mike watt and the crew of the flying saucer
"shinebox" tour '95
october 21 - 31, 1995
10/21 GAINESVILLE, FLA coin laundry
What a weird life...
A bizarre & intense life last night. T.J. Kirk played. Now I've heard them. It was pretty painful to hear so much talent & effort expended to do overly clever trivialization of classical music. It was wink 'n' grin fusion--all super accurate & freeze-dried w/silly hats, silly moves--and no emotion. Scott kicks ass. Charlie Hunter is a freak of nature, w/his simultaneous guitar/ bass thing defying belief--I saw, I heard, but I still didn't believe. John & Will play really well. It's novelty music. Seeing a fusoid chub like Charlie Hunter wiggle his khaki ass was almost revolting. Smugness threatened. What could I say? They bailed right away, driving straight back from Orlando to San Francisco. 55 hours...
The Fibbers set up (no soundcheck) in an air of confusion. But their set was galvanizing. A crowd finally did show up, & I think they really connected. The inherent drama & beauty of their songs were gloriously present. The dynamics crushingly beautiful. In short, inspiring. Carla smiled a lot (later telling me she felt "devil may care"). It ruled, OK? "Outside of Town" mashed w/gorgeous drama & controlled violence.
We set up as fast as possible, drum stuff moved by Vince (close to blitzed again), Michael, Kevin (what a sterling human), Watt & me. "Aye! Let's play this one before the day breaks!" Watt exclaimed (it was after midnight). The place was now packed. I was going out of tune right away (probably from pounding the guitar w/fist, etc.). Watt was all impatient about my furtive efforts to tune up, which pissed me off. Sure, let's not stop. Let's play a shitty out-of-tune set. Vaudeville wasn't even that stupid...so I went for it. The scene was exactly what I think Watt wanted for this tour: smaller pads filled w/people &, consequently, energy. Vince is hurting. Serious muscle pull under his left arm. Between that + too much saucing, he kind of got mowed down last night--dropping sticks, etc.
Some funny stuff happened. Carla had to use my mic, but Steve & I both spaced & my mic ended up down by Watt, so I couldn't sing on "The Red & the Black". Carla came up for "70s", & "Pedro", then left the mic by Watt--so on "The 15th" I had to do the fratboy break by walking around Vince's drums & trying to sing into his mic. Pretty funny, getting my guitar chord all tangled up in Vince's bass drum lugs--audience members freed me.
By the time we got to "Tuff Gnarl", I was kind of in a frenzy.. At the end of the tune, I almost took a header right into Vince's drums. Dervish Death Dance.
Encores w/"Piss Bottle" (Kevin again on falsetto). "My Secret Garden", "Joe McCarthy's Ghost", then a quick segue into "Maggot Brain" (this surprised me), during which I wrung myself dry, broke a B-string. Felt like I had redeemed myself after the Charleston version. Watt vamped on & on--perhaps 10 minutes? It was a marathon. Solo Watt on "Powerful Hankerin", & all was over. I was wacked, almost in tears. The Fibbers were all blown. I kept thinking about their set. I was soaked. Jesse pecked me delicately, said I rock her universe, that she'd hug me but I was too sweaty. Later I sat w/Carla, her arm around me, trying to tell her my impressions of the effectiveness of their set, etc., & I was a fucking drip--choking on my words, squirming. She kept laughing & smiling, insisting that she wasn't laughing at me. I had a cognac after loading out, big hugs from Carla (no fear of sweat this girl). I felt horrible/wonderful.
Outside was sausage cart stench, young bods on the prowl, boom cars, Latin stereo saturation. A real trip.
Back to the Mo' & a scene had developed. Every time I get warped & ecstatic after a set, there's an eruption. Watt & Vince (drunk?) into it, Vince (I guess, since Steve, very soberly, had me & Michael bail) going on about Michael, about how fucked up he is or something...
Woke up & watched "The Tick" w/Michael (The return of El Seed!). A beautiful, humidity-free, fall day. Now we're de-stenching & nervous about moods tonight. At least the Covered Dish has a good vibe rep. Maybe this famously nice fellow-in-charge Bill can be the healing balm we need to get thru the night. And the beloved Fibbers will be there. I find my status on the tour odd & a bit tense--I'm floating, keeping Michael away from everyone--sort of. I want to be closer to what's happening w/Watt, but I guess it's not supposed to be & perhaps it's a good thing. But it's strange nonetheless.
D.D. Tomorrow ------ ATLANTA!
Watt's really worried about the big pad being a cave. Praying for a decent night, a decent rest of the tour. Vince & Michael are practically individually quarantined @ this point. God help us!
10/22 - ATLANTA, GA, the Masquerade dressing room
D.D.'s here -- she's lying on the couch trying to rest. She woke up @ 6 A.M. after flying in @ midnight. We just ate dinner w/her on-line e-World pals, Catherine Smith & Jerry Tyler, who are an actual on-line romance!
Thoughts about Gainesville:
A beautiful day, weatherwise. Post-laundromat Michael & I went to the Covered Dish. Got there too early--waited, & Bill showed up. Hung w/him & yes, he's a nice fellow indeed. Michael was all happy 'cause he had a Stiegl beer from Salzburg, town of his heritage.
Loaded in & set up then waited interminably for the P.A. to get happening. I helped the Fibbers load in, changed strings, did the November New Music Monday flyer, showed Daniel my little acoustic guitar & still no P.A. haps. Carla emerged late & in a funk--a bad day. She napped on my folded up Polvo shirt while I futzed around. After running thru parts of "Sidemouse Advice" for eventual set inclusion, our soundcheck ended w/avalanches of monitor feedback.
I went to dinner alone, seeking out an alleged Cuban place. Dining alone is bizarre, especially on a Saturday night. Members of the Fibbers showed up there. I didn't think they saw me (I was kind of hiding), but they did & Gloria sweetly said hi...I ate, didn't hang. Bought Carla some sweets, a cookie & a brownie, to try to brighten her evening (though she's cut all vices except for cigs, I notice she likes a cookie now & again).
Caught a bit of opening locals, Superball--kind of annoying. Nice post-Slint strumming, but an obnoxious vocalist, who was wearing a tuxedo shirt & a jacket. Celebratory. Went out to my car & did my nails, holding a flashlight under my chin & applying the dark blue that Stephanie gave me. My odd satisfactions. Talked to some kids in the parking lot & went in to catch the Fibbers. After a shaky sound, things started to really gel. They did some cover songs. The opener was poignant as hell, starting w/violin & arco bass, Carla stepping in @ the last sec to sing...chills. It's a little unnerving now that I know Carla sights me when she sings--but I won't hide 'cause she likes seeing me (& Vince, I presume. He's always out there swooning & conducting in an Anthony Quinn-like way.). "The Small Song" kicked ass, ok? It was the 1st time my eyes didn't tear upon hearing "Lilybelle", but all my hair still stands up (actually, just hearing the song this morning in my head caused me to tear up, so timing is everything). Carla smiles during the intro to "Lilybelle". Is she thinking about the devastating effect it has? She knows. The crowd was cool to the Fibbers. A good set. "Get Thee Gone" was like being alternately burned & balmed-- wicked.
Our set -- jeez. It started w/Sarge (Watt) constantly saying "5 seconds we start,"--"10 seconds 'til downbeat," (a term picked up on this term from Michael, used purely for irony)--"5 seconds & it's GO!", etc. very annoying.
Especially since between being surrounded by drum gear & mic stands every night, I can never even get to my gear for several minutes. I should have known @ this point that this would be a trying night.
The place was full & sort of Dionysian in set-up--a pit full of humans surrounded by 3 ledges full of humans...
Broke a string (E) on "Big Train", the 4th tune. I hate that, so early in the set. From then on a series of little mishaps occurred, like bumping the pickup switch on this infernal Jaguar 3 times & turning the pickups off. Now it's gaff-taped, O la Carla's guitars. Kicked Michael's bass drum mic right out of the drum. And so on. "Intense Song" was pretty good, as was "The 15th". Anyway, I felt kind of soiled. Easily let down after the previous night's dervish tranceout in Orlando...
Carla sang; Jesse sat in. I love that. Jesse ripped it up! Sent me into a whirl. "Tuff Gnarl" ended w/me falling all over the mics, wires, & Vince's drums (eyes were closed, ok?) & diving on the ground to get the tight stop @ the end. I guess it could have been a cool visual, but I thought I probably just looked stupid.
Encores: "Piss Bottle" w/Kevin, "Secret Garden" & "Joe McCarthy's Ghost" & Watt's solo "Powerful Hankerin". I felt lost. ..wilted. Packed up fast., using the load-out as (unsuccessful) therapy. Outside, Kevin said the sexiest thing: "When you thing that Madonna song it's like you're one of the sexiest men alive," to which I said, "Fuck you," thinking he was bullshitting. But he wasn't! Gloria wanted to know if I wanted to go "disco dancing". "I just want to shoot myself."
More funny stuff: A kid came up & asked me if it was true that I was in Bongwater. "No. Sorry." "Television?" "No, but I did rip off Tom Verlaine tonight..." ...Television?
In desperation, I went into the dressing room. It was dark, Carla alone on the couch. We sat there in the dark, bumming on different levels--I called it "The Happy Room". Again, she was very complimentary & sweet. I gave her cookie & brownie which were a hit (especially the chocolate). Eventually, Vince drifted in. Ellen (Ed Crawford's ex), a very sweet person, her friend Autumn, Ellen's boyfriend Joey, Steve Reed, a pizza...
Bailed out to the Mo' 6 (beating the Watt van). Michael was bumming about the gig, listening to Duke & Louis Armstrong. Another night done...
300 miles + to Atlanta, the MEGAGOTH PAD, The Masquerade. D.D. & friends came to soundcheck. I was happy to see D.D., but hate that I'm so wrapped up in my tour head. It's not like I want--too many details, tasks, trips...
The World Series is on tonight, w/Atlanta playing. Who cares?
Now I'm in a dressing room alone w/DD. She's trying to nap & I'm scrawling, preoccupied, sort of stressed. This is the Fibbers' dressing room, but it's Fibberless. Introduced D.D. to everyone except Daniel, who's nowhere to be found. Hmm... Must muster energy...ate too much dinner...always a mistake.
10/23 -BIRMINGHAM, AL @ ZYDECO
An early arrival in Birmingham. Hung, walked around w/Michael--met up w/Watt, Steve, Vince & the beloved Geraldine Fibbers. Everyone's in a good mood for some reason. We all have the same feeling: THIS part of our respective tours just isn't long enough.
Last night wasn't quite as bad as Watt had feared--even in a Megagoth club w/Heaven, Limbo, Purgatory & Hell sections + a dank & cavernous environment. D.D. & I adjourned to our dressing room, where everyone was actually hanging. Carla was in a splendid mood. D.D. & Gloria really hit it off. Bill was goofy & engaging. When I told him my wife was in attendance, he was concerned about her knowledge of my nail polish. Very cute. We were having a great time. Carla said she'd like to take the night off. Too bad! They had to play more of their splendid music...
The crowd gathered & the sound improved & the Fibbers played a really good set. Included their perky song called "Birthday Boy"--not a personal fave, but it rocked. D.D. sat in back @ a table w/Vince, who was high on Aleve & God knows what drinks..."Lilybelle" made me tear up again..."Get Thee Gone" raised dust, Carla coming in a bar (1/2 a bar?) early out of her "Go! Go!.." screaming & the band making a beautiful save. The crowd was really into it. Watt was all edged out & belidge before our set: "Are we ready??"--"Five seconds??"--"Let's get this fucking over with! This stupid fucking cave!"--etc. But by the time we hit, he was all funny faces & energy. The crowd of maybe 200 was nice & warm. The World Series couldn't have helped, but to hell w/that. I felt good onstage. My sounds all seemed right--wooden stage, no carpet, no cement. But it was a rough drum night. Vince looked kind of scary. Wired? Tired? By the time we encored w/"Piss Bottle" w/Kevin, he looked like he was going to die. I'm worried that his physical/ mental pain is feeding into some kind of self-destruct mode. By the end of the night, he was smoking a cigar, that detached look of ironic bemusement cloaking anger & frustration that I've seen before--scary.
D.D. loved the set, the sound. Steve Reed had a thumbs up assessment. Watt thought it stunk, mostly because of drum flamming. On "The Red & the Black" there was a schism @ the end--Vince flagging, Michael forging ahead (rushing perhaps). Michael's all bent, so maybe he pushed it, but Vince is all warped out of shape. One more week; Vince--just survive. You have to do it yourself. We can't be you.
D.D., Michael & I bailed & went to the Mo' 6--a very uncharacteristically plush Mo' 6. Michael hung w/us until deciding to wait for Steve, Vince, Watt @ room 174. He called to tell us he had just WALKED IN! the door was ajar! Whoops...Watt apparently went out all night. Michael had his own room, Vince & Steve had theirs. D.D. & I had a splendid night. It was almost surreal to be sleeping w/her in Atlanta. We had a great time & eventually slept hard--two tired little kitties.
Took D.D. to the airport @ 11 A.M. (w/Michael in tow). Michael & I drove to Birmingham, picking up an hour in the Central time Zone. Listened to our usual mix: I play Chavez CDs & he plays Ellington. Got into Birmingham early & stopped (@ my behest) at a Toys R Us for some fun stuff. Bought some confetti to throw on the Fibbers 10/30 + a couple of Superballs & some toy rings to begin construction on a tour totem for the rest of the Fibbers' tour.
Bummed around Birmingham, bought Carla a clapping gun: 2 plastic hands that clap when you pull the trigger. She always either says, "THANK you!" or "Thank you for clapping," which i think we all find totally endearing. When i gave it to her, she thought I was teasing her (a gentle tease?)--really it's pure homage/devotion.
Momentary break here. Acousti-punk guitar jam w/Carla. Open tunings--fun. This part of the tour is definitely too short.
Fried food here-----GOOD! ('n fried!)
Actually ate w/Vince & Michael--together--at the same table...hmm.
Watt's hilarious. We were running "Sidemouse Advice" @ soundcheck & on the second one I didn't come in on my solo. Watt's all: "Nels! You've got to jump in! Be cocksure!" Then a round of sailor jokes. At dinner, Watt, above us @ the ledge, hovering like Odin, saying: "No forks, lad! All in one gulp! No chewing! Cocksure!", etc. Patrick & Bill are doing their gay routines, + their "Got to go to the park, man..." junkie/Ratso routine. The Fibbers have to play soon. Is anyone out there? The fibers are driving halfway to New Orleans tonight, so no sitting in. They'll groove on N.O., while we play in Memphis w/Sponge. And we'll miss them...
10/24 Mo' 6 BESSEMER, AL (the one from last tour, west of Birmingham)
Carla & I plunked almost uninterrupted for awhile--until Fibbers showed mild concern/irritation that they hadn't done up a set list for the evening.
Steve sat & listened for awhile--snapped a photo, too. Kevin was funny. After their set, he said, "Nels, I've got a word that describes tonight's set: perfunctory!" They did more country, ending w/"Honky Tonk Angels". The lighting was weird; no one ever turned up the lights, so they were back-lit the whole time. Carla said she couldn't see the frets & she didn't have a round base on her mic stand, so it was awkward to get to her fuzz pedals. anyway, I still liked it. Midway thru, the sound, though unnecessarily loud, got real good. But the drums (esp. the bass drum) are always louder than they need to be.
Watt just blazed thru our set, omitting "Chinese Fire Drill". The audience was sort of New Music Monday size--maybe 100 people. Vince seemed to have moments of fatigue, Michael pushed ahead--perhaps a bit too ahead. Watt was bugged that the drums weren't more together. Good "Intense Song...", I think, Brief encores--"Piss Bottle", "My Secret Garden", Joe McCarthy's Ghost", & Watt's solo spot, "Powerful Hankerin'". Really nice people--Jason, Jeff, a really nice girl whose name I forgot, but who was sort of a long-haired, blonde Holly Hunter (voice & face) + her boyfriend. All were very complimentary & very happy that we didn't skip over Birmingham & just play Memphis/New Orleans/Atlanta, which I guess everyone does.
I adjourned to the bar downstairs for an Irish & some N.O. beer, Abita Fall Fest--good! Had an amazing time. Sat next to someone who turned out to be a pop guitarist/songwriter/drag queen named Mots from a band called Sugarlalala. He's got a tune on the upcoming Belinda Carlisle LP that he thinks is embarrassingly pop the wrong way. He'd lived in West Hollywood & New York & he was a trip.We talked about (among other things) Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith, the local New Music Genies who still live here, basically unappreciated. I sent them messages of admiration thru Mots & thru his musician friend Judy, a leather-clad woman from a band called The Ticks. Very nice woman who blows smoke out of her nose fiercely. Two other notable friends (except for Judy, they were all pretty drunk) were Tom Mitchum, a spirited black man, short w/an infectious smile; & Kim, a very drunk & attractive brunette who grabbed my hand, squeezed it for about a minute, & then started licking my fingers! No wonder Watt loves the South...
Got pretty tipsy, so Michael drove us to the Mo' where I conked.
Talked to D.D. this A.M.--she's fine, had a great flight back. She's doing N.M.M. biz for me. She rules.
Off to Memphis on hick roads. Sponge gig tonight.
Old man Nels is stiff today.
Michael & I keep singing songs from The Makers of Smooth Music comp. that Byron gave me: "Disco Roller", "How Long Are You Staying", "The Moon Is Out", "Convertibles & Headbands"--TOO MUCH SICKNESS!
A beautiful drive thru the sunny, rural woods of Alabama. Total Crackerville: trailer homes, about 1,000 churches (mostly Baptist--like "The Pocahantas Free Will Baptist Church"), & scary restaurants, like "Hog Heaven Bar-Ba-Q" & "Boar's Butt"...
The ride to Memphis was total traffic/truck hell. Venue change: We're @ the Six One Six. Watt's late--traffic/venue change. Crew are bumming on this. This place is hellish. Black & chrome, black chain link everywhere. Sponge must be huge--big rack-mounted Marshall's, guys w/laminates milling about, $20 t-shirts--they look like dorks on their poster...
THE POSTER CHILDREN ARE ON THE BILL!
They went to visit Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo. Saw the poor little house his daddy built.
Watt says this is a "cornball gig" & I think he's right. Sponge: Who are they? They've got lights, a "pro" kind of stage thing. Fog machine? It's the last gig on their tour, so everything's a might tweaked.
The Poster Children, the beloved band from Champagne (beloved by the locals @ the Blind Pig), seem really nice.
This bug I had slightly lingers. Morning gunk, not helped by gulping down second-hand smoke nightly while hopping like a doof. Plus, tonight's the 28th gig in a row. 400 miles to New Orleans tomorrow. ..Think we'll definitely bail pre-Sponge ("Rhymes with grunge."--Watt), get an early start & get into Tipitina's early. What a gas. I hope we can hang a bit--plus El Fibbers will be ensconced somewhere (Steve has Gloria's beeper #), so maybe fun (?). Probably not.
Memphis: what a blight. An "atmospheric" music street, Beal St., all glitzy & "Southern" & all around it the destroyed building, broken glass, downscale neighborhoods with poor African-Americans just hanging. Some great old signs & buildings, but the overall feeling is bleak. Elvis, Elvis, Elvis, Elvis-- not gonna see your megapad on this trip.
10/25 NEW ORLEANS, LA TIPITINA'S
Last night--maybe better left to the past. Poster Children: nice band, energetic, kind of unimaginative. Rose kicks on bass. very sweet person, too. But there was hardly anyone there. Then us. No response (virtually). A 13-year-old kid in a Kurt shirt saying, "Hey, that guitar looks like Kurt's...Do you have a pick?" Watt came out & tried to educate: "This ain't no buzz clip." and "Try putting that in your alternative tour bus." then "Punk rock was about bein' an outsider, not belonging to a club..."
We tried to kick it, but, well, Vince has been flagging. "70s"--whoa. Tired. Spilled my water all over, under my pedals...shit. Loaded out fast.
Sponge: 70s? 80s? Skinny guys w/vinyl pants & tattoos..nice fellows (from Detroit, Watt says) w/no imagination. Their music: frighteningly generic blandoid. As I chatted w/them 3/5 of them were stretching, running in place.
Went to Mo' 6--lost the van (Michael, tweaked, made me turn around, got lost, made it to the Mo' late, etc.). Memphis: saw Sun studios from outside. Food @ local bar. A beautiful Irish redhead named Jo made our food. Bartender/waiter psychoanalyzed Watt--didn't hear it myself. Called Mike Hogan in Eugene. Passed out watching semi-hilarious trash on HBO w/Nick Cassavetes as an android, murderous substitute teacher: "The Substitute II" or something.
Drove w/Michael to N.O. today. Beautiful!!! We're in New Orleans! Swamps! Tourists! Drove thru the French Quarter. Now we're @ Tipitina's, drinking Abita. Called D.D. Called Waller. Watt's friend Holly is in town. Gonna be an odd night. Working on staying over for tomorrow. A Professor Longhair tribute @ 8 included the brilliant drummer, Johnny Vidakovich! Talked to him (he played w/Scofield, B. Wallace, Ray Anderson), as did Michael, who discovered that it was indeed HIM. A cool guy, a great player. The beloved Fibbers are soundchecking. Hoping to hang w/them tomorrow. My mind's in a spin. Sitting on a couch w/Michael & an Italian bass-player fellow named Francesco. Eating red beans & rice. Questionable ingredients, delicious--like New Orleans itself.
Waller told me the Fibbers are on the cover of the L.A. Reader. Save me one! I care too much. I'm doomed. I will surely cry in Santa Fe.
10/26 NATCHITOCHES, LA Super 8
It's actually a night off. In spite of what Watt said on stage last night, I think that we played 31 gigs in a row (he said 29).
New Orleans--amazing, amazing, amazing.
The Fibbers set: I went to give Carla her sunglasses from Birmingham dressing room (Zydeco--Michael had snagged 'em) wearing them. "Keep them on. They look good on you." So I listened to them in shades. Watt" "Can you see in those dark glasses, Nels? What's up with that?" Told him they were Carla's. He knows I'm a tweaker.
Holly, Watt, Vince (I heard later, also in shades -- picked up on a ceremonial vibe), & I listened to an excellent set w/pretty wretched sound. Gloria couldn't do one of her soundchecks. It sounded floored, like paste. Compressed, smashed, viscous, muddy, too much drums (bass drum esp.), but a beautiful set. Good list. Carla (having had a day off must've helped) kicked ass vocally, ok? Their songs sound great in New Orleans.
Carla's hugging me -- serious hugs!! My tenderness toward her may be a bad thing... I'm an idiot. She's so ... her... special. Nuts -- like my wife... intense, mercurial. But, perhaps as obsessive as me in different ways; which is scary... We set up and the monitor guy (Brian, who was from Orange County and loved Vince's old band, El Grupo Sexo) bailed! Then Gloria took up the board tape and took al of our tape, too. Channel assignments a mystery -- but we started after Watt, at first chafing, acknowledged that it was just fucked up, so we waited.
It was pretty good. I felt okay, no major problems other than the now-familiar rear-pickup-loses-its-oomph-in-hot-wet clubs syndrome. Carla sang, Jesse played, Kevin sang "Piss-Bottle" encore. Daniel sat in on rhythm guitar on "E-Ticket". Later discovered that I split one of my now-massive callouses - ouch! Hurts today.
Anyway, people grooved. I think we sounded strong. Carla thought I kicked butt ... incredible hug...
Met a radio guy and his guitar-playing friend, Valerie, who knew about the Trio. Must send them stuff...
Watt was funny last night: "Fuck the House of Blues!" (on stage). To me: "Better play good tonight Nels, Willie Dixon, Roy Buchanan, all the kings, Albert Collins... they all played on that stage".
Afterwards, the Fibbers (or most of them) were going to a friend's pad a few blocks away. I wanted to go. There was a dilemma about what to do -- Holly and her friend from Lafayette, Roger were there. Mo.6 reservations in St. ?, so of course, we drove 30 miles outside of town to the Mo. Had offers to stay on the floor at the Fibber's motel (Quality Inn on St. Charles). But, no, I started to get bummed out, but realized I was too tired anyway...
Hallelujah -- we went into New Orleans today for food and to hang. Tried to follow Watt in -- almost always impossible, but had overheard him repeating directions on pay phone (to Holy). Miraculously found everyone @ Holly's friend Scott's beautiful house on Mecumba (?). Went for N.O. lunch supreme @ famous Mother's. Intense lunch rush, lines, but Daniel (who was going to try to meet us -- he told us about Mother's) said to be patient. It was amazing (& expensive). Had seafood gumbo, pecan pie (me, Mr. No-Dessert) + killer coffee. Sat w/Michael, Holly & Watt. Watt & Holly are so sweet together. Watt was so relaxed. We strolled the French Quarter. Lost Roger. Vince was in bliss -- his favorite cuisine & ambience. A wonderful afternoon.
Five hour drive to Natchitoches, Louisiana's "oldest town" -- but it seems like a desolate burg. At Super 8 just had fish sand from the cotton patch + beer & cognac from the scary bar/liquor mart w/pool tables & young folks on the make. Nail polish not a big hit, I venture...
Fired off 10 New Orleans postcards -- my last salvo.
My finger needs this day off -- I hope I can play tomorrow w/o too much pain. Pray for the ultimate pain reliever: adrenaline.
New Orleans -- I've been blessed -- what an experience! and a couple of weeks ago, I was driving my car through the streets of NYC!
My car, now that I mention it, is feeling the burn. Needs a tune up, new seals, + now a new windshield -- mine now has a growing crack in it, crawling across, from left to right. Chug, chug home, fix it, resume life.
As I went back to Mother's today to feed the meters, the Fibbers pulled up to eat. They were going to eat & drive -- no hang. Carla was all sleepy, beleaguered, sweet. They were focusing on the crowd, the food, their day ... they are so sweet.
Carla reiterated her conviction that last night was good (my playing) and wanted to know if I thought so. She's now seen my indulgent moods post-gig. But it's funny, I didn't think I was consistent ... well, I obviously will never know.
So much more...
A funny episode at the gas station today. Michael & I had been following the Watt van (Steve driving really slowly). As we gassed up, Watt emerged from the bench and dumped the piss-bottle right in the middle of the pump islands! A sure sign of a happy & relaxed Watt...
Apparently he's asked everyone what they think of Holly -- except me (the married guy?). Watt: she's sweet, smart, attractive. She makes you glow. Take it from there....
Talked to D.D. She's so great. She's doing all this work for me: New Music Monday, etc. She & Knansie are going to do the mailing together Sat.!!!! I can't take my life. I miss them both. It's a great thing to feel this love, and (it's corny, corny ...) it hurts.
Vince is starting to look like a man adrift. He worries me. Watt yells at him for practicing saxophone constantly, for being slow (the Vincetonian effect) ... Michael has just cut him off. He seems almost not all there at times. This day off may be a great thing. I just try to make his isolation seem less acute, but there's too much going on here for me to handle. His poetic soul/self absorption (we're all self-absorbed out here, ok) is manifesting in a weird way. I'm not like Vince. One more week, bro... What we share can make us strong. Don't drown...
I'm not a punk. Everyone: I'm not punk. I may be odd. I may not fit in. But my sense of empathy -- my obsessive love -- it excludes me from a rebel stance. My alto see a bunch of old Watt fans who were hanging for 2 hours get rousted by bike cops. Up against the wall, the whole deal. Never did find out what happene
10/27 DALLAS, Trees
Cruised in w/Michael, another near-perfect landing. Went right to a Mexican food place that was AOK. Deep Ellum is all chi-chi, or getting there. Ran into Bill & Carla, hung out in a record store (w/Watt there too) wasting time. Waiting. Neat club -- funky & friendly. Time to change strings... Carla's sleepy -- I want to jam later... Vince is in implosion mode, Michael's getting dark ... Bill says they had fun here last gig. It's Friday eve ... could be a madhouse!
The little record store down the street has a Sonic Youth window display, complete w/a real washing machine. Warms the old heart, it does...
Humorous aside! Apparently in New Orleans @ Tipitina's there was some jive turkey from I.C.M. bullshitting w/Michael & Steve about coming out to check out their bands, their magnificent roster. After a bit he included "Robert Page & Jimmy Plant" in the list. Michael kept Steve in silent agony by periodically saying, "Robert Page..." Then the Bozo proceeded to give away all our beers in a magnanimous gesture of pure schmooze, promoting Michael, Steve, Kevin & Daniel to combine all our beers in one ice chest. Then Michael & I carried it on o the stage to protect our stash. When I went to get Watt a beer, I couldn't -- the Fibbers were on stage, and so was the beer. The I.C.M. guy left before the Fibbers played.
10/28 Austin, TX - Stephanie Zirkle's (& invisible Cade's) Apt.
A lot has happened, ok? I'm in Stephanie's apt w/Michael. who's doing his laundry. Stephanie's trying to stay asleep. Today's a driving day...
Boy, was I wrong about the pad in Dallas (The Trees). It was a drag.
First -- we (minus Watt, who wanted to stay in the van as guard) went to dinner at our Host's house -- the home of John & Sandy-- Chicken and dumplings. Sandy's really sweet -- their kids stayed away from us, youngest boy watching a video of "Pumpkinhead". Back from the suburbs to "The Trees". Total confusion in Deep Ellum - a zone striving to be Melrose Ave., or something. Ran into Carla & Kevin in their van outside. Steve & Vince went back and forth trying to figure out 2 things: was the ticket price advertised as 18 dollars (!!!), for real (turned out to be $8, but the advert must've hurt)? and, since a 3rd band (called Blue Mountain) had been added, was their starting time 9:45 or 10:30 -- if it had been 10:30 Watt would've gone on at 2 a.m. and there'd be hell to pay. Started at 9:45. Never heard Blue Mountain -- went for tea across the parking lot next door w/Kevin & Carla. It was nice, even though I was all weirded out. We talked about different band members' driving habits. Back to the club just in time. Sort of a thin crowd. The Fibbers set was good, but they didn't convert some stupidass hicks who yelled "Mike Watt!" & "Play some (sp). Before "Lilybelle", Carla told one guy to just shut the fuck up. Vince kindly went over and told him that we (Mike Watt) has asked them to be on tour with us & to please shown some respect. Their sound was loud, the set raced a bit weird, but, of course, I loved it.
They thought it was lackluster. We took the stage and I proceeded to have perhaps my worst night of the tour. Had a short in my pedals at the Ratt (fuzzbox). That, of course, wasn't present at soundcheck. Plus the selector switch on the Jazzmaster has had it. I've since just gaff taped it so I won't be tempted to use it. It's shorting out, too.
Every time (it seemed) I had a significant moment the stuff was crapping out. I was nutted out even more because I knew that John was taping it. Plus, this fan named Jeff was videotaping! I just couldn't get my dervish thing. On "Intense Song" everything worked but I sucked.
Watt was drawing out the quieter part of the solo forever and I didn't play one cogent idea. It was all ideas dying instantly at birth. Carla sang, Jesse played, Daniel comped on "E-Ticket". Watt was shrouded in darkness thru almost the whole damn set -- they (somebody) finally turned the lights up on like the last song before the encores. So that didn't help much either. Encored w/"Piss Bottle" (Kevin missed his moment), "My Secret Garden" (w/missed cues and a major effort on my part to not just leave the building ... not in a good mood).
Surprises were that Watt called "Sidemouse Advice" -- which as damn good with no run through! Plus, we did "Maggot Brain", my chance to redeem myself, and it didn't suck. Also did "Joe McCarthy's Ghost" & Watt's solo on "Powerful Hankerin'". I was totally bumming out.
Upstairs in the dressing room (a loft/perch-esque little dump at the front of the stenchy club) Carla & I sat and I whined (I think). Then she bailed and Michael, Vince & Steve entered. As my mood darkened (Michael was chiding me, too, which was good... "he's a romantic"). I started to get giddy, throwing my beer bottle and beginning to shout at the top of my lungs things like "Dallas sucks! Fuck Dallas! You killed JFK" etc., at the people below. Everyone was laughing, Steve finally yelling outside, so everyone could hear, "Cracker!". It was priceless. You had to be there I guess... but I felt a bit better.
Bailed out to John's (Steve saying out the window, "Nels Cline loses it...").
Watt dragged two guys along (Todd & Eric -- it was Eric's 26th birthday). They were drunk - especially Todd. Who were these guys? Anyway, instead of the expected harangues from Watt, his mood become celebratory (albeit feisty) as he sort of partied till 5 a.m., listening to John's Steely Dan Live boot (I never knew until this moment how much Watt, D., & George were into "The Dan"!), Gentle Giant, Vince & Steve's salvo), & finally Beefheart's Doc @ The Radar Station. Timing is everything - it blew me up. It was beautiful.
Crashed on a couch. Michael was sort of half awake during the proceedings. The fans/now guests passed out in Michael's room. Poor Michael. Poor John -- he was unfazed though. Todd ended up sleeping right in Michael's face, eventually taking over his sleeping bag. An episode now known as "Face to Face". Michael (pissed as hell, I'm sure) had to go to the other room on the floor, where Watt was also on the floor, eschewing the bed as usual. I think Michael got about 1 1/2 hours of sleep.... I got 4... ended up feeling great. Going to Austin! Seeing Stephanie! Getting out of Dallas! Everyone got up. (Todd, embarrassed as hell -- a hilarious guy, who has his own "speak", says no sheesh" constantly among other more odd sayings...). Watt was already up & out in the 'burb. Michael & I bailed, drive like hell to Austin...
Got in around 2:30. Went to Stephanie's delightful magic apartment, filled with her kitschy & magical objects, clothes, etc. She's so wonderful. So young & kind -- and sweet. Has a new haircut. (Looks great). She drove us proudly around town on errands. Went to a 99 Cent store -- Michael for Halloween "Mr. Fusion" accessories, me for items for the tour totem. I'm making for the Fibbers, Stephanie for... well, she just buys stuff. Hit a music store (new cable to solve my shorting problem), amazing expensive thrift store. Watching Stephanie shop is a real pleasure. She hones in, looks great in the oddest stuff...
Zipped back, got my car, made it to Liberty Lunch before Watt. Spot arrived! sitting in, maybe going all the way to Tempe w/us! Lo, Blue Mountain are on the bill again ... the place is nice, big. Had some shiner bock in honor of Stephanie (she loves it -- the local pride). Ran some stuff & soundcheck w/Spot -- now I'm singing "Heartbeat" -- sheesh! Fibbers arrived. Called Stephanie. She picked Michael & me up & we went to "El Patio" -- her fave Mexican spot. Pretty good...
Back to her place to meet up w/her friend (ex-boyfriend & Watt fan), Jake.
Ended up w/Cooper & an appearance by Liz, too. Michael fell asleep for a bit. I looked at Stephanie's photo portfolio... good stuff. Color portraits, B&W statuary, tree limbs ... good. She has a style.
Back to Liberty Lunch. More later. Gotta call Watt, D.D., Drive.
Stephanie drive like a crazed New Yorker, tearing up the streets in her red Honda, that's filled with more little objects, a pierced/mangled Barbie head on a sparkplug (AC) dangling from her rearview mirror. ("I made that!" -- duh!). She loves Austin but wants to move to New York now that she's been there on our tour. She's only 22. I pray that she's allowed to do what her feelings/passions/flights of fancy dictate.
So after hanging out at Stephanie's with Jake, Cooper, & Liz, doing my nails (Stephanie did her toes, day-glo green - her toe color of choice and which I consequently sport -- (see Providence) w/Blue Sparkle on top). Got Michael a coffee, went to the club. Missed Blue Mountain again.
The Fibbers: Carla was turbulent, vexed in same way, breaking strings, in short she tore my guts up. The sound was loud, but great -- Gloria, yes. A good set list. It's hard to describe what it felt like. Carla is mesmerizing. "Lilybelle" still destroys me. The grandeur of the music was in full evidence. Stephanie listened to the second half of the set with me, me hiding my misty eyes on "Lilybelle". She loved "Get Thee Gone" -- "Where she screams". Carla seemed dark & murky later. I feebly told her my assessment. She was grateful & sweet, looking like she was going to cry. I love her. Her smeared lipstick around her umpteenth cigarette. (More later)
I'm in Santa Fe - remiss in my duties as recordist/chronicler. Carla's going to write something in my book -- + some other Fibbers, as well, I hope. This is a night I was dreading -- The Geraldine Fibbers last night with us. I left Austin (Stephanie's) feeling like a pathetic clown, ready for the end of The Shinebox tour. My finger torn, my spirits sagging. Now I have a horrendous fever, flu?, body aches ... fuck. Watt's all happy & sentimental -- group photos, a warm one with me & Watt hugging, the whole 2 bands + Gloria, Patrick, Steve, & Spot. This is rough for a sap. I made the tour totem out of a 99 Cent little girl's purse, a gold heart necklace with arrow thru it, guitar strings w/toy rings dangling on them -- one for each member of the band & crew + note inside signed by us: "Because you rule" on one side & "love from Mike Watt & the crew of the Flying Saucer". It'll probably fall apart -- I did it in my car in the dark w/the flashlight stuck in my chin, between my legs ... plus, I'm not a handy fellow, needless to say.
Onward into the night. More sequential reportage later.
NELS. I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT I FEEL LIKE I HAVE MISSED THE BOAT IN SOME WAY. I KNEW I'D HAVE A CHANCE TO TELL YOU SO MUCH STUFF AND LEARN ABOUT YOU, BUT THE HOURS SNUCK AWAY. TODAY I FEEL LIKE A BEDRAGGLED COWARD, PARANOID, AFRAID TO FACE AN APATHETIC AUDIENCE. I AM OVULATING, CONFUSED. SOMETIMES WHEN I SEE YOU I THINK WE SHOULD JUST CURL UP AND GO TO SLEEP, BECAUSE I KNOW WE'RE THE SAME IN MANY WAYS AND BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS SLEEPY. "LILYBELLE" IS ABOUT MY PECULIAR PAIN. THE BOTTOM LINE THAT IN THE PAST WHEN I HAD A LESS STURDY SHELL, ALMOST TOOK ME OUT. IT WAS INSPIRED BY WATCHING THAT DOG PLAY AND COMING IN TOUCH WITH A FILTHY USED UP SENSE OF MYSELF. STANDING MYSELF NEXT TO THOSE GIRLS. THERE ARE SONGBIRDS AND SWEET THINGS... WHERE ANGELS BARE WINGS... AND IT'S ABOUT WHEN I GET SO FUCKED OVER INSIDE THAT IT IS TRULY DIRE (OFTEN AROUND 3 A.M.).
THANKS VERY MUCH FOR LETTING ME KNOW YOU LIKE WHAT I DO. IT MADE ME FEEL LESS SCARED MORE THAN ONCE. I KNOW I'LL SEE YOU SOON. IF YOU EVER WANTED TO PLEASE ME, AND I KNOW THAT PLEASING WOMEN IS SOMETHING YOU LOVE, THEN PLEASE DON'T BE SO CRITICAL OF A PERSON I ADORE. N. CLINE
So damn much has been happening -- now we're in Tempe, a 500 + mile hellride. Michael drive the whole trip so I could sleep off my malady -- and I do feel better. Too bad about my finger (it's trashed, hurts like hell). It's Halloween and I'm not up for it. Tomorrow we go home.
Last report was back in Austin, after the Fibber's set. Our set was fine. Nice audience. Spot sat in on "The Red & the Black", "Pedro", "Intense Song" -- a bit loud, but then Watt was all over him "less is more!" Spot + Jesse, dueling strings on the coda of "Tuff Gnarl!" Wild! Carla sang her songs. Encored w/the usuals + "Sidemouse Advice" (which always get a really big response) & "Heartbeat", which I screw up on the vocal -- came in late on the lines.
Aside: At soundcheck, Carla, having witnessed the last minute decision to have me sing this, said, "Of everyone here, Nels is the only one feminine enough to do it". The monitor guy, standing nearby doing monitor guy stuff said, "I guess you could take that as a compliment..". I did!
Anyway, the set spun along without incident. (see later report). We adjourned to a Niteclub, the name of which escapes me. Bill (from the Fibbers) & me in Stephanie's car -- Stephanie at the wheel, driving in her intense style. Michael +Jesse in my car followed. Ran into Watt, Steve, Vince, guys from Peglegasus, and much later, Daniel & Patrick. Bill knew the owner of the joint and had a happy reunion when he saw him. The place was in crowded, noisy, Saturday night mode. A few costumes. "Marquee Moon" came on the jukebox -- that was nice. Stephanie got all tired. We sat in a corner, later joined by Bill, who is just a ruling human. Michael & Jesse walked away for coffee (not their scene).
Stephanie & I bailed (Bill could now get a ride w/Daniel & Patrick) and I crashed on my little futon palettes. Michael came in a little later. Never did meet Stephanie's roommate Cade -- he had some gig/party (drummer) and never came home.
Woke up in a funk. Deep, dark, depresso funk. Ready to go home. Ready for the tour to end. It also dawned on me that Santa Fe would be the last Fibbers gig, which kind of spun me into a downspin. Michael said he'd never seen me in such a prolonged state of blackness. I wasn't ready to drive, play, or ... see Carla & co. go.
Met Watt van at Mo.6. Did an amazing 16 mile blowby on the way to pick up Spot (bad directions), but we eventually got him, stuck him in my car, Michael at the wheel, and it's off to Tucumcari, N.M., a near-600 mile hellride. Poor Spot, 3 gigs with us and 2 major hellrides.
Tucumcari -- a depressing burg. Dinner @ 11 p.m. at Denny's, the only game in town. I was beat, and I know now, on my way to a reprise of my bug from the first week of the tour.
Woke up totally sick -- chills, sweats, aches ... Michael drove to Santa Fe with me passed out in back. Came to in Santa Fe to blinding sun, clear skies -- a bit much. It was afternoon.
Blew into Jiffy Lube for ritual 3,000 mile oil change, then to good Mexican food place, which made me feel better temporarily. The waitress was sweet & kind of wacky, even pulling a little fast one to get Spot seconds on his Chile stew. Picked up some parting trinkets for the Fibbers across the Highway -- wild place, marvelous woman proprietor, very funny & slightly eccentric. Bought some cards, hearts, etc. Still was on a mission to make the tour totem for the Fibber's van.
We went to the Club Alegria -- weird place, but actually nice. It's a drive-thru liquor store & niteclub in one! As our waitress at lunch said "It's where all the barracho rancheros go". I sat in my car till sundown (no more daylight savings -- we gained an hour in Austin) tinkering. It was actually tough 'cause I was feverish, holding my damn flashlight, hands shaking, blah, blah. But I did it.
Hard surfaces in the club. Nice people. You had to go behind the bar, thru an office to get to the "dressing room". I was all aches, hot one minute, cold the next.
But it was a great night. The feeling between these bands is so good. We were all psyched & sad. But I got Carla to write in my book. Gave her a shitty poem in a little kid's coin purse (told her to read it later). Hung w/all the band members except Jesse, who I never really hung with (she kind of latched on to Michael, anyway). Bill just rules, and Patrick, wild and wacky tech, roadie, bon vivant. Carla was all groggy, "ovulating .. it hurts". Good hugs. Their set was really good. Gloria had to fly back to L.A. so she did their soundcheck & then (nervously) handing the task to Stephen Reed. Needless to say, their sound was maybe the best it ever was, because Carla's voice was totally there, the drums (esp. bass drum) weren't overpowering the mix and the band played great. Plus, the audience was really into them, and a lot of people knew the songs. When Carla wrote back there that she was afraid of facing another apathetic audience -- it never happened. They were into it. The band almost got an encore. Before "Lilybelle" (no, I didn't weep!) Carla said they were all sad to leave our tour and that Mike Watt & the crew are "...just so fucking great." Yay.
I think Watt was a bit lit for our set, bellowing, grinning, drinking & spilling tecates. I was worried about my finger. Hurt like hell at soundcheck. But adrenalin is a great thing. I thrashed. No pain, no fatigue. A pretty good set, a full house. Watt was impassioned at times. He was so into it, wailing. Carla sang her songs, Spot played, Jesse did "Tuff Gnarl" w/Spot, some encores. At the end of "My Secret Garden" Watt hit the last note by popping the ... w/his teeth. Jeez! "Sidemouse" got another great reaction, and the Santa Fe crowd just loves Carla. Maybe the Southwest is their domain.
The club folks were really into it. Drank a couple of cognacs (Michael was buying drinks -- in fact, Michael was so sweet & solicitous towards me, making sure I would feel better). Hung w/Sunny, guitarist w/Beck who I'd met in L.A. once -- very nice guy. Living in Santa Fe. Presented The Geraldine Fibbers w/their totem + a card from me. They had to drive 160 miles to beautiful Tucumcari minus Carla, who was flying to NYC. Kissed & hugged goodbye, and I did NOT cry.
So today we're in Tempe and we've just discovered that Watt's van broke down. Ironic in light of the fact that MY car almost didn't start this morning -- dire tuneup needed, possible major timing/distributor problem. This is fucked. He's not here. We got here as fast as we could and we were still past our 4 o'clock time on the itinerary (traffic, miles, no poop on hills around Flagstaff, + bad directions from a gas station guy). Michael doing a Herculean drive shift. Van breakdown ... I'm going to need a miracle to get up for this Halloween.
Last night Kevin said that during their set, "I was thinking about you guys the whole time, I swear!" Carla said, "You inspired me. I had a good night!
Watt & co. arrived by 7 -- fuel regulator needed replacing, and guys who did it were fast. Everyone ok. The pad was weird -- upstairs section, high stage. You're either looking up at the band or down onto them. We sat up in our dressing room trying to get our costume thing together. I shaved, brushed my Elvira-esque wig, put on my white pancake make-up. Holly showed up! I borrowed her eyeliner & drew a stitched scar on my left cheek. Put on my weird goggle-like sunglasses, tiny "as seen on TV" T and my ripped too-big jeans. I was Goth Boy -- actually looked alarmingly like Joey Ramone. Michael did a strategic shave of his unruly facial hair, slicked his hair, put on a "World Beat" T, shades, towel, wristbands - voila! " Mr. Fusion!". Actually he looked more like a cop. The facial hair is still killing me -- w/sideburns no less. In fact, Michael decided he looks sort of like Les Claypool now. I saw a bit of Lee Van Cleef, the western psycho cop. Watt, Steve & Vince had gone mask shopping (in Santa Fe, I think). Watt had a fantastic monster mask w/protruding jaws & teeth. Probably from some movie I've never seen. Steve had a sort of devil/monster 3/4 size mask (strapped on) that was eerily effective -- it creeped Holly out! Vince was choosing between Crash Test Dummy & a sort of Neanderthal skull man thing -- went Neanderthal -- even had big bones on his drum set. The funniest thing was watching Spot try on the masks. The Crash Test Dummy mask w/his glasses and cap and Spot went right into character, adjusting his clothes & posture in many hilarious ways. The guy's really funny. Voices body moves. A complicated man, too. What will Spot do?...
A kid had walked up to Watt in a Butthead mask & given him a Beavis Mask. Spot nabbed it, added his glasses and cap, and it was too much. He went with it.
All we had to do was wait thru 2 Pearl Jam clone bands (no kidding) and we could go on. I got Steve to set up the throwing of some confetti I'd bought in -- wherever, Birmingham. Slight tension since we'd had no soundcheck. With his mask on Watt couldn't really hear, but it was hilarious to see him wailing, looking like a gargoyle in flannel. What this must have looked like from the audience perspective I can only guess.
(Leaving for home now. More later...).
Michael says I must include & highlight this statement, a sentence said perhaps more than once by me & which he throws back at me often, especially when a certain look crosses my face:
"MY LIFE ... IT'S SO GREAT. I'M SO FUCKED"
Back to Tempe: It got to the point where I had so much fake black hair in my face I couldn't see. It was sticking to everything -- hands, face, guitar, covering my eyes to the point where I screwed up my ending melody (up high) on "Intense Song...", so I ripped the wig off, put the sunglasses back on and continued. Everyone else stayed in costume. Watt finally removed his mask for our single encore, "Piss Bottle Man", with me all out of tune. My sunglasses had flown off during "Tuff Gnarl" and vanished -- grabbed by some kids? -- enforcing the sunglasses-bought-on-the-road-always-break-or-end-up-donated principle. I was glad Watt cut it short. Although I had created numerous new fingerings for the set, my finger hurt quite a bit. The "New Skin" stuff Watt loaned me helped, but still, it was ripped.
Back up to the dressing room for a beer (no beer allowed on stage in Ariz.) and Watt & Holly were hanging w/Cris Kirkwood & his boss wife, Michelle, who was resplendent in a yellow vinyl bell-bottomed cowboy/girl suit (Thrift store -- $3 - another Stephanie!) & cowboy boots ($1.50). Watt was sitting in the middle of the room. Previously he had crunched into the corner because there's a huge mirror in this room @ Gibson's and Watt couldn't deal with it at all (understandable). Anyway, we loaded out -- my gear into my car because my trio has a gig the day after I get home @ Spaceland w/Blonde Redhead & M. Whitmore. Quite a feat, but we did it. No room for Spot (who had become moody & withdrawn by this time), so he squeezed into the Watt van w/Steve, Vince & Holly for a quick trip chez Kirkwood.
Cris is a trip. I love going to Cris & Michelle's 'cause they have so much cool & crazy crap all around -- Mad mag books, Brady Bunch dolls, Batman board games, trashy paperback everywhere, masks. You name it. Cris & Watt reminisced. Lots of wild stories -- Black Flag tours, the Feederz, some dishing etc. I was beat & just lay down with a beer.
Watt & Holly left -- Holly to her motel near the airport. I guess she got Watt a room too, but he was unaware of this (more about this as our story progress). So I got the bed, Steve the couch, the rest the floor.
Till Watt burst in about 7:30 am bellowing "whose idea was it to get me a room at this motel? Holly and I are FRIENDS!! Fuck!...." Well, we were awake. So they booked, Watt taking Spot to the airport, then on home. Michael & I got an early start on the day. My now beleaguered car got us to L.A. by 2 p.m. It was a really pleasant drive, cloudy, bits of rain, sun. Michael couldn't believe he was going to L.A. His whole being was saying "Get out the Rand McNally. Where's the next gig? What street's the venue on?... I believed it.
Dropped Michael at his place. Had a brief puff and headed back to the Westside (leave me alone...) At the corner of Virgil & Melrose I saw a blind Asian girl in a floral print dress, white bow in her long hair, crossing the intersection. She was beautiful and this sight sent me into a whirl. L.A. My beauty trip. Am I a dork for feeling and acting the way I do? Why do I spill so much? My wife -- no-one could love me so much. And I'm already on automatic pilot, guiding myself through these streets I've seen all my life. There's no way I can return feeling like an alien to the realm. I just am HERE. I know this place too well. It's a part of me whether I like it or not.
I was moved to happiness coming up to our porch. The little Halloween do-dads. Inside the little stuffed animal welcoming committee. Then D.D. came home. A great evening -- dinner at Nizam, a major run to the mag. stand for fashion lines, love, sex, exhaustion.
I kept waking up not knowing where I was. Sure I wasn't home. Wondering where I was supposed to be. I dreamt that I was driving my car and the brakes barely grabbed. "Now, I need a brake job too?!" Dreamt I was in a dark hallway with many dark rooms. Ran into Bill from the Fibbers. "Have you seen Carla?" "Not yet...". I'm a mess. As I have been for 3 weeks now, I wake up with Fibbers songs in my head. It's always okay.
Took my car in this a.m. Dreading the report. Bucks. I know Watt will take care of it. It's just the idea. Have the gig w/Blonde Redhead tonight. Amadeo called. They're in town for a week, so splendid hang time is possible. I'm doing laundry. D.D.'s at work. The New Music Monday series is all messed up. Low attendance, intrigue, my scattered & denial-filled departure + artist egos leaving the vibe in shreds. Now I'm filled with a certain dread + low-level anxiety. Time to take a deep breath & kick some New Music ass! (and pray).
Projects to complete: (Duo w/Thurston, "Pillowwand" (Duo w/Woody Aplanalp
Record or finish (Duo w/Bonnie "The Thorn" Barnett recording (New Trio Album (Solo guitar for Byron's Vinyl-only Ltd. Series Mastering & artwork for "Chest", long lost Trio alb. (N.M.M.) Make apologies, smooth ruffled feathers. Heal my finger, put my gear together buy a tape deck that works get my suite for Julius H. finished...
Gig in 9 days @ Wiltern, Watt opens for S.Y. + The Amps.
M.V.P. Shinebox Tour ' 95: STEPHEN REED
Tip your head back, grab a mic, and scream - WELL, ALRIGHT!!
STEVE IS THE BEST.
Addendum to Austin gig: Now I remember this night better. It was NOT fine. Vince could not keep up. Angst & painkillers + alcohol = no energy. He lost it many times. On "The Red & the Black" we had to start over 'cause the drums split & got off & never got together. The time vanished on "One Reporter's Opinion". Forget "Piss Bottle Man". It was, from my standpoint, Vince's lowest ebb. Backstage, while the audience cheered for encores, Watt was yelling, "What happened?! Couldn't you hear?! It was slammin'! What's up?!"
I thought Vince might actually cop to a bad night. Just say, "Boss, I couldn't master it tonight." Maybe because his hearing is so shredded he didn't really know. But surely, he wasn't going to give Michael a feather for his cap. I had to leave the room, stare bleakly back at the cheering crowd. After a momentary flash of anger, I just felt sad. This was a really hard tour, especially for Vince's psyche, not just for his body. Then it was on to that club ... just being accurate.
AFTER THIS EXPERIENCE, ANY DRIVE UNDER 250 MILES IS A SHORT DISTANCE!
Mike Watt was going home to a ransacked apartment. Virtually nothing stolen (or so we heard). What a homecoming. What's up with this? Will we ever know? The man plays so hard every night that every morning his hands are swollen (of course he doesn't ice them down...) A common sight following him in his van is that of his hand out the window, flexing slowly in the wind. He sweats all the details of each tour, even selling shirts at the end of the show from the stage (and as such, getting around paying the venue's percentage on merch, I'm sure). He's Mike Watt. He gives 100%. He's a living dichotomy, like all idealists, taciturn cynics, non-joiner populists, icon-hating icons. "Hey, start your own band! Don't follow leaders!". He says it every night. Emotion. Abuse. Love.
You go out on the road with Mike Watt, you come home hurtin'.
EVENTS ON TOUR UNMENTIONED:
Don Cherry dies (heard about it in Atlanta). R.I.P. -- We all love you.
Guy from Blind Lemon dies (drug freeze up?) -- must've read all the horrible reviews their new alb got ... horrible band. Sorry dude...
The "Million Man March" in Washington D.C., two days after we were there. Major consciousness raising for Americans and blacks (men, esp.) or big P.R. orgy for Farrakhan. Carla said that he said great stuff, that she cried, that "it was a great day for the black man". Steve grinned and laughed as she recounted this. Hmm..
Anything I've forgotten, I'm sorry. Too bad.
last tour spiel
loop back to mike watt's hoot page
this page created 25 may 00