along like crazy. her last day at being the guard dog. at the station we bump into my detroit bud bob teagan. he's taking the train w/us. of course he's got his camera.
I get a shot of the train coming in w/my own camera. damn, just like the front end of a jet plane. it'll take three hours to get from osaka to tokyo. along the way, I take bunches of shots out the window. there's a mountain range we go through before we get to nagoya, it reminds me of the one where the grapevine is in so cal. bob sets his tripod up in the hallway where the heads are. no one is upset, then even duck for his shots. one lady is dressed up traditional in a kimono - she's going to a wedding. bob has her walk up and down the hall a few times and films her in slow motion. she doesn't mind a bit, whoa. bob's a trip but an original. north from nagoya, mount fuji comes into view, the highest mountain in japan. damn, is it huge! all covered w/snow and looking sort of like a volcano, it sure is beautiful. I get some shots. through yokohama and then tokyo. we go straight to the venue, _akasaka blitz_. this is a big pad, holds a few thousand at least. the stage is bigger than a lot of clubs I play. I bet noel will have to even put j's guitar in the p.a. - it's that big!
eric, dancer and noel have set everything up - they left early before us. soundcheck and we do "big train" a bunch of times, j's still developing his part. I think it's neat that the tune is different w/each group of cats I play w/and this is no exception. this is the fog version. I dig it. back to the dressing room and chow some soosh. massy, the tour's promoter, comes by to say hi. he's done good for us, he's impressed on how I cut corners by getting to fender to donate those speakers, I tell him I jam econo. I ain't into needlessly partying on j's money, fuck that. it's a privilege to play w/him.
_number girl_ is opening for us again and hits the stage, they have a great crowd who are very enthusiastic for them. I wish I knew their names, they're such great cats, real nice. they can jam too. they warm the crowd up good. noel's bud, ratdog, who moved here from the u.s. comes by - noel's gonna spend a couple days w/him after this. he use to be in _motorcycle boy_ (hollywood band) and was replaced by a johnny blazing, a pedro dude (he was in _salvation army_, who me and d. boon put out a 7" by on our 'new alliance records' label in the early 80s). what a connected world.
we're next, it's 7:15 pm! gigs are early over here. lots of yelling for j, that's a switch - usually things are really quiet for a show. between songs the vacuum of silence can be incredibly deafening. we start w/"raisins" and the place goes nuts. george immediately starts having problems w/his snare, damn, it's a shame. what is it about those things? out of round, bad heads, lame lugs? I wish I could get him the best one available just to make things better for him. I can also tell I'm not in his monitor cuz we start to slip in parts. he probably has all drums and is flying this route on autopilot. I really hate that. somewhere I've heard rumors it's supposed to be a rhythm section. maybe he should set up in front of the amps instead of behind them and not have to trust the monitors. hell, in my bands, I point the bass amp right at the drummer but this ain't my band. I want to talk to him about it later. j deserves a firm foundation in which to wail upon (or is it "up on" maybe?). that was d. boon's concept, what he'd tell me and george (hurley, the other one). the gig's still got good momentum though and it goes really well. I think I only blew one real clam and that was on the last note of "get me." well, j wants me to help w/the spiel on "blowin' it" and of course, I blow it. we do the stooges "loose" and it's the best we've ever done. "big train" is good too - george catches the retard good and we do it tight. j's playing is heavy weight champ stuff, I know I say that almost every night but it's fucking true. the cat can really fire it up big time. it's very impressive, knocks me down every gig.
we get done and back to the room and I'm hollering some stupid stuff about the snare drum to george, my hormones (or what's left of them) are raging. I put a cork in it though when who comes through the door? thurst! yes! thurston says he showed up in the first song and saw the whole thing. I know he told me he was gonna come (they start a sonic youth japanese tour in a couple of days) but when I didn't see him before we stated I figured it was gonna be a no-show. thank you, thurston! j asks him to play guitar w/us for the first encore tune, "more light" and let's him use the blue sparkle finish tele. I have him plug in to the marshall part of my stack. what a mindblow for me, getting to play w/both thurston and j at the same time - what a hoot! I dig it! big sweaty hugs to thurst and I lift him off of the ground, I'm a happy clam (!). someone throws up a night watchmen's cap - I wipe my face off w/it and save it. a hat from japan - thank you! we do some more tunes, "little fury things" (too bad lee ain't here to help sing), the cure's "just like heaven," "the wagon" and freak scene. I go back to wear george is to give him some back and shoulder rubs like I usually do and am fucking amazed on the lack of bass - I can't hear one note of what I'm playing! I can move around though and get in front of the amp but george has to sit there on a throne - it would be such a nightmare to just hear myself real loud and not the other cats, who I feel must need you to play tight as body condom over your whole self. all I can do is laugh out loud, it's so insane. only a three piece band too! well, at least we're done and I know we can work on this hearing each other shit. struggling to overcome is good.
gig done and who shows up? three fouths of _melt banana_ (drummy had to work)! rika in overalls, what a trip! I ask them about onsen, kirsha back in the u.s. told me to check one out - she grew up in guam and has been to japan many times. they know of one in hakone and that's a two hour train ride from tokyo. I wonder if I can do it? I want to talk w/them more but again the bumrush. damn, do these folks hurry your shit up, right after you fucking play? what's the rush? the tour's fucking done. I realize it's not tour boss eric causing this but the production company. these cats even want him to count the bones out in the street! they're putting the heat on him to get us the fuck out of dodge and to the ho. damn. I get a couple of pictures w/the bananas and get to swig some dave's insanity sauce w/the _number girl_ singer but that's it. barely get to say thanks to thurst, I tell him I'm so glad he got to see me play w/j, I really wanted him to see that. no more good byes, not even to julie - we're forced into the ride and jam off for the tokyo hilton. just the place for watt. right.
I'm soaking wet, I played my fucking brains out. I get to my room and they got this bathrobe type things. I get my shrivled sweaty ass into that and both george and dancer later come to my door but the adrenaline has worn off. it's sack of potatoes mode and to the deck I crumple, konking within moments.
sunday, february 18, 2001 - tokyo, japan
pop and slide open the window screen - fourteen floors up w/a view west towards the skyscrapers of shinjuku. not as full of them as manhattan in ny but still pretty dominating. I want to hoof on the surface and get the eyes full. first I code up the first couple weeks in html for the web, as soon as I get a chance I want to get these spiels up there. problem is the only way to get to my server is a long distance call to the u.s. and I'm too econo for that. at leasat the shit'll be ready. j told me the other day that dudes are writing him emails complaining why can't they read them now, now you know why. I turn the tv on just to see what's up and it's the discovery channel w/a good rap on black holes and guesses at the universe's origins, strings, inflation - that kind of shit. the only tv I like besides nature/history, wrestling and soul train. a good soak in the tub and then down the elevator I go. these babies jam so fast, my ears pop every time. I got the digicamera at the ready at head outside.
great, blue skies. not too cold either. still go the pea coat on but no need for gloves or hat. they got space between these giant cement tower buildings and that makes them even more impressive. I get shots shooting straight up at their base. I hit an am/pm and get some pickled tako (octopus - this is great, I couldn't find any in osaka) and next door eat a baked potato at, you guessed it - a "wendy's." tiny little thing. I was wondering how they would do that here. no grease though, just tater. I fill a couple of disks w/shots and then go back to my room for a little bit. we're doubling up again for rooms cuz gig time in japan is now over and we're only doing promotion. j has spiel today, tomorrow I'll join him and then we'll hit the sonic youth gig.
I go back outside. a sign outside shows a park - whoa, maybe some grass?! it's called shinjuku-chuo park and I walk over to it. homeless folks camp out in tents. yes, even w/all the money, they got that here too. the grass is all yellow and beat down, not much of it at that. lots of huge crows. damn, are they big. and loud! I find a shrine and take shots w/the cam. huge round jingle bells, the size of basketballs attached to fat ropes hang from the porch. lots of little scrolls (prayers?) are hung up on borad nearby. very interesting and peaceful, amid all this other cement and motorization. further on is a childrens part w/slides, monkey bars - a giant whale to play on and then it ends. return to concreteland. there are tons of vending machines in japan, selling moisture of all types and cigarettes. I get a can of something written in japanese but w/a picture of a peach and white grapes. when I open and pour it down my throat, I find it's the nectar of each and mmmm, is it good! righteous. I turn north and keeping snapping shots. trippy how I don't see any police anywhere, I sometimes see the police boxes I've read about but they're mostly empty. there's lots of uniforms, they love that here but mainly they're doormen, security guards and parking lot attendants. lots of armbands on workers, even at gigs, w/stuff written on them in japanese. they love helmets too, every job w/their own color: landscapers, construction folks, garbage collectors... I hit an area called west shinjuku and it breaks down to tiny streets w/tons of electronic stores and arcade game pads. clothes and luggage shops too, sort of like canal street where jimbo is in manhattan. it's dizzying w/all the people and interaction - crazy. from here I go to the train station and check out the wildness and then stop at a noodle shop. for six hundred yen, I get this huge bowl, maybe eight inches across and four inches deep of a righteous soup/noodle like chow. it's got shrimps, whole quail eggs, turnips, scallions, cabbage, ramen and man, is it good! I relent and dave it up after a little while. I sweat it up big time. this ain't a fancy place, lots of workers chowing here too. I'm getting ok at the chopsticks, even figured out how to rub them together after breaking them apart so your lips don't get splinters. wow, what gobble - head back to the ho, I need a short konk.
after that, I venture back out. dark's coming and I head south to see what's up that way. maybe that was a little too much daves (damn, it was a shitload I dumped in there!) so I get some yogurt w/fruit and one of these triangle rice cakes wrapped in seaweed. this one's got a little tuna too. surprise for me, since there's just japanese writing on the package. a good surprise though, tastes great. my stomach calms way down. I get this at where else? a 7-11. there's tons of these convenience type stores everywhere: 7-11, am/pm, family mart, surkus, stuff w/japanese writing. heading south turns out to reveal nothing but residential and a "denny's" (what?) so I turn it about and walk towards the part shinjuku is famous for. I need a watch anyway.
this area is total mindblast w/the neon jamming your eyeballs big time. every building is lit to the t. and most flashing. how much power does this fucking take? that's the first thing that enters my mind after the numbing wears off. tons of gambling casinos (pachinko), "partners clubs," massage parlors, discount stores, game arcades, bars and chow pads - some soosh pads have conveyor belts that just keep it coming round and round. hustlers outside their "establishments," doing their spiels. this one jamaican cat gloms onto me and goes "sex, sex, sex, massage, girls..." I tell him I'm cool and keep moving. finally, to keep those cats away, I just light up some backwoods and that works like a charm. I take shots w/the cam all over, it's like some bizarre movie set, I'm pretty over-awed. my eyes must be wide-open like more than a foot. fuck, it's sunday night at almost ten o'clock and there's tons of people everywhere, maybe that day means something different in this land. I stumble onto an electronics store and take an elevator to the fifth floor where the watches are. my eyes go right to this casio one, a g-shock type called "twelve beasts." it's got purple in it's bezel and looks like it can take a pounding. maybe it can handle watt and his bass wrestling. hope so. I get it for eleven thousand yen (the promoters gave us ten k for these last days here. thank you, massy). ok, mission accomplished - back to the ho.
walk past some cardboard condos under the train tracks, more proof of dirt behind the daydream. no panhandling though. musicians playing w/their guitar cases open but they read from sheet music, that's a trip. at the door of the ho is a group of like twenty young japanese men in suits all hollering and bowing many, many times.. I look behind me and see nothing. is it for me? wait a minute, I did see a car leaving before I came upon them. there are things about this land I just can't understand w/one visit. that was a trip. when I move past them to get inside, they act as if they don't even see me. damn.
I take the elevator up but have to wait five miutes in the hall while george is stranded on the bowl, sawing off a redwood. finally the hatch pops and it's good to see him again. he gives me a present from the all the guys, davidoff cigarillos. my heart melts. these are good, good cats. george tells me of this nightmare eric had when he went to his room and found nothing in it - cleaned out! major donate, chick-ching! there was a fuck-up though and some ho cats moved everything to another room w/out telling other ones. I can imagine the fucking panic. glad everything worked out.
me and george puff a davidoff w/the tv on w/some 'airwar' type of show. these things are such obvious commercials for the defense industry. what a thing to import to japan. there's also a show about waking up on the operating table and the fear of popping up inside a coffin too. lids are heavy, I've hoofed all day. to the deck and next stop, sleepytown.
monday, february 19, 2001 - tokyo, japan
damn, I pop up at like five in the morning at the room is as dark as a tomb. don't want to wake george so I slowly move about so as not to stumble. furniture still gets hit, although slowly so the blows are softened. I curl my toes to keep from stubbing them, damn is it black as ink in here. I put on some tea somehow using feel and then hit the head for a good soak in the tub. I must be in there like an hour! good thing I had enough energy to shut the faucet or I would flowed right over the tub's edge and onto the deck in a puddle - I was that much putty!
some diary then to the lobby w/my bass to meet j. no case for for the little thumper just a free-ball for the ride to j's label 'pony canyon' to do spiel. that fucking road case must weigh fifty god damn pounds! it'll be safe in my hands. michiyo takes us. she's the cool lady at the label who knows punk - a lot of the acts signed there are either cheese metal or sugarpop. we take a cab to business-heavy part of town where the label is.
I get taken up to the top floor w/a big oval ring table w/leather chairs all about it - this must be a room where the bosses meet. for me though, it is to spiel w/this nice cat from a site called "hardcore easy listen." that's a great name. there's a translator too but I can tell he understands what I say. the translator is more for asking the questions, I think. I can tell by his eyes that he gets my answers. he asks great questions, I mean really good ones. being my first trip to japan, he wants to know my impressions so I give them. he wants to know my influences, how I came to play the bass the way I do (or as I say, "wrestle"). what I think of the current scene, seeing as where I come from as a "verterano." he says he's seen j a few tours now and this time was the most focused he's ever found j playing his guitar - he wants to know if that's my fault! he wants to know the story behind my opera. no superficial stuff, I'm very taken by how much he does know about me and his asking questions that are very pertinent. one surprise for him is why it's taken me so long to come to japan when I've been on columbia records (a part of sony) for ten years! what can I say? "no wine before it's time." a very cool spiel all around, like w/some from my country that's really grass roots and is really into what they're writing about. then I'm summoned for chow.
we're going to have fugu, blowfish. this shit is poisonous and a specially licensed chef is required to prepare it. a prime minister here died from eating it - it's considered risky but j is determined to try it and fuck, why not? we sit on little chairs of this restaurant w/a tiny table up a couple floors and me and j are given each a box, about five by four by four inches. off w/the lid and there's the blowfish, a fillet about three inches long, fried it batter (tempura) w/some veggies done the same on a thick bed of rice. the blowfish tastes sore of like orange roughy, maybe a little too oily from the batter. I feel no tingle like I heard from folks who say they've heard that's what happens. tastes good but no extraordinary experiences detected. j says he feels kind of weird. well, ok. time for the dave's and I pour insanity sauce into the rice and miso soup. time to really feel some effects! a good sweat and mocos flying out of my nose ensues, there we go - habaneros, very reliable!
back for a spiel w/japan's big bass magazine. again, there's a translator but I can see from the eyes of the interviewer that he gathers mostly what I'm saying. like w/the last one, I make my spiel concise and clear, to the point, as to help them. the questions are very good and thorough. they take like a hundred shots of the little bass and then some of me holding her. they ask for my final statement, one last word on my philosophy. I say us bass folks look good making other cats look good. there's lots of ways to do it - find your own path there. then we're done, a good spiel.
we're taxied off to where we played a couple nights ago, _akasaka blitz_ cuz sonic youth is playing there and j's doing a spiel w/thurston. great to see my old friends again. wow, has coco grown - she's six and half now. lee's son cody's here too and he's fifteen. not so youthful sonics anymore! steve's lost weight, he looks good. there's a new member of the band now, jim o'rourke. he's a really nice man and I talk w/him a little bit. the crew's very friendly, deanna is the old primus sound lady and now does for these folks. watt's hands comb the room and the hands find chow. the hands feed mouth. more soosh. so good to see the sonics, I haven't seen them play since opening up for them in dc a couple of years ago when I was doing the opera. it'll be my first time seeing jim w/them. he does guitar, bass and powerbook.
opening band is _ooioo_, yoshimi from the _boredoms_, plays guitar and trumpet in it and they're great. the drummer is wild, all highhat and cymbals - even snares on the one! kind of progresso. big action w/the pedals. jim tells me the prac pads are so expensive so everyone's at home, perfecting their pedal techniques. no amps even, you rent them out at the gigs. this band really put on a good show. then the sonics go on. I go out to the floor out w/the crowd and watch the gig. damn, is the sound bad. this is why I've always hated big pads. the sound is all jumbled and confused, no bass guitar at all, either w/jim or kim playing it. lee's all a blur too. thurston's guitar and voice are clear though. drums are completely lost all through the set. maybe it's where I'm standing, I don't know. just too many folks to move around though it's easy to see cuz everyone's generally pretty short. I still like the show even though it's kind of a mime. jim's really rocking out and the cat's wearing a sweater! all right. wish I could hear what he's doing though. oh well, there'll be another time and I'll hear it good. I'm really glad I got to see them tonight, whatever the sound. thurston says some very kind things about me before they play one of my favorites of their's "brother james." thanks, thurst.
all done and everyone's ready to bail. who do I see in the hall? the _melt banana_ once more, third time since I've been in their land! of course, only three fourths of them - drummy is at work again! good byes to all and then the subway back to the ho, my first time. even at eleven at night it's packed. no one pushing cats on w/white gloves like I've heard but we're jammed in tight. my team gets off one stop before me to chow but I've shovled enough from the sonic feed bag and go it alone. my stop and then a quiet tokyo street to the ho. what a contrast to the anthill below the street. I get in the room and it's konk time quick. my last sueno in japan, tomorrow night we fly to australia.
tuesday, february 20, 2001 - in the air on the way to sydney, australia
I pop early when I feel a newspaper trying to be shoved under the hatch. they don't know it cuz they're out in the hall, trying to get it in but I'm konked on the other side using the hatch as a prop for my pillow. I can konk much more securely knowing I'm gonna know when somebody's gonna try and come through. hose down and then some diary.
j comes by the room w/dancer and along w/noel, we head for the record shops. again, like yesterday, the weather is very happening. no need for a hat or gloves, just the pea coat. the sun is out bright against a blue sky and the wind calm. there's this great shop j's taking us to in shinjuku called _vinyl japan_. it's really unbelievable, the stuff they got in here. all kinds of punk seven inchers and albums from the seventies and early eighties, it's amazing how they got this stuff. the prices though are up through the roof. they got the first _germs_ single, "forming" for 15800 yen (about 115 yen to the u.s. dollar right now). all the _pop group_ recordings are here. I already have them but they're played to death. I wonder how these play? you know they have to be used. noel has his eye on a roky erickson ep four song from france and the cat behind the counter gives it a play. 3800 yen though, ouch. they got the comeback single roky did ("bermuda"/"the interpreter") which is harder than hell to find anywhere. I know j gets the "mine mine mind" single w/"bloody hammer" that went w/the album he got a few days ago but he gets more after I pull myself out of the store to save my wallet. damn, I would spend everything if I got started. some other intense things they had were old copies of "sounds" and "melody maker" w/cover stories on richard hell. oh yeah, there was all the _television_ stuff, "arrow" and the "little johnny jewel" ork single, etc... they even had _new alliance records_ disks that me and d. boon put out twenty years ago. whoa. to think some of them would end up in this part of the world. the lester bangs single on john cale's spy label is here, only 7800 yen. (!) lots of great johnny thunders - live "chinese rocks." funny to see the pictures on these old punk records. lots of times, there's cats w/blowdry haircuts and mustaches next to someone w/a buzz cut and a skinny tie, like no one really knew how to look or what. funny as shit.
across from the store is a noodle shop where you put money in a machine, take the ticket that comes out and give it to the cook for your chow. you eat standing up. this is controversial cuz some folks here think this is a way wrong way to shovel it down. my pop would've fallen over if he was in this pad. he really had a thing about no tolerating slurping or smacking your lips when you chowed. well, this place is nothing but slurping, cats in suits even lapping it up. I laugh really hard to myself picturing the look on his face if he was here right now. what I would give to just catch the look in his eye! for four hundred yen, I get some great face stuff. they got these sour little red pickled berries too that I eat a ton of. I dig sours as much as I do spicy. we hit a few more record stores, looking for my friend jimbo's request for "my little lover" and "mr. children," something he calls j-pop and assures me isn't porn. no luck though - sorry, jimbo. we check out a pad w/videos, a few dino ones on the shelves - obvious boots. the cat behind the counter asks for j's autograph on the way out. shameless!
they continue on but I return to the ho to write my final postcards from japan. we leave for narita airport at three thirty. it's like an hour and half ride through some major tokyo traffic plug and costs over two hundred dollars for the cab ride - damn! you better have some ching-kwan-dough if you want to come to this place! the train probably would've been more econo but then there's the bags. shit like georges whale (it weighs in at sixtyfive pounds at the airport) would've killed us. michiyo and yushi (a quiet cat who from the label who was the greatest at helping us out) chow us our last japanese meal, a bowl of sabo - noodles w/tempura shrimp in it. these folks have been just the best to us, thanks michiyo, thanks yushi. much repsect. thank you, japan.
checking in the bags and equipment, we find ourselves over by eightyeight kilograms (194 pounds). thisis gonna cost us over thirtyone hundred dollars, fuck! we meet our first asshole here in japan - some dick who treats us like shit and will not give us an ear, tells us to make way for other passengers even though they have our passports. he has the gaul to tell eric to use the post office, saying the shit'll ge there in like a week! his manner is so fucking rude, like some buttsuck from the u.s. aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh. what can we do? we're over a barrel. have to cough up the chick-ching, damn. we board a quantas 747 for the eight and a half hour hellride to sydney. this fucking heap is from the 70s, what a wreck - all beat up. me and noel are sitting right next to the galley so it's the big wail w/tons of noise and bumps the whole flight. I go to check out j and george, they're like thirty rows in front of us, I haven't been on one of these big babies in a long time. j's got one of those masks folks wear around japan and he'll be able to somewhat filter the farts you know everyone here's drilling each other w/the whole time. george has some nightmare lady giving him major elbow. I can only rap w/them a little bit cuz some asshole hits me in the back of the head so they can see the stupid tourist commercial for sydney. I contemplate returning later when she's asleep to fog her face w/fecal soilents to return the favor. aaarrrgggghhhhh.
back to my peg. snug fit. luckily, I'm tour conditioned. on w/the mask and this bozo is out almost the entire flight. at least I'm in the aisle for my knees. poor noel is in the middle seat, serving time the hard way. before konking I adjust my watch to the new clock zone we'll be in. it's summer south of the equator where we're going so there's daylight savings time, that's a two hour difference from japan. damn, now I'm nineteen hours ahead of the clock back in pedro, whoa.
wednesday, february 21, 2001 - melbourne, australia
pop to the smell of righteous airplane being slopped up in the galley next to me, blechhhh! slide that shit down the gullet and wait as we circle for an hour, waiting to land in sydney. we'll take another flight then to melbourne. whoops, who spaced on j's reverb unit? panic over, no donate this time. we board another 747 for melbourne.
this plane's at least ten years newer and in much better shape. why should I complain, I'm just happy the shit don't crash - that's enough for me, really. the scene from the window looking down is intense, wow! it should be an hour flight but it takes two cuz again we're in a holding pattern. no matter, at least we're safe soon on the ground. we'll be in this town the next four days.
trouble w/customs, the carnet is all screwed up. the carnet is the document for border crossings that lists your equipment that shows you left w/what you came in w/and nothing got sold in between. my bass isn't even listed along w/other stuff, aaarrrrggghhhh. the australian customs folks are very understanding though and we're on our way w/the document fixed for an calm exit. like they tell us, "you shouldn't have any drama." thank you, customs folks.
wow, is the weather a different thing all together than what was just in japan. I'm used to this though, it's like so cal in the summer. shed the pea coat, watt. the promoter, gerard and driver nick comes to take us by the water, where we're staying. I love to see the ocean, no matter where it is. the whole area's called port philip and the part we're in is called st. kilda. it's right by the pad I played here w/porno for pyros, the palace - part of an old amusement park. monies have been put in this place since then but it's still funky, not mersh at all except for the mcdonalds that sticks out like a canker. we're in a ho called the cosmopolitan and it's not fancy at all, a big change from japan.
first thing I do is my laundry. damn, do I have a bag of stench. the australian dollar is only about fiftytwo cents u.s. so it costs only about five bucks to do two full loads. the other cats are dropping their stuff off at a laundry to have done and I perceive noel giving me shit for doing mine myself. it's a misunderstanding but I go off. you know, last night george came over to try and make fun of dancer cuz he didn't take a business class seat that was offered to him. like if you don't take the pampered route, you're an asshole. I had to bite me tongue not to go off on him for laughing at the dancer but I let him have it now. wear your own fucking tiara but don't fuck w/those who want to go their own way. why do people gotta give you grief if you want to get your hands dirty, how does that fuck w/them? this really makes me mad. george will call dancer commie and shit like that, like some fucking redneck just cuz dancer will do something cuz of what he considers to be a principle - it makes me really steamed. of all the things to give people shit for, can you believe it? dancer is not communist, what kind of joe mccarthy putdown shit is this. he's young and trying to find himself, he thinks about some things a bit. he ain't hurting anyone. but for these guys, it's like the little inside joke. why can't they cut his some god damn slack. well, I ain't part of it and fucking buck back every time I hear this shit. get after the guy for being lazy or shirking or that stupid fucking stunt he pulled in chicago but not for bailing on a business class seat. all those bosses in russia or china would've taken that seat right away, shit. it reminds me of the lyrics to this pop group song:
our children will rise up against us
because we are the ones to blame
because we are the ones with no shame
they will give us all a new name
we will be called
doing the wash calms me down. being by myself calms me down. this neighborhood is neat, the young people dress very casual but not gapped-out and styling, sort of hippie like. not much glitz or mersh. there's a neat chow pad across the street, the _galleon_, and I get a greek salad that's really happening for just over three of our bucks. there's no plain coffee, it's all espresso and it's very, very strong - italian style, kind of too heavy for me. next time I have it, I'm cutting it w/water, damn. walk to an econo internet cafe and do some chimping.
night comes and gerard w/nick brings us to the _cherry bar_, the pad where we're doing the stooges stuff tomorrow night. it's down home and some great late 60s/early 70s pre-disco dance music is on the p.a. me, dancer and j sit at a little table and dig on it. a couple of hours and we bail. on the way home, gerard tells us about the australian grand prix, it's being held here in melbourne. we have one so cal way in long beach. it's usually in may when I'm touring and I miss it. gonna miss this one too. there was heavy nascar news a couple days ago, dale earnhardt was killed in a race. he was a big daddy in that world, sad. we get back and it's warm enough, I just konk on the deck w/out a blankie, only the mask and a pillow. out.
read week 2 of the tour diary
read week 4 of the tour diary
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