j mascis and the fog
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
j mascis - guitar, singing
(left to right)
eric fischer - tour boss
ray rupprecht - soundman
david scheid - helper man
steve kaul - the man outside the van
wednesday, march 28, 2001 - omaha, ne
pop and check out the window - I could just tell before looking that there's rain. you can smell it. it's seven and after an hour soak in the tub, I venture out into the gray. cold drizzle has got me ducking under awnings in between storefronts. second rain day of the tour, not too bad for going on the third week. I find a chow pad and see something good on the menu - trout and eggs. I love fish and every friday I cook it up for myself. the cat fixing up the chow here comes out to meet me, he knows me through my working the bass. man, the meal he makes me is something else - thank you! back into the cold rain and back to the ho, no big hoof this morning.
eric brings me a paper mache head - it's from kevin, the same cat who gave me exactly the same head to wear for halloween a year and a half ago. it's of one of the characters on "south park" but I don't the name. he's got a tassel on his hat. thanks, kevin. time to bail now. we go east a little bit and back over the border and then turn north and follow the missouri river towards omaha. we pass through st. joseph, which is where those people who burned down the last night's hotel (the elridge) like 150 years ago were from. jesse and frank james were part of that bunch too. there's signs all over for museums and things about them. I wonder if folks are aware of this not-so-romantic part of their history?
at council bluffs we turn west and cross back over the missouri into omaha. we're at the _ranch bowl_ in the southwest part of town. it's bowling alley-billiard pub-rock club. there's no more rain but it's still gray and cold. we do a quick soundcheck - getting closer on "the red and the black" and then go over to the ho a little way down the road. even though this is the home of _bright eyes_, they aren't opening tonight. this club is not happening for them and they won't play here. that's too bad. they do support another pad and though I don't know it's name me and j both wish we might've played there. it's good to have more than one pad in a town to play. things aren't so healthy in a one-game scene. I don't dig it. wish I could've discussed it w/conner last night.
there's an opening band but we miss it cuz we're still at the ho when they go on. again, they're put on too early. shit, I don't even know what their name is. what the fuck, we'll go on early too - never can be too early for watt. we start w/"the lung" and damn, if these drivers in the 4x12 cab sound like they're ready to go. they're farting out big time. g and below on the 'e' string don't come out at all hardly and shit just ain't sounding right. whatever, watt - soldier on. I'll tell j about it later. "where'd ya go?" and then "blowin' it" - we do a great version of that one. the crowd is very lit, lots of interaction but then I've always had a good connection w/folks here. d. boon's pop was from nebraska. george has got a trippy cymbal he's using for a ride (lots of broken cymbals have left him w/no choice) that has a really harsh high end. damn, does it kind of fry on the watt ears. "same day," "little fury things" and "I'm not fine" follow and go good though I got sort of a strange feeling in my body. am I under attack by a sickness? there was all those mocos in me yesterday. I do the spiel for "not right" and we have an all-out blast of a jam at the end of it. boy, that was fun. I'm sweaty now, though it's kind of tough playing all soaked, there's a certain kind of release I achieve when the pores get pouring. I dig it. "thumb" is next and j improvises on the middle section but me and george are right there, in real time, and stay right w/him. I like it when there's a connection like that between folks who are playing together - a thread through their heads, keep them all whole. we avenge the disaster of last night's "all the girls" and do it up good. one of the great things I've found is that one life is made of many gigs and can't get too caught up in any one that might be a nightmare cuz there's still a chance you make up for it next time. however, the potential for any gig to actually be your last one is there too so you gotta go at it w/all you got. the new one for the set, "budge," finds me getting all the parts right - I get both the intro and the end on the money. minutia, yes but this is what's going through the fog's bassist's head while the gig is going. next is the peel medley and that's an in too. well, some confidence on stage for me. this is one reason I'm giving song-by-song reports now in the diary - finally, I'm getting it a little more together w/these guys - after three and half months of gigs! I could try and make up tons of excuses but the truth is I'm a slower learner. maybe not the rhythms, chords and melodies so much but the ability to work up enough nerve so I can do the music right. I feel I can be there for j now and he doesn't have to carry me. I feel like I can help him a little w/the burden, what I think a bass cat who's getting right is about - someone the other cats on stage can lean on and feel safe - safe enough to take some wild chances w/the music. no one having to "carry" anyone but having fun throwing the shit around and keeping the ball live. after a smoking "amma ring" we got two stooges' numbers to close us out, "tv eye" and then "I got a right." what a fucking heart attack for me. since "tv eye" isn't last, I keep the little bass on for the coda. I almost squeeze the fingerboard right off the neck though. I dedicate "I got a right" to d. boon and we fly it right up the fucking flag pole, wail the solo in the middle twice as long. george cranks the tempo up real insane and it pops right like that - ping!!!! good set. off to the side for a bit and the back up for some encore. we planned to do "heaven" but the crowd calls for "freak scene" so j starts into that. then black flag's "I've had it" into "repulsion" and the gig's done.
lots of nice folks w/kind things to say. one cat named kirk gives me a care package w/some lime-chili chips, a righteous corn and chilies salsa, a bottle each of chipoltle and of some belize style habanero (w/carrots and garlic) sauces. three macanudo 'gars and three cds (one of alejandro escoveda live!) too. thanks, kirk. j lets me know I keep fucking the last choruses of "same day" up - I'm leaving words out and saying the wrong ones when I do. I will get it together better friday in iowa city. the cat who put on my show in kearney's here and gives me two tiny pieces of pizza and says "put 'em together and make a pita, mike." he tells about the cat who's pad I stayed at when I played there last. his pop is the city attorney and he had to fight him in court. three thousand dollars in lawyer fees for a hundred dollar fine. it was the principle though. can respect that.
we get back to the ho and the other cats go to the ho's own "shark bar." I am beat and want to konk. laying there, waiting for konk to take me, I spin in a semi-dream swirl. I seem to be tasting whisky in my mouth, like it's going right down my throat. what's that about? what a trip, damn. it keep re-occurring everytime I let go of my focus and try to pass. then my team comes back and they start talking about times they were confronted w/guns. I'm still laying there w/the mask on, listening. that talk always spooks me, I've been robbed w/a gun but don't want to volunteer. I can't help but listen though. ray was robbed in baltimore and brought to an atm machine and made to withdraw monies, then lay in the park, face down w/a gun in the back of his head. david was working in a bar in cinci when a fight broke out and someone fired his gun but ended up just shooting himself in the leg. george starts talking about some serial killer in florida that was cutting people's heads off and this is where, luckily, konk pulls me under the waves of sueneo - away from fear, away from vilolence, even away from whisky and safe towards sleepytown. thanks, konk.
thursday, march 29, 2001 - fairfield, ia
damn, it's ten when I pop this morning - what's that about? I got spiels in a few minutes w/papers in connecticut, arizona and florida. gotta hose off quick, no morning hoof today. all of them good spiels, we stay to the point of what it's like to play w/j and then end up w/what am I doing next. there's nothing like a writer who knows the right things to ask, knows how to bring stuff out of you and make things interesting. of course, when they do that, they're telling you a little about themselves too and I can dig that. hell, even if they don't do that, they're still telling you something about themselves - what am I saying?! I'm blessed w/interesting folks this time. thank you, writers.
when I'm done, we had east on us-34. why not the interstate? well, j got the word on the street that a divided highway almost all the way through iowa is better than the freeway. no gig tonight so I ain't sweating it, I laugh in fact. whatever. I have some 'dines in mustard sauce w/some of the fresh habaneros and thai dragon chilies. get the blood rushing and the temp up. we're headed for fairfield. why fairfield? well, scott puffer lives there for one (an amma person like j) and then it's also the place where maharishi told his folks to set up a place for themselves. there's a couple of domes and a compound there for transcendental meditation.
by late afternoon we come into town and go to a great western ho. the team wants to chow but ray stays behind w/me. ray goes to the twentyfour hour market next door and gets some sandwich fixings - sliced turkey, cheese, sprouts, mustard and buns plus some bananas and wine for himself. this is a good time he can find out a little about me. I tell him about the way I tour and why you won't hear me asking to get my ass powdered or tiara adusted. not to buff badge or anything, I just want him to know where I'm coming from. I like ray. a bunch. I tell him about the illness from last year. he heard about it but not the whole nine yards. well, I lay it out and of course, everytime I do that I re-live the whole fucking thing and my limbs twist up. aaarrrgggghhhhh. when will it only be words and not fucking entire body sensations. anyway, we have a good talk. he toured w/j before and he tells me in those days the tours were tiny, like j wanted to get them over fast and not do much. I tell him about j showing me dates for a europe leg starting june one in nottingham, england. I say that it feels to me like j really digs playing live, that's what I feel when we're up there doing the gigs. for me, it's a both a rush and a privilege to help re-define myself through the music of j mascis and the stooges stuff too but also to interact w/that hard-charging guitar of his. it's a blast.
david comes back and him and george are going to a local bar while j goes w/puffer to the maharashi pad. this ho is a trip. there's an inside pool in this like courtyard between all the rooms. when everybody clears out, I put on those trunks I got in australia and go down to float in it. this is a trip for me to do on a tour. only five feet deep but I do lap after lap breast and back stroke. then there's this tiny pool next to it where you can turn a timer on to jam bubbles through it. I put the arches of my feet over the jets and get intense sensations there. that's where my pop used to dig getting rubs when he'd be home after all day standing on that hot deck down in the engine room. I think of him while I'm floating there, a flesh boat bobbing in that tub full of ocean. "pop, look at your punk rock sailor boy - what is up w/him?" wish I could do you right, pop. wish you were still here so I could explain things better, how I came to grow up to be this, working the towns w/the low oar, trying to figure the fuck out of what's supposed to make sense. your boy's driven. he ain't quittin'.
back up to the room and hose that chlorine off. ray does sound for evan and we talk about him a bit. we both dig him but it's a shame how the dick-leeches that wanna hang around him are just fucking pull-downs. he's gotta shake that shit off. anyway, nothing but the best for him. I say night to ray and grab my spot of deck by the hatch. mask on, lights out. konked.
friday, march 30, 2001 - iowa city, ia
pop at like sixthirty, now that's more like it. half-hour soak and then out into the iowa morning. watercolor clouds making the sun a white communion wafer. down the main road and I hoof that toward the middle of town. here comes a four-wheel drive and this cat comes out to say hi. it's joe from the _new herald turners_, the band opening for us tonight. of course, they must be from fairfield, it's puffer's band. we talk a bit and he offers his pad for wash but I got a least two loads and will do it in iowa city. I say bye and continue on. pass a lot w/a bunch of 1940-71 trucks and power wagons for sale, a lot of them painted up military. always neat for watt to see old rides, I've always been fascinated w/them. see the i.o.o.f. lodge (oddfellows) - damn, no. 4! towards the county building and of course the mason lodge is right across the street. eastern star too (they let women in that). fairfield's got some neat old buildings down here. there's a stationary store where I get a new little address book after donating my last one in austin.
I start making my return and stop and a pad called "lovin' spoonful." it's a chow pad and I want some pork chops but the closest thing they got to it is ham so I get that w/some eggs. tastes good. read the paper, a meth lab was raided in iowa city today. damn, here too? probably all the agriculture makes the necessary chemicals maybe easy to get or steal. I head back down the road and stop at the walmart for a little flashlight and and a keyring swivel snap to latch them both to my beltloop. see, in the mornings, w/all the curtains closed, it's fucking impossible to find anything: light switch to the head, llaves (keys), shoes (when I haven't konked w/them on), watch, etc... well, I find one and am about to pay for it when I feel a rumble downstairs. damn, I only chow that ten or something minutes ago, what's up. I put the flashlight down and tell the lady I'll be back. I walk out the door and into the parking lot. then I start to run. bad move, the jostling only quickens the inevitable. the "lovin' spoonful" becomes the "lovin' pantsfull." god damn it. at least now I'm wearing these fucking little white suits under my clothes, I got the situation contained. I begin to walk slowly, get to the ho, then to the room and hit the head for cleaning. thank god I got one more pair of levis and skivvies. on my knees washing this shit out in the bowl, god damn. life is funny and quite humbling. into the shower and I'm back in the race. over to the walmart and get that shit I was getting before.
george and j leave w/puffer for chow and me and eric take the van the sixty miles to iowa city. almost into town, we spot a laundromat and I do wash here, chimp some diary. head on over to the club, _gabe's oasis_, a pad I've played many, many times. doug's the boss here and I've always dug working for him. we get all the shit up those notorious steel stairs in the back - damn, are they murder in the rain but we got none so that's good. john from west branch helps out. thanks, john.
I go out to get a falafel. out in a outside mall, I see some cats dressed punk and decide to ask them for help. this is a college town and I figure there must be some mediterranean chow pad somewhere. I ask the folks gathered around for some help and only this one guy offers some suggestions. they're more for indian chow or something like that but at least he tries to help. this is other prick comes off like some asshole, he's wearing a leather coat that looks like his mom bought it for him along w/sewinging the swastika patch w/the line through it. he says "I eat meat." like I that's what I wanted to know, I guess he might of thought I was confused and thought he only ate cat turds. shows you how much clothes can help you know about somebody. any fuck can wear any kind of uniform. I've always had pretty much luck w/punkers though so this kind of frosts me. whatever. I go roaming and at a place called "baldy's," I find some falafel. the cook is cool and starts making me one up. I wait outside cuz it's a no smoking pad. he waves me in when it's almost done and I'm right by the door. some lady is putting it together and I ask "you got any chilies?" she says no and tells me "would you leave?" wow, two assholes in a row. the cook tells her what's up but she doesn't apologize, why should she, I guess. but for the two assholes they were two cool folks. evens out. I walk back to club and on the way, stop by whrere I asked for help. that dickhead is gone but the cat who tried to assist is still there and I tell I'll put his name on the guest list for being a decent human being. his name is matt. thanks, matt.
back at gabes, a cat who comes to my gigs regular here, skyler, comes by to rap. good to see him again. he's my age, fortythree. I meet this young cat named brandon, he's from fairfield and knows puffer's crew. he's eighteen years old and is going to buy a bagel store I walked by this morning in a few months. he's a chef at "regina's" there in fairfield, the best chow pad from what these guys say (wish I would've known that this morning) and is emersed in the marshall arts. he does spoken word too. shit, when I was eighteen, I was a fucking retard. kids sure are growing up faster. he gives me some, 'qu gong' - a kind of positive energy for the body and puts pressures w/his fingers at joints areas on me. thanks, brandon. he's been living on his own since fourteen, damn. a lot of respect for him. he has had many experiences and offers me many insights to human nature and how he has not taken the stupid path in some idiot situations w/red necks, alcoholics and the like. he's taken knocks but hasn't lost his optimism in humans or the world. good luck, brandon. hit the head and saw this: there's a drawing of rocky and bullwinkle and bullwinkle by the toilet that says "and now watch me pull some graffiti out of my ass" and rocky says "that trick never works." how true, the percentage to shit scrawled on walls to shit actually worth reading is so fucking tiny. come out and this cat, "danimod - the modern design janitor drummin' chef punk," gives me this great care package of one jar each of pears and chilies from his family's trees and garden. great! also included is three bottles of "el yucateco" picante salsa from mexico, one verde (green), one rojo (red) and one xxx (muy picante!) - all w/habanero. thanks, dan. I'm very touched by the amount of heart folks flow me. I try and translate that into bass action. he also gives me a homemade pin made from a pettibon drawing from the album artwork off of "double nickels on the dime," the one relating to elvis. I pin it to my flannel, proud to wear it.
puffer's band, _the new herald turners_ goes on and they do a good half-hour. puffer kind of sings like lee ranaldo. joe, on guitar, plays kind of like warren haynes (says j and I agree). interesting. they close w/a cover of syd's floyd space jam, "astronomy domine." their first gig, a good one.
the dressing room is like five feet square and mostly filled w/guitars but I wedge myself down on the deck to wait. the stage gest cleared and set for us. our gear (especially j's) has bogarted the stage big time. it takes some effort to get puffer's band's stuff out the back hatch and down those steel stairs but david and eric do an incredible job. we're up.
j's got the _blue oyster cult_ song "the red and the black" first. all right, the fog's cherry performance for this one. however, after george's great four bar drum solo/intro, I break the 'e' string (the thickest one) on the very first note. damn. j keeps things afloat by going right into "severed lips" while I do the string change. a verse into it, I get things together and rejoin him and george and it smokes. the we do the b.o.c. tune and save for an big clam george blows near the end (he thought the four slams for the finale were coming a little more ahead than was to be), we do it up right. thanks to both j and george. I started playing this song w/d. boon almost thirty years ago and I've shared it w/all the folks who've played w/me in all my bands and a lot of bands that have shared tour bills too. it's the common thread tune that's gone done all the years w/me. so sweet of the fog to be the latest link in that chain. then the somber "alone" shifts the dynamic of the set. j tears up some intense lead guitar here. great. "back before you go," "blowin' it," "budge," and "all the girls" follow and cook like hotcakes. we're ready to start flag's "I've had it" when there's something up w/the "big cheese" pedal j uses for this really crinkled fuzz sound - maybe it was plugged in backwards cuz it's a no-go. he signals me to do "maggot brain" instead, I space for some reason for a moment and then get it together and start the intro spiel. wow, what a stratosphere-piercer of a solo he launches here. I am very much in awe of this man and his guitar. "repulsion" next, just as if we did do the black flag tune and then "same day." I finally get the choruses right at the end (I know cuz I ask him right after the tune in his ear - george thinks we're saying something secret but I tell him not to worry). a big stomp w/"I'm not fine" and after the tune I have a little statement for mr. puffer right on the mic. I hope it makes him smile. the peel medley comes after - so fun to play this one and then "where'd ya go?" and "waistin'." j dedicates "amma ring" to "all those w/an amma ring" and a trippy thing happens to me in the final jam part - tears just burst from my eyes and keep flowing. it's not like they ran down my cheeks but rather like my eyes were squirting them out, like spray. so bizarre, trips me out. I don't know how that happened. an intense "tv eye"' for the closer and we're off. I tell j about that tear spout stuff w/my eyes and he pulls a picture out of amma from his pocket. what a trip to see her. reminds me of that intense event that happened to me in the same tune when we played in adelaide, australia about five weeks ago. whoa.
we encore w/"more light," "not right" (I tell folks we're doing another stooges' tune and they're wild for that) and "freak scene." there, we're done. lots of good talk from cats in the crowd. one guy gives me bob pollard's (_guided by voices_ pilot man) entire planned release schedule for the next year - damn, does that cat have a lot on the burner! more power to you, bob. great to hear. the cat also gives me a picture of bob w/someone's finger up his nose. incredibly flattering. good raps w/lots of cats and then finally into the van for the ride to the ho. puffer's band is staying downtown here and george is going to "pahtee wicked" w/them so just me and j ride w/eric to the ho in the town coralville next door. I strip, wrap and crumple only to have to move in a little bit for david and ray. I hear the tv go on (david's motherly blue light emanator) but no matter - the gig has sapped me and I am out like that.
saturday, march 31, 2001 - madison, wi
I pop gasping. god damn, the heater's been on all night! how did ray take it? he was laying right there next to the thing, must've been like a giant fucking hair dryer, wailing on him. the room is like a shvitz and my lungs are completely dried out. they feel like two parched and shriveled leather sacks. I go to the head and try to work up a loogie. no such luck. 'gar residue collects like moistureless little pebbles and rattle about in my mouth but can break free from the dry film that binds them. damn. I get dressed as fast as possible and get the fuck out of that torture chamber. no wonder for the nightmares I was having last night. I dreamt I was a spindely tumbleweed, all barren and just rolling on a hot desert floor. then I felt like a piece of spaghetti pasta being stretched thin-thin-thin through the tines of a fork, as if the tines were getting closer and closer together as I was being stretched through. there's a cold driving rain outside but no matter - I need some fucking air or I'm gonna go even more nuts than I already am. there's a perkins across the highway. not a stephen perkins, who is one righteous man but rather a restaurant chain named 'perkins' that's kind of like "denny's" swill. I want pork chops. I have the taste for pork chops. so I go get some pork chops. I do my first postcards of the tour too, finally have the chance. then it's back out into the rain and over to the ho. we're ready to roll. I give the cards to the lady there behind the desk cuz hell if I can find a box out on a highway in this weather. I wonder if they read them? david said the other day that's why he won't give his to them and will wait for a u.s. postal service mail box. w/me though, these cards have iowa stuff on them, the words i-o-w-a, giant ears of corn, a rainbow in an iowa sky and I want the postmark to read iowa cuz we're crossing into wisconsin soon and I don't want them mailed there. that's what wisconsin cards are for.
as we enter into wisconsin, the weather turns real heavy - it starts snowing! last day of march and it's snowing! well, maybe that's regular here, I can't really say. I've done this state a bunch in the fall and spring though and never had had it snow. this kind of driving makes me scared, ice could be anywhere. people are jamming too, fuck. how should one act? just don't care? don't look out the window? I keep my head down and type on the 'puter. you don't want to make the driver nervous but damn, how do you convey concern w/out making it seem like an attack on the ego? quite a conundrum. maybe I'm too used to driving it all myself on my tours. I haven't driven a bit on any of these tours of j's. I don't know these rentals. I do know my boat. I know this might seem like a tiny issue but it gnaws at me big time. fuck, both georgie and edward (fIREHOSE) would tell me what's up when I was screwing up, no hold barred. I don't want to make things difficult here though - this is not my tour, I'm only a sidemouse.
now madison is on an isthmus between lakes monona and mandota so you can imagine what the wind gets like there. in fact, we're driving on the north end and some of lake monona is frozen over. damn. we're playing the _barrymore theatre_, a pad I've played a couple times before and man, is it an airplane hanger. even has lights in the cieling that makes it look like a night sky w/stars. tom layton, a friend who's put on almost all my shows here in this town is the boss. great to see tom again. he just got a powerbook and has been doing those newbie things like porn and ebay. he'll get it together and start using it to hook into the parallel universes, roll w/the flow. I'll learn him through the list, we're all broadcasters and receivers w/this tool. no one way streets here.me and him get to talking about the sad demise of _okayz corral_ around new years. seems a fire started behind the comedy club next to it and though it wasn't burned down like the comedy pad, it was structurally ruined and had to be knocked down. damn. did a lot of gigs at that pad.
my team goes to chow at a mexican pad next door. that's a trip how far the latin reach is in the u.s. and we're not talking bunk shit like taco bell. I dig it. since I broke that 'e' string last night, maybe some others are ready to go too so I change the other three. it matches the sound more too. a new string is much different sounding than an old one, you want all four to age together so they can sound consistant.this pouch my buddy tony gave me that goes w/the leatherman-like tool is tearing it to all hell. I need this tool cuz it's got pliers and the strings are just too long for the little bass. maybe I can find another one somewhere. george says maybe I can find one in an army-navy store. we got one in pedro, I bet I could find one there but we ain't in pedro.
the opening band is a local one, the _mad truckers gone mad_ and they start up their set of fast driving boom-boom-pap. this is one big pad and we got a short draw tonight. damn, saturday night too. another thing is j is sick. woke up w/fever this morning but he's a trooper and gonna give it his all. he's konked on the couch the whole time before we go on. we let the buddy rich pep talk go on to almost the end before taking the stage - over twelve minutes of buddy delivering the good time. there's four segments and damn, if they ain't intense. you've never hear anything like it. j's written a good set list and appropriate - we start the gig w/"alone." there's a fucking dick who keeps yelling "ball-hog" at me. other cats yell back "tugboat" and I much appreciated to them. what's this asshole's problem? I'm here to support j, not be a fucking ball-hog. he hasn't even heard me play yet. definite butt-suck. at the beginning and all through "same day," "all the girls" and "out there" - he does the same thing. finally, folks are saying to him "we get it, ball-hog" just to shut him the fuck up. I do a farmerblow and fire some mocos right on the stage next to me. I point at him and say "that's for you." his yap finally seals up, well all right. it's not a fucking competition - I'm here as a sidemouse to help j, take that fucking competitive shit and put it where the sun don't shine, get the damper out of your pamper and leave me the fuck alone. pay somebody to help you work it out in therapy. don't be such a selfish dick and ruin the gig for everyone. dress up as your favorite rockstar and jump around in front of a mirror but keep me out of your voodoo doll fantasies and the fucking petty, bitter pins that go along w/it. damn, I'm wasting way more energy here on someone than he deserves. he'd probably consider that a victory. enough then. into "back before you go," "I'm not fine" and the stooges' "I got a right." j tells the folks he's a little under the weather but I think he's doing an incredible job. some old ones, "the lung," "severed lips," the "I've had it"/"repulsion" couplet. so trippy to see those "stars" that seem to be twinkling from the roof. they got the pad so dark that all you can see is the pit, none of the chairs and back. that's cool. not that I spend a lot of time looking at the crow - in fact, I hardly do. like w/perry, I watch j and george like ninety percent of the time. I'm inspired by j and w/george, I want to lock in tight. I get offered up a small care package from a bearded cat, some macanudo ascots 'gars and some cds. next we do "amma ring," "little fury things" and close w/the stooges' "loose." we go downstairs. I pat j on the back cuz he great under the hell of sickness and the flannel he's wearing over his t-shirt is totally dry. man, this guy hardly sweats at any gigs, even w/fucking fever. me, however, am drenched - whoa. we go back up and do "more light," "freak scene" and "tv eye." so glad that asshole dick w/the smartass mouth is gone for the encore.
me and j go sit in the room below the stage and chat. the opening band is playing catch w/a softball and mitts. j tells me about having to cut a band from a tour a former manager foisted on him and one of the reasons was them playing street hockey backstage. these cats are just having fun and we only got one show w/them. pretty nice guys. this cat named geoff comes in to give me a bottle el yucateco green chili sauce. thanks, geoff. he's been reading my tour diary and wants to talk about it, wants to be in it! trippy when the observer interferes w/his observation. he's from the north part of this state and has seen the aurora borealis - man, I hope to see those one day. he's seen 'em tons. his talk is kind of like canadian folks, I've notice this about northern wisconsin, minnesota and michigan cats. it's cool to hear it. I like folks talking different from different parts, keeps shit interesting. he's got an interesting flannel too, also interesting is the way he buttons it - one side higher than the other so you're one short at the bottom and have got one extra at the top. I do that sometimes too. robin, the first bassist for the _tar babies_ and an old friend, comes by to say hi. great to see him. he's got a son w/him and I'm happy as hell to hear he's playing bass, just like his pop.
go to the van for the ride to the ho and see some cats outside their ride - one is the guy who gave me the 'gars from the stage. I tell them thanks, especially for the birthday card for d. boon, so nice of them. george is going w/david to see john spencer's sister's band. ray's from jefferson, right near here in madison so he's going w/some of his friends. just me, j and eric. we get to the ho and watt's alone in the room for his konk. two empty beds and an idiot curled by the hatch. buenos noche.
sunday, april 1, 2001 - chicago, il
it's d. boon's birthday. pop and find the room empty. whoa, it was a solimente konk. I'm hoping there wasn't a wreck w/the truck or anything. damn. tub soak then up and out to hoof. snow everywhere but the sky is cloudless and the set bright against the azure field above. brisk wind so I am brisk w/the hoof. I want pork chops again. I get perkins (the restaurant) again. the lengths I gotta go to. the crunch of the snow under the feet is a delight. no ice so no fear of knee twists w/a tumble. I'm grateful for that. the crisp air in the lung is an invigorator, definitely. I want to holler out but don't, squarejohns might be get freaked and there's a bunch out. my learn to coexist, dwell within your own parallel universe. I just dig being alive at the moment.
I get back to the room and call my ma like I do on sundays. my aunt's giving her shit for speaking her mind, my aunt should step the fuck back. she's telling her not to talk to her brother and 'pollute' him w/ideas. the hell w/that, lady. I tell my ma to make some space between them 'til she figures the shit out (my aunt, that is). ray comes to the hatch and I find out he got a room w/his buds and david stayed in the room w/george and eric so that mystery is solved. david's been having trouble konking cuz of snoring - guess me and ray tear it up w/our sucking the paint off the wall. sorry, david. didn't mean to be the pea under your mattress.
the clocks move ahead one hour last night (we're in daylight savings time now) so we lost an hour. we head southeast to chicago, town of my conception. on the way we stop for gas, j and eric get some taco bell. george is admirable and maintains the discipline. I pry open a 'dine tin and savor the righteous medley of them w/crackers and habanero sauce. j gets a stomach ache right away. eric starts chowing his while he's driving, letting go of the wheel. this scares me in tight traffic at high speed and I say something like "you want me to drive?" he says no and so I say "then how about pulling over and chowing that way." of course, this is taken as belig and a huffy thing ensues. I wish I could of found a more tactful way of putting it but I was scared. more local politics. a freeze-out for watt now from eric, I'll have to be creative and do some damage control. I get us talking about stuff I know we can all have fun w/but eric doesn't want to join in any reindeer games. maybe only time to heal this one. I got to learn more tact in my fucking spiel. just have to. there's other ways to get your point across than just making folks feel bad. anyone can tell people what to do but someone who has it together can inspire people to find the answers within themselves.
we get to downtown chicago effortlessly, damn what a difference from the last time when we we're in a l.a.-style plug for hours. we go first to the ho, the cass and I do some chimpin' on the 'puter there 'til soundcheck. we're playing the _house of blues_ here tonight and is this a freaky scene w/like three rows of balconies going up in and on the sides of the stage. _cobra verde_ is opening up and it's great to see them again since we last played together in nashville. the people here at the club are nice but what a scene. well, I work the rooms and I'm grateful to do that, no matter where duty calls. I'm a equal-opportunity gig doer, none is too big or too small - just want a chance to wrestle the bass. trippy to do it in a bourgeois pad sometimes, they don't know what to expect and you can blow some mind w/the thumps.
the chow for tonight is made at this pad but I'm gonna pass. I do eat veggies from the tray that was brought in. I have ginger tea too. I go to a place a couple rooms over. there's like a five foot diaganol tv in the main room and everyone's glued to it. tv party tonight. I need to get away quick so that's why I'm in that room. I chimp some dairy. the verdes come on and I watch them from maybe twenty feet above them. freaky. I go downstairs and right up front stage to get the real deal. then back up to that room I was in to chimp diary.
who comes by but springa. he just came back from a little kid party that wore him out and even more had a clown there that freaked him out. boy, does he have some stories. the first one was about him at the old _ritz_ in nyc and the dolls are playing w/stiv bators singing "pills." brian james is there, richard hell too. damn. stiv hangs over the stage and the crowd tears his pants off. springa is then hurled up onto the stage, grabs the mic and starts singing "nursey, nursey..." later, he's by the crisscrossing stairs and sees this biker dropping tabs of l into whiskys and bringing upstairs to the green room. springa follows and out of a boombox is playing some _deep purple_ tune off of "machine head." in the corner, springa see joey ramone scribbling on some paper and he tells me his guess was this is where joey wrote "somebody put something in my drink" cuz the melody is real close to that tune of the purp's (maybe it's called "never again" or something?). then he's got another story about him and chris dougherty (gangreen) dressing up as angus young for some ac/dc contest, complete w/cardboard cuttouts of angus' guitar. he tells me how angus told him do the move "three steps up and then two back down - got it mate?" springa's a riot. he's not wrapped in as many layers as last time too. I give him my pass where I wrote a 'f' before the word 'artist.'
I hear the buddy rich inspirational chat and know we got five minutes. bye springa. cuz of d. boon's birthday, I ask j to do "the red and the black" and he puts it first. much respect, j. right away, the mic stand falls to like belt buckle level and I gotta take my hands off the little bass to adjust the thing. damn, what's up? the tune starts out good but the whole end piece has the drums flipping over and getting backwards on the beat like three times or something. being a fast two step lick on the drums, even a tiny hesitation puts you on the other side and recovery almost impossible. it's a motherlode of clams, careening it into a terrible mess of a train wreck at the end. sorry, d. boon - our spirit was there even if the ability seem impaired. these cats will get the tune the more times we play it. "out there," "I'm not fine" and then something's up "all the girls" - the guitar keeps cutting out. seems it's something out of his rack that works all his effects boxes. his version of the notorious 'dachau' I call these setups. I started calling them that w/nels cuz it seems guitarists are toatally at the mercy of these rube goldberg pieces of plumbing, one little glitch and the whole works has your sound cut and your guiatar out of the race. things somehow get back together for the peel medley, "same day, "alone" and "little fury things" but in "back before you go," we gotta extend the intro while he just bypasses the whole mess and goes straight into the marshalls. I admire the way j keeps cool and doesn't become flustered. it's a real inspiration. we go to "the lung" and boy, am I hearing some fartin' out. when j does the singing in this one, he stops w/the guitar and you can really hear how bad these 12s in the 4x12 cab sound. ready to sieze, it sounds like. I don't know how much longer they're gonna hold out. luckily, ray's got most my sound coming out of the direct box. the problem there though is that we don't have our own (I forgot to bring my 'countryman' d.i.) and we gotta use whatever's at the pad and that can be kind of sketchareeny sometimes. j goes back into his rack for the "I've had it"/"repulsion" couplet and things seem to work, kind of. there's still intermittent shit going on. "amma ring" and then finish w/"I got a right." right away I discuss the clam shit in "the red and the black' w/george - not an admonishment but just to talk things over musically. I gotta say the whole set had kind of a weak rhythm section feel. this wasn't all george's fault, I bear just as much responsibility. damn, I was trying to keep it together and I'm sure george was to but things just were wobbly. we do "severed lips,"freak scene" and "tv eye" for the encore. I'm the first up in the room and sit there by myself for a little while. j comes and we discuss the gig. I apologize for what I thought was some sloshed playing by his bassist and drummer. george comes up w/a autobiography by the dali lama that some cat handed up to him to give to me. thank you!
upstairs, j tells me he's feeling better - the sickness is broken so that's a good thing. I go downstairs and there's some cats there who say thanks for the show. one of them asks what bass I was working and I told him it was an early 60s gibson eb-3 (you don't know how many people try to call the little bass an 'sg' - that's a guitar, the basses were always an 'eb') and I said people like jack bruce from the _cream_ played them. they're not so popular these days. now this guy isn't that young but he's never heard of that band. this kind of blows me away, it's a trip when you realize that things you think that are so commonplace become lost to the more recent times. how could you not know those cats? but then my pop was probably thinking how could anyone not know _the mills brothers_ too. shows to go you or something like that. very nice fellas - hey, one's a got a _descendents_ sweatshirt on, all right.
springa's w/george and gets in the van w/us. he'd given me a napkin after the gig in the dressing room w/words he wrote while we were playing. he says he's got about sixty songs. he dug this word I used, 'squarejohns' and said he wanted to someday do something w/me under that name. he's some of the words:
everything coming early this year
telepathic phone lines
so you don't
have to talk
we get to the cass hotel and george says he has to make a call and be right over. of course that's a bullshit and he bails quick to some bar that j was brought to by ed roeser and beth. why say stuff like that, george? whatever, springa is in my room and telling me stories. he says he came to this town to act and almost got the part to play john candy during his seventeen through twentyone years in a movie of his life story. damn, that would've been great for him. he said he was so close. he tells me this little tip he said john doe (x) told him about how to tell if there's anyone gay at a party w/out being obvious. what you're supposed to do is call out "ring, ring, ring goes the trolly" and if someone replies "ding, ding, ding goes the bell," then you found your man. springa wants to try one of my habanero chilies and chomps one just like that - a whole half of one. he's fucking cherry to this so I tell him to spit it out quick but too late, the oils have been absorbed and they are taking effect. sorry, springa. a very enjoyable time he's provided but things are getting tired for me so it's down to the deck I go and I do the blankie wrap. the mask pulled over the eyes clears up any mysteries regarding my next intentions so springa hits the lights and says good night. thanks, springa.
monday, april 2, 2001 - cleveland, oh
pop and find a new friend in the room here. ray too. no david though, he went w/the truck last night to get a start on getting to cleveland - he was raised there and it's where his family is. this new friend is debbie and she was a tour manager for lou (sebadoh). she likes the smell of the backwoods and wants to smoke one so I flow. she just konked here so no weird ideas, please.
I chimp some diary on the 'puter 'til it's time to bail. ed roeser and beth take us to some chow pad but I stay in the van to chimp. man, they're taking a while so I go and get a sandwich at some nyc style deli thing and I get liverwurst on a roll. almost ten fucking dollars! damn. I don't know when I last paid that much for something like this. that's show biz. it does taste good. I always get them w/mustard, tomato, lettuce and onions. of course, I gotta dave it up. I never eat these in cali. none of the chow pads have liverwurst. I always get one when I'm in nyc though. this chicago version is ok though, just too much god damn money.
next, ed and beth take us to a guitar store but again, I stay in the van. I tell ed and beth I hope they don't think I think they're not happening or anything. I just watt on watt time. I take a snap of them w/the digicamera and get their email address. oh oh, an aol address. I give them my veiews on that and beth says she might change to something like 'earthlink' which she says she has stock in. bingo. we say bye and head east to cleveland.
damn, it's like after three and we got some miles to do. also, we'll be crossing a time zone in indiana and we'll lose an hour there. no rush to get to cleveland, it's a day off but then we got to clear out before the hell traffic starts. we just squeeze by and get out of town, ahead of the plug. it's a calm ride in most ways except I start reacting to some stuff I perceive to be shit being said and I have to admit (though not proudly) that I'm slinging heavy retorts back. in my mind, it's to make people think about what they're saying but I realize now it might sound like the ravings of a mean man. might? probably, absolutely did. though, believe or not, that was not my intent. truly. but w/folks not knowing that, it can definitely put a damper in the pamper. aaarrrrrggghhhh. perception is always nine tenths of the law.
we stop for gas and there's some postcards. I get some that have the "lighthouses of ohio." what? well, ohio's northern border is lake erie and yep, there's lighthouses on the shore. it's a trip to see them on postcards though. you might not think of lighthouses when you think about the midwest. that's what's good about touring, physically going to places and finding shit out - not letting others always learning things for you. I treasure that benefit from working the towns w/the bass. thanks, tour.
we get into cleveland around ten at night. david's already in town w/his family. j, george and eric want to see steve malkmus so they go there while me and ray stay at the ho, a super eight. ray is sick w/a cold. he orders a pizza. I eat some and damn, is it weak. some doses of dave's to do something w/it and soon the mocos are runneth over, out my nose. eyes flood too. I dig it. even shitty peetz can get saved w/the power of the habanero. thanks, chilies. ray konks quick, he's laid low by this sickness shit. I chimp a little on the 'puter and then my time has come too. the deck calls. konk calls. watt answers.
tuesday, april 3, 2001 - cleveland, oh
pop and soak. eat one of those peetz pieces left in the box (daved up, of course). then out the hatch to hoof. sun is out, yellow as all hell but there's coldness in the air. we're in an area that's still being developed and there's a bunch of open space. there's a lone goose out hoofing too. he's honking a bunch, look for his compadres. none to be found. I walk w/him from about ten feet away and honk too so he doesn't feel so lonely. he helps me w/the same thing. we walk (waddle?) for a while.
I go back to the room and ray's still konked which is good so he can fight the sickness. I use the 'puter for email. I get an intense one from my boss (j) asking what is up w/the 'tude, watt? it's a very heart-felt letter, not just a belig dress-down and it really makes me think about what the hell am I doing, what am I putting these cats through? even if I have good intentions, how are my actions and behavior affecting the overall situation here? one can get so oblivious to what to others is so obvious. even if you can rationalize that kind of shit w/excuses or whatever, it's still poison to the overall atmosphere and how can that make for good touring? I immediately write him back and start the email w/what I think can be solutions, what I can do myself to make things better - changes I can do w/my behavior. then I try to explain where I'm coming from. what I really want to tell him and do write many times is to say that I'm sorry. truly. I ask him if we can take a walk and talk. he comes by the room in a few minutes. face to face, I tell him I'm sorry and tell him my thoughts on why I react the way I do to stuff I feel is prejudiced, small-minded and just mean. but I also admit that me getting mean back is so fucking stupid when I think about it and thank him for pointing these things out to me. I'm gonna make it a lot easier to ride in the van for everyone. I am committed to it. a lot of respect to j for asking me to be accountable for my actions, to think about what consequences can arise from them. I sensed no power trip from him, rather just a friend asking me what was going on and why. dave hill (cobra verde bass) comes by to take j to the "rock and roll hall of fame." I go off to have a real good think.
david comes w/the truck and I go w/him and ray to the pad we're playing tonight - one we just played like two months ago, the _grog shop_ in the cleveland heights part of town. I help unload and set things up. so much different than w/my bands, just so much more gear and all these cases. takes a little bit of time but now I know what ray and david go through. the boss kathy's here and she gives some chinese chow. I eat some green beans, they're good. great to see soundman mike, this guy knows how to make it sound good at the grog. we do soundcheck and the verdes come by. they're the openers tonight, the home team. also on tap is jimmy zero from the _dead boys_, who was connected w/me via uncle ray. thanks, uncle ray. amazing we get to play w/another cat from the old days. funny too cuz of folks saying I'm like from old days. there's always older days and cats before you. what you can do is make sure shit is handed down and shared w/the younger folks coming up. it's not where you're from, it's where you're at. that's a good thing I've heard before and never have forgotten. makes sense to me.
I'm in the little room kathy has for an office and a dressing room and george comes in to give me a brochure he found at the ho about 'caves of the world' (our word for an empty pad you're doing a gig at is a 'cave') and I ask him to sit down. I tell george I'm sorry for all the snipes I've been taking at him and all the shit I've been slinging on him lately. I tell him it was mean and even I was trying to get him to think about some of the shit he was saying, it was a way wrong to approach things and I feel like an idiot. I want to reassure him as both a friend and his rhythm partner that I'm gonna get rid of that stupid behavior and think more about what comes out of my word hole. he accepts my apologies, he is a true dear. I just need him to know where I'm coming from. I don't have much time left to playact or costume feelings and want to be straightforward and honest. that doesn't mean I have to say things that hurt and cause nightmare tension. a big contrition day for watt. whew, I'm glad I could do this though and help clear the air. thanks, george and again, thank you, j.
john (verde singer) has a friend jeff who comes by to interview me. before the spiel begins, he gives me a tin of 'dines. whoa, some high-quality stuff: two layer "prince of norway" 'dines. damn, thank you jeff. he asks really good questions and the spiel is a breeze to do. I then go up the street to some pad that makes hippy burritos and get a salad (it's got black beans and squash chunks too). my nerves are a little wiggly and I expended a lot of energy w/some intense thinking. can't run on empty.
the verdes go on and I get right up front stage. they're great. I liked their nashville gig last week the best (probably my favorite cobra verde gig ever) but this is good too. when will john play guitar again? he only did the first time he played w/me. frank is the greatest but I'd trip to hear them duel it out. it's a trip how all the cats in the band have their own bands. dave w/_sons of elvis_, chas w/_einstein's secret orchestra_, frank w/_quasimodo_ and mark w/_breaker_. mark's also helping jimmy zero w/some recording too. they get done and we're next.
I wear my levi jacket like an idiot for the first tune "blowin' it." I don't want to sweat it up cuz it's the only coat I got and we're in the north of the country now. we do the song up good though. same w/"I'm not fine" and when we get done I finally get some sense to take the coat off for "back before you go." in "get me," I space big time and totally blow the fucking bass solo. instead, I started singing the chorus so I guess it was vocal solo. I'm so embarrassed. we do the peel medley next and I blow some clams in that too but not so big. what's up though, maybe my nerves - I have a full plate of thinking up in the braincase. we do "same day" and I blow the chorus. fuck. and I've been finally getting that right the last few gigs. "all the girls" is better. we do the stooges' "real cool time" and that one is kind of tough for me - haven't done that in a while but I was dig blowing the shit out of it but for some reason I'm chokin' like a fucking cluck. damn. j burns righteously w/the wah-wah though and makes up for weak watt. george ain't too confident in this one either and sounds stiff. oh well. I get better w/the next ones, "waistin'," "budge," "amma ring" and "the wagon." boy, is it sweaty in here - the crowd is so great though. a pleasure to play for them. trippy shit on "out there" - j goes wild w/the arrangement - very freeform. he's pretty animated tonight, I always watch him but it's really a trip to see him kick wild, I dig it. we close the set w/"heaven" and it's david's cherry shot at doing the background part (the "you!" dancer was doing at the end of last tour). he gets scared and I almost have to pull teeth to get him up there but he comes through. however, he chokes and says his line only twice instead of the three times like it's supposed to be. that's ok, first times are always rough and awkward.
for the encore we call out john (from the verdes) for the singing and jimmy zero to joins us on guitar. john's got a cheat sheet (I had to give him the lyrics earlier) but he wrote the shit way too small and hell if he can read that from where he's standing so he just makes shit up. he also doesn't know exactly where things go (doesn't everyone know these stooges classics by fucking heart? what's up?). his stage moves more than make up for it though. jimmy's playing great too. one thing though is the amp's too tiny. like he says later "I came loaded for rabbit when I should've been set for bear." I can hear him though cuz his amp is right next to me. what's really funny is the last chorus where the band breaks open for john to sing "I'm gonna stick it," pause "deep inside," pause again and then "I'm gonna stick it..." but instead, he says: "I'm gonna stick it deep inside, I'm gonna stick it deep inside, I'm gonna stick it deep inside, I'm gonna stick it deep inside." it's funny as hell. he jumps off the stage and we then do "tv eye."
boy, am I drenched. lots of good vibes all about. thank you, cleveland. uncle ray shows me this picture from the newspaper of a guess, using some scientific methods, at what christ might've really looked like. "broad, peasant's face with a prominent nose, dark olive skin and short curly hair." interesting. I tell jimmy zero it was an honor playing w/him and if he ever needs some bass on a recording, he can call me - no prob. we pack up and say bye to everyone and head for the ho. it's both the crew cats and me again in the same room but george comes by to visit a little bit and help stem the adrenaline rush w/a little mota. thanks, george. I'm already prone and bundled. I take hits w/the mask on and drift away from this emotionally intense day and into sueneo, glad and grateful to know I got some really righteous friends as bandmates.
read week 2 of the tour diary
read week 4 of the tour diary
loop back to mike watt's hoot page