"our oars became wings" tour 2002 diary - week 6

mike watt + the jom & terry show

shot of watt in 2002
shot of jer + tom in 2002

watt - thud staff, spiel (w/skirmish - top)
jerry trebotic - drums (bottom left)
tom watson - guitar, singing (bottom right)

steve kaul - the man outside the van

our special guests:
grandpa's ghost
shot of grandpa's ghost in 2002

bill - guitar, keyboards
ben - guitar, singing

(left to right)

monday, may 20, 2002 - cleveland heights, oh

from tom:

   it was a chilly morning and we leave michigan to go to the grog shop in cleveland ohio, it's a drive and the land starts to change as we move across the top edge of the state. when we find our parking spot in front of the club we get out and walk to stay warm till it's open and jerry and I find food, then the usual wait to load. I think maybe I wont go into the load in/out, soundcheck explainations anymore. john from cobra verde brings me an amp to try which is very nice of him but after checking it out I realize it wont be loud enough. I decide to go with playing through bill's (granpa's ghost) fender twin. chris at the bar is real sweet lady and she and I pick some songs on the the juke box together and she called it the chris and tom show. bob teagan arrived with his video gear and chris r., mel and her mom show up too.

   the first band sounder is a from cleveland and I had met the guitarist/singer alex in l.a. at the all tomorrow's parties fesival a couple months ago. I watch them play and then watch grandpa's ghost do a totally different set of delicate songs and leaves me baffled in a nice way. we get set up and play. I break a string and get a guitar from sounder and break another one. then they hand me another one and it lasts for a while longer as I try to adjust to the differentness of each changing guitar. I break another string and they hand me one more guitar, this time a strat and I get through ther rest of the show. it's always an adventure. cobra songer john comes on to sing the red and and the black and we finish.

we get ourselves loaded and head over to a guy named doug's apartment and after a little socializing I find a couch to sleep on.

from jer:

   I'm up before mike comes in from the urge to go piss. no shower, just a quick splash and I head out to the boat. we depart w/haste and head east for the last time. I take the snap seat the grab some shots of cleveland's more industrial side. maybe a good weather day to make me happy. I got a plan to hit the burrito hut a block from the grog shop. they had great hippie mexican as I recall. mike finds a good space next to the club and I make a beeline for the shoveling. tom joins and we feast fresh foods. soon he's off to find a bookstore and I make some calls home. I return shortly to the grog and hang at the bar. chris the bar girl is quite friendly allows me to search the tube for the laker's game. no luck, but I do find some croatian tv simulcast thatis very nationalistic. we check and I make sure my kits out of the way for the other two bands. first band sounder arrives and I rap some w/bassist lila. she tells of being an outcast in school never really joining a click, but just making friends w/any and all. I sense a fashion punker of old in her. nice leather pants though.

   I watch sounder and enjoy the fancy power pop. good guitar players that mix up the rhythm well. they finish the set w/a minuteman tune. I don't remember the title, you'll have to ask tom. grandpa's ghost is on again and back down some from the sonic deluge of yesterday. playing the room. next were up and crank the old model "T" to idle. better show than grand rapids for me. I feel more together w/the line up. tom has some trouble though w/his guitar early and has to use a total of four different axes. the other three belong to sounder. one didn't have any volume control and tom toughs it through. overall a good performance. no jimmy zero tonight. we stayed w/him last time and got some good stories on cheetah chrome. it's cold so I pack fast and change out of the wet duds.

   a local charter named doug offers his pad to crash and were lead off to the apartment. I take my left over chow from lunch and kick in the living room while tom and mike wander next door to hang w/the sounder cats. I'm just to tired to socialize tonight. I call kel and check in on the day. she's gotta deal w/so many things and I feel helpless to do anything from here. keep it together baby I'll be home soon. I find a mattress in the spare bedroom and move it on the floor. before the other guys return I'm near passout level. I think about pete and hope he got home ok. another night in a strange place, just a good sleep please... that's all I need.

from watt:

   pop and look what I find here still w/me? little skirmish, the hairless one! some purrs and then right into the sack w/me! I get the digicamera laying next to me and get some snaps, this is too precious. I relish this moment for a while. what a giving kitty! how I miss the man... (the cat I had for seventeen years) - ok, now to begin my day: hose off upstairs and then back downstairs to make some cof. outside has the great yellow sphere against cloudless blue, let's see how things will develop. we're travelling east (aaarrrrggggghhhhh - to have to backtrack) and that's the direction storms usually track so you can guess the odds... anyway, there's a gig waiting however the climate. tour is relentless but a noble endeavor. weather never receives such a focus from me like it does when I'm rolling in the boat, working the towns. hate to sound like I'm always harping on it or so disappointed. christ, he could be so much worse...

   there's a flannel here by my stuff - what a righteous donate, thank you, whoever. I'll wear it tomorrow night cuz I got a fresh one on now. I usually wear the one I'm going to play in from the night before. I need a dry one after the gig to avoid pneumonia and since I'm sweaty and don't hose off 'til the next morning, it joins the soiled ranks but a different degree than that of one soiled from a gig. I can wear this for the day and the gig that night. to go for a new one would exhaust my outfit supply to quickly - laundromats are kind of far in between and I must be econo about my wardrobe changes. anyway, many thanks for adding to my flannel arsenal here, whoever. it's a black and white one and though there's no flaps on the pockets to keep shit from falling out when you bend over, there still are two pockets so it's a keeper for me - just can't handle a one pocket flannel - so alien to me. it's kind of wide - no body shirt here. funny how folks like baggy stuff now and how in the 70s people liked things so tight. I think I'm a middle-of-the-roader regarding this. too tight hurts and too loose is a burden (all that fabric rubbing together). basically, I wear the same kind of outfits I did in high school! like john fogerty said, "ooh ooh ooh, lookin' out my backdoor," huh? what's w/these thoughts? I'm beginning to feel like a fucking clotheshorse!

   bye to jeff, bye to skirmish... we return whence we came, I-96. before we get to detroit though, we head south on us-23 to skirt all the motown plug. the skies are turning gray - hmmm... something seems familiar here... no big drops but some little ones, on and off. at toledo, we head south on the ohio turnpike. tom is pretty much konked the whole way, a payment he must make for all the yammer mode last night - man, did have the spiel going but like I said yesterday, he was still in cali time. we stop for some subway sandwich action and I try a new one: red wine vinegarette club. I put enough dave's on it though so it doesn't what the fuck it is - could be a horse dick wrapped up in straw and I wouldn't know. love the ride from the chillies though - whoa! brain vapors rising right up through the top of my head and getting my hair wet - alright! my eyeball light up too. it's a little bit of a ride, almost six hours but accomplish it we do - jer uses the software on the barbie purse to navigate us to the east side of cleveland and to the grog shop, where we're playing tonight.

   what luck, a parking spot just opens up by the pad, alright. mucha suerta, surely. this little area of cleveland heights is called coventry village and it's got book and record shops among other little businesses. the grog is still locked up so I go to a pay phone and do a spiel w/a columbus paper. the cat, rob, asks me about these books just out now on early u.s. punk and what about being kind of mythical. I tell him the only use I could see in any of that is if folks now, in this moment can maybe use some of that to make them more confident about expression they're trying to let loose. if they can see how some bozos like us we're getting the nerve up to do it then, maybe they'll see it's ok to go for it now. one thing I don't want is folks to think that shit can only live in the yesterday - no way. if people want to think about me in some kind of mythic sense (being consumed by preposterous feelings as I chimp this), they should see the scene I'm from as a reason for lots of that and d. boon for even more. I am in many ways, as far as those cats see me, as an extension of a movement, a logical conclusion - not so hard to understand if you follow the implications. I am from the soil that grew me. now I'm bent by the winds blowing over me (lots of it my own?). the worse thing that could happen is to get self-important about it, self-absorbed, self-righteous. aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh - the self. I guess you have to somehow speak of the self when you do a spiel. how can you speak for anyone else w/out being a bogart or a fascist? I guess you can have opinions - maybe that goes for speaking for yourself as well! I just hope rob can write an interesting article. questions about self-worth are hard to answer anyway. so many bigger issues in this world, really!

   the bosslady here at the grog, kathy, ate some weird chicken and got sick so she can't be here tonight. chris will take her place, she's great too. everything at this pad always goes smooth and easy. I chimp diary in the backroom while sounder, the local band opening tonight, does a soundcheck and they do a minutemen cover, "little man w/a gun in his hand" - what a trip, very nice of them. chris and mel show up w/mel's ma, as does bob teagan. bob will film and chris will tape. mel goes and gets me a salad when they go to chow. john from the verdes shows up to lend tom an amp but tom finds the sound not his enough so we thank john kindly for the tryout but we'll leave his amp w/him here in cleveland. thank you anyway, john. uncle ray is here and very apologetic for getting the cheetah chrome thing connected in nashville. he said he read the diary stuff about that 'event' w/horror but I tell him not to worry cuz in lots of ways, it was pretty funny and anyway, not his fault at all. those things happen. I then go to the boat to konk, I'm really beat from the hellride to get here.

   tom gets me for the gig - boy, is it cold - glad I had the blankies in the boat here w/me. tough gig in lots of ways. tom goes through like four guitars, borrowing one after another as he pops string after string. poor tom, he soldiers on admirably though. I can't hear the monitors so it's tough that way too. my amp is sounding like shit on top of it. I pop a 'g' string on the little bass, trying to pound some kind of tone out of it. aaarrrrrggghhh. good opportunity to spiel while I change it though but man, do I hurry to get things going again. this one guitar tom's using has no control for volume and "walking the cow" is a nightmare to do, more aaaaarrrrggggghhhh. we get to the end and the folks have us on for more. there was a flyer for a band in the window here for a band called "I am the world trade center" and I think seeing this makes me relate "little johnny jewel" to that september attack and I act out w/gestures and some changed words to reflect that - a weird take, very spontaneous. strange how that came on me like that. we get done and I get some great spiel w/folks. this cat has me sign his bass, love doing that. I get an anchor on a keychain, thank you much. the lady named juice tells me about her new musical project: alto sax, banjo and drum machine - her doing it all herself, alright! wasco's here and I ask him for a konk pad and he finds this cat doug. chris and mel offered up her ma's pad and that's very kind but we go for doug's cuz it's closer and I'm really sore from the gig - the wet cold really slaughters my joints, terribly. we pack up and say our bye and thanks and follow doug to his pad. jer says he hopes doug isn't driving cuz he has some really dark sunglasses on. I tell jer those are prescription glasses, doug looks a lot like a don flemming but not as tall.

   we're in the cleveland downtown, close to lake erie. doug and his girl, sarah take upstairs to a pretty neat band house sort of pad. there's a drum set, amps and a neat bass on the couch - it's got flat wounds for strings. I remember when I was a kid that this was the norm and no basses had roundwounds, that was a john entwhistle kind of thing. doug plays some great records, I mean records - not cds. not much of that anymore. I like it but it's hard for me to hear music after a gig, my head is so ringing from gig after gig. especially loud music, it's impossible for me to take and makes me insane. no offence to doug though, great tunes. he's got joint problems like me and gives me some ibuprofen, even extras for down the road. just being close to the lakes and having the cold mix w/the wet really ties one on for watt. damn. there's a bam! on the window. I think it's some old man neighbor complaining but it's actually some folks from the show. we go over to say hi but they got loud music going in the living room so I stay in the kitchen. no offense but it's just really hard on me. it's a cat name jeff's place and he's quite nice as his buds. I hope they don't take offense in me not going in and rapping but like I said about the music. I hate to seem like some complaining old man. of course there's beers but I'm not drinking. the tea all has caffeine so this lady tracy makes me tea. her pop's a pipefitter. it's late for me and w/the adrenaline wearing off, I feel myself curl up more and more w/the joint hurts. some rubs on me, thank you. so weird to make people think of things in the same old rock and roller cliche paradigm - like dimes a dozen. ridiculous. time for konk - byes to all. back to doug's and I'm in the sac w/the mask down when I hear rapping at the chamber door. I get up to get it and it's alex, the singer from sounder, who opened the show tonight. he's got a bottle of wine and a bottle of "jolly roger" hot sauce for me (the label says "it'll bleach your bones"). thank you, bro. he hands it over and bails. lights back out in the pad and then lights out for watt. noches.

tuesday, may 21, 2002 - pittsburgh, pa

from tom:

   I wake up and shave and get a $3:00 breakfast next door with jerry and then we move out, it's not so far to drive and we get to the 31st st. pub early and jerry and I go for a walk down the strip to stretch our legs. the weather is getting better and even though it's cool the sky is clear and doesn't look like it'll rain. we have some time to kill and the bar is open when we get back but they have exotic dancing going inside and it freaks me out so I stay outside. grandpa's ghost are there and we hang out with them and wait till the bar turns back into a punk club and the coast is clear to move in. the tiny stage inside is pretty cramped even with just the three of us. the first band is called handle and dave plays bass and sings and we stayed at he and amber's place last year so it's nice to see them again and to be able to check out his band. I spend a little time talking with dave about our influences and then check out grandpa's ghost and tonight they do a combination of the two previous nights ending with a sonic drone at high volume. great show and club ib is crowded so we get on and push through the set and still work out some kinks as we go. I had fun and loose a little blood out of my fingers but don't break any strings. still a tough gig but the people there are receptive to the fact that we are humans too and nothing's perfect. maybe that's the beauty of it.

   we follow dave and amber again back to their house through blanox and over the lavender bridge. we stay up for a while talking and then I go to my couch downstairs and sleep.

from jer:

   mike jars me up about 9:30 and the kitty cats invade the room. I decide to forego the shower and just get in the boat. it's maybe 5 hours to cleveland and I always find a way to rest in the van. haven't really had any trouble w/sleeping in either seat. a short cat nap can be rejuvenating. we negotiate the outer arteries to catch the river road that takes us across the alleghney river's 31st st. bridge and right up to the 31st st. pub. a trippy pad that has stripping during the day and rock at night. it's located at the end of a district called the strip. were early and the stripping doesn't start 'til 4 so I gather tom and we migrate towards downtown. there's a italian restaurant in the south end tom would love to eat at tonight and we go searching it's local. by the time we reach the city center a friendly city worker informs us a taxi ride might suit our needs. I think we'll simmer on it and take the long walk back to the club. upon the return I scope out the interior entertainment and meet mike at the front door. he's talking w/johnny banana, a promoter from mike's earlier days in pitt.. located directly ahead on the stage the show is on. I have to say I've not been to many strip bars in my life, but this scene is sad. maybe ten dudes in the place and only one watching a girl doing the bendover football center move for 10 mins.. I feel bad for the girl in this one. I avoid eye contact and continue w/my reading of the local rag. as it gets later the prospect of doing a sound check diminishes and I join tom in searching out a place to eat on the strip. the taxi idea gets scraped. a few blocks down we check out a pad w/an italian name, but turns out to be a grease spoon. a seafood pad kiddy corner to us makes the cut and we sit inside. it's quite empty and that itself should of clued us in. I order clam chowder and some stuffed mushrooms. tom gets the normally safe caeser. the shrooms didn't satisfy at all and tom's salad is bunk. we blow our bones again on lame ass chow. a learning experience.

   with our return the check is totally negated and I opt for the back room crash out. I can hear in my head the first band jamming. the bass player david is putting us up tonight. along w/wife amber we stayed w/'em last tour. I'm sorry to miss the show, but I get so tired sometimes it's the only way to make the tour through. I ask tom to wake me after they finish as so I can set up my kit in the storage room behind the stage. the ghosts are going on and ben the guitarist/vocalist has a raging hangover from pounding j.d. last night. the songs are a lesser density than last night, which might be due to a brain thrashing. I chat some w/a cat named mark who lives here and has seen watt many times. mike has some very cool fans that are genuine people and help give the music it's boost. he'll be at tomorrow's show in morgantown as well. thanks much friend. the ghosts finish and I wake the chief. he tells me to set up and I return inside to do so. the stage area is tiny and I try to gage the best spot to line up the kit. what I don't know is when mike arrives on stage he puts the mic stand back about a foot and a half to where I'm right in the way. he doesn't say anything 'til after we start and when it's too late to deal with. he musta knocked the bass out of tune about ten times on my cymbals. sound checks are a helpful tool kids, remember that. a tough gig, but were better for it.

   we pack and I grab a drink from the bar before the boss wants to bail. david it still hanging out while I rap w/some kind folk of the city. sorry I'm so bad w/names. it's just we meet so many people and they can tell me ten times I'll still forget 'em. soon david is ready and we follow to the burbs of pitt where they live. I take my stuff downstairs to the basement were I crashed last time and ask to use the tele to call kel. it's only a short talk 'cause I'm pooped out hard. I thank the hosts for everything and make my way back down for a much needed dozing.

from watt:

   pop and hit the head to hose off. yes, I should shave too. every other day maybe is lame but I just hate shaving. then I hate beards too. fuck all of it. I really hate shaving on tour but it helps w/the social thing - not getting followed around much in stores, people running to avoid you when you walk on the street, shit like that. when I wear a beard, I don't bother w/trimming it or anything - I mean, what the fuck? the reason I'm growing a beard is so I don't have to take a razor to my face, what's this about trimming and grooming it? anyway, when you let your face grow like that, lots of people take you for homeless, insane or some kind of threat - abstract or not. fuck, I'd rather just get by w/the least amount of friction possible. I save the mindblow shit for stage w/the little bass. the other part of my life I'd rather have myself disappeared. if you're going to have some confrontation in your life, why not save it for the struggles that really count for something. I mean, hair on your face? c'mon! a cool thing about waiting a day to shave your face is when you're done, the skin is way happening - like you took a minute (or maybe not so minute) layer of skin off and you're kind of like reborn in a baby-like way. pretty trippy. the wind even feels different on you, like you're all hyper-sensitized. I dig it. only lasts the morning though.

   I walk out on the street and there's a chow pad nearby - slovenia and the breakfast is two dollars. damn. I give these cats a two dollar tip. it's good eggs and potatoes. I get back to doug's pad. we rap a bit about stuff while I wait for jer and tom to get back from wherever. tom said he was going to get me a cof but he left w/jer and knowing jer - who's all about "jer first" lots of the time, he's w/him "taking care of jer." I just wish jer would tell me what's up so I ain't just left dangling. it's a great influence on tom too. they get back and jer says he's way behind on diaries. I tell him whatever cuz I mainly brought him to do drums, the diaries are a side thing (well, for watt they've become something of a lifejacket, keeps my brain from sinking). he says he's gonna get all caught up. right jer, please don't worry if you don't - you lasted about this long or even a little shorter last tour. he then smokes some mota on the table - that will surely get it done! sounds like I'm getting too much on jer's case so I should stop this here. he's been playing great drums and being a pretty good tour guy to be w/so this shit I going on about here is pretty trivial. he's just used to a different way of living than me - like ninetynine percent of the people in this world! he's not half wound nearly as tight and this life might be kind of an escape for what he has at home. for me, this is kind of like home. in fact, cuz of my incurring weaknesses, I gotta get more and more disciplined each time so I can just hang on and make it. it takes a fucking lot out of me to do this. I just can't think of another way to throw the whole weight of my life into anything else. it's not a side thing for me - it's a whole thing. that's why it's good for me to keep space from my guys cuz the tiniest shit turns weird. I'd just rather find ways for to get stronger to face this shit, I'm not looking for ways to get away. that's just where I am. time's too valuable in a way for me, I don't know how much more I have. sometimes I wish I had more of a handle on it but at other times, I don't. it's a kind of a two-sided thing. w/things on the line like I have them, I don't want to float but the price is constant fretting and no relaxing. well, sometimes when I konk or get lost in thoughts. on tour, it seems like I can't really organize a kill time period. the closest that comes is pulling down the konk mask and even that's not frittering shit away - I'm trying to make good on my sleep debt. sometimes too, that shit brings on hellthoughts and nightmares. this chimping shit is kind of funny, looking back on my day before and seeing what a fucking lunatic I am.

   like fretting, let's thinking about fretting. one big way I fret is how I wonder how I'm affecting others. it bothers me much. one of the worst feelings I can have is being any kind of a burden, it fucks w/me much and makes me fret to no end. sometimes it makes me want to have no connections w/the world at all - autonomy all the away. yeah, that means lonely I guess but I would pay that price gladly. don't need the weight. if I ain't helping out or being something positive than let me get the fuck out and please save me all that frettin' hell over that. don't need it. that's why I wish people would be upfront w/me and not just tolerate my presence sometimes. I think it's one reason I worry so much about the show too cuz folks pay up their dollars and I fret so about letting them down. I truly want them to feel it was worth it to go and subsidize this clown (myself) to try and take his trip further - beyonder. fuck just getting by or worse, getting away w/it. I fret about this much. also personally, I was not put on this earth (I believe) to be a fucking torturer. I do unintentionally stress situations cuz of my nature, though god, would I be grateful for some kind of antidote - I mean situations off the stage. I like to get stress going sometimes up there like that. actually, I like the dynamic between building it up and letting it go, the drama there when you're trying to make music or performance or whatever (artistic expression) breathe. maybe it's better to think of it as a certain tension but why not call a spade a spade and say it's stress? shit, I kind of believe if I could get a better handle at it w/the little bass than maybe I could purge it from other areas of my life where I totally loath and hate it - want it gone and stomped out (whoa, that's kind of stressful). I've learned socially to get much more passive, especially w/strangers and I think this is a direct result of all the gigs and going off like a nut trying to make my machines and scripts beat like thumping hearts and lungs. if you get the art to fuck like a rabbit then maybe the personal relations just won't have the energy to go off and reason can prevail. by reason, I don't exactly mean logic. I'm talking rather about how reason can lead to you reconciling things in a way that let's the heart really feel and not just be used as a sock stuffed into a jackboot for some fucking fit or reactionary response to weird mommy-daddy shit, you know - freudian hand puppet crap (funny, if george hurley caught you picking your ass he'd call you a 'hand puppet' - most appropriate here in a sense). in the expression stuff, you let the reason set it up but then when it comes to acting on it - "twist it off and let it fly." anyway, when I get this dual thing going more natural or get more confidence at it, maybe the fretting will turn more into a sense of responsibility and not just dread and terror. this is my hope.

   it's an easy drive to pittsburgh, maybe three hours cuz of contstruction. lots of little pieces of interstate are involved: I-90, I-71, I-80, I-76, I-79, I-279, pa-28 (it's only 140 miles) but soon enough, we're into the town w/all the bridges - where the allegheny and monogahela rivers go into the ohio one. on the way, tom prepares 'dines w/that chili sauce alex gave us (pretty tame, by the way) chows them w/me and jer. thanks, tom. we're across the 31st street bridge and bingo (or binga), where there - the 31st street pub on penn avenue. we're there a little before three and that's the time this pad has it's dual purpose: it's a strip club. the boss is cool cat named joel and it'll be my third time there. I meet his pop. it's kind of weird to be in the pad cuz the girls are working. this kind of work embarrasses watt - I don't know, it just does. always has. look who's just walked in? damn, I thought it was him as I walked in here but he's lost a shitload of weight - it's johnny banana! wow! I last played his pad, the electric banana four years ago - that was the place I always played in pittsburgh w/the minutemen and fIREHOSE. him and his wife judy were the best! judy would cook us this righteous chow, the both always treated us so great. johnny gets me in his truck and takes me up to the old pad on bigelow. damn, you would not recognize the joint! nothing like it was. there's a fire place where the drums used to go. antique furniture and lamps everywhere, a very classy place - very much. it's called zarra's now. me and johnny talk about all kinds of old times - he gives me the pair of "ron asheton" shades (yellow aviator ones) I spaced and left there last time I played. wow. two of his friends come in and judy cooks up all this chow for us, plate after plate of great southern italian chow. stuffed shrooms, stuffed banana peppers, mussels, raviolis, scrod, salad, garlic bread - the works, my biggest chow now of the tour - many times over! turns out his friends are plainclothes cops. I could kind of tell by the guns and cuffs. they're all about pittsburgh and curious about where I've toured, my life. it's a trippy dinner for me, I have to say. they're nice to me though - I get no 'tude and they seem quite genuine, especially the one sitting next to me, who's gonna retire soon. they hardly talk about their work at all, they talk about their ideas and experiences about places outside of pittsburgh and I tell them what I know. it's a trip. johnny takes me back to the venue and it turns out there's no soundcheck - the girls are going to work 'til 8:30. that's ok, the soundman jeff's done "at least ten thousand of these things" and knows exactly where to put the four mics. I go to the boat and konk cuz watt is very much worn and stuffed. I ain't used to that on tour. it was really good though. quickly, I'm out cold - and in the cold. shit, thank god for the blankies here in the boat.

   I have this weird dream I've completely spaced on now but I do know it seems like either tom or jer came to the boat to get me for the gig but it turns out that grandpa's ghost hasn't even gone on yet - just the opener, a local band called handle that has david cherry, the cat who w/his wife amber had us over last fall. damn, I missed them - I was out cold for three hours but it was a trip how I thought one of my guys rousted me. damn. I have the bag of shirts and my jacket on - can't konk now so I sit in the boat and listen to the ghost guys though the bulkhead. they sound good, a trippy drone kind of thing. then it's really our turn.

   damn, jer's set up way too up front. tom's squished against the wall. I can't play w/out hitting the headstock on the cymbals - what a fucked up scene. I don't what jer was thinking. we start off really rough, really rough. we get it going better but the kick drum is so out in front of me that I can't hear it. aahh, is this a hard gig. the monitors are toy and sound like they're under sandbags but this would be making excuses, wouldn't it? mainly, these probs are from the way we set up and could have been avoided. as a band, we learn something. tom needs confidence w/this stuff, just jumping on like he has so I want to be able to make much eye contact w/him. we gotta make sure that's possible w/the positing of ourselves on the stage. sure, this is a tiny stage but we could've easily still managed. there's something up too w/the tip of my right middle finger. there seems to be like a deep bruise there, underneath and it makes it hard to use it for plucking. aaarrggghhh. so goes tour life.

   I meet this cat who's good friends w/roky erickson who lives in pittsburgh now. he dug "sweet honey pie" and I told him to let roky know I love him and he's a huge inspiration on me. I talk w/the folks and they're quite nice and supportive. johnny banana and judy came and saw the show - I tell them I love them and it was great to see them again. I thank joel. we pack up and follow david amber to their pad in oakmont, east of town, along the allegheny.

   we get there and I lay out in the sack. my guys are eating and boozing but david comes into to the living room where I am to talk about things. he concerned about the future. him and amber have a little girl in the fourth grade. he reads a lot and loves literature. he has a picture of his grandpa in a sailor's suit w/his grandma. he wonders how things connect, the past and the future. I tell him that I think the past has only changing perspective of what might've happened and that can you effect your present but what is potential is the future and that's being born now. in the moment, we have potential. the past shapes how we view that but it doesn't become future. it can only pretend to be now. the journey is the footstep in the moment, it's for living. dante calls himself pilgrim in his comedy for good reason. life is a trip. it'd be nice to make sure the tomorrow is better for the kids but that doesn't mean to make it easier. don't try to understand (how really could you?) but still have a good look at grandpa. he's counting on you to make sense of the now for your time. a mind might picture all three time domains at once and call it art. it's ok to be curious about how these things work, especially in crazy periods of now. it's good not to get too certain also so you can keep learning. a good pilgrim is always learning and mostly by accident, even teaching a little bit, falling in between the been, next and now. now is where watt must begin to konk for a better next - been beat him up good.

wednesday, may 22, 2002 - morgantown, wv

from tom:

   jerry and I are in the basement and amber wakes us before she takes off. it startles me a little because I was in the middle of wild dreams. in the dream I am moving into a new apartment and for some reason I get lost and can't seem to find my way back. from what I remember I'm walking through a neighborhood, up a street and into a procession coming towards me. I get stopped by the crowd and they are police officers marching with a family dressed in black. when we meet they stop and I am standing there next to them and someone in front hands me a microphone and says to say a few words about the deceased, as if I knew the person best. I said something like "it's times like these that we must accept the support from our families and friendsOand godO", I just improvise. after getting passed the march I try to take a short-cut through a house thinking that I can get to my apartment that way. before I get through it I am stopped by a woman who is the landlord and she thinks that I am there to rent the place. I get out and bump into some friends that have a car so I hop in to get a ride. just as we start to take off a man comes running out of nowhere being chased by a policeman and gets caught right in front of us and the cop gets him spead eagle on the hood of the car, stopping me once again. this is the point where amber wakes us, after which I fall back to sleep and continue to dream. the dream picks up with me on a cruise ship from another country, somewhere in south america I think. on the ship I am trying to pay for something but I don't have the correct currency so I try to use a credit card and they ask what kind I have and I say "master card and american express", thay say "no visa?". so I get sent to a counter to try to get some money changed from my credit card, and thay say the same thing "no visa?". at this moment I notice that the woman behind the counter is weeping and I ask her "what's wrong?", and then motioning for me to come close she says "ricardo and maria are fighting again and he tore up all of her papers". I look down and see the scaps of paper on her desk that she is trying to tape back together. the dream switches to what I think is a reference to amber and being at dave and amber's house because after waking us to say goodbye I remember her going out the back door to do something before falling back to sleep. anyway, in my dream it's it's a different person but she's cooking something on a camping stove on the back porch of a house and as I approach her she say's "I bet you didn't know that I was related to the crystal louisiana hot sauce family", and I notice then that she is pouring hot sauce into a five gallon pot on the stove that is filled about a quarter of the way with onions.

   at that point I really do wake up and go upstairs and see that dave had made some breakfast and I grab a cup of coffee and tell my dream to mike and dave. mike say's that it's a tour anxiety dream, it's true that sleeping in a different place every night does something weird to me but I seem to have a lot of these kinds of dreams, I just usually don't remember so much detail.

   we spend some time talking with dave. it's a beautiful day outside and we don't have far to drive so I guess it's about two o'clock before we leave. jerry navigates our exit through pittsburgh and drive through rolling hills of trees and rock southward to morgantown. I've never been here before, but like most towns east of the midwest there's a river running through it. on the other side of the bridge is the club and we park and try to relax for a while. the club is open but not for buisiness yet. I find a guinness book of world records and amuse myself with that for a while.

   the time before till after the show goes along as usual with the exception of the fact that the band signal to trust from minnisota is traveling trough and stops in to see the show and since there is only us and grandpa's ghost on the bill they go on and play first which is cool and fun to see and good for them to keep in practice. it's not a very big turn out but the people that are there have a good time and we talk to a few locals after our show and then drive back over the bridge to the club owner's house for the night. the house is right on the edge of the river and I put my sleeping bag on a bed upstairs. with the moon shining brightly through the window I lay thinking of home and what dreams I might have tonight.

from jer:

   I arise and take a seat on the basement toilet located in an open space in the middle of the room. totally exposed to anyone walking in. I hear the sounds of people milling about upstairs. I grab my goods and make for the boat to unload the extras. inside david has made some breakfast that's about two hours old. mike woke early and the chow was fixed then. I use the micro to reenergize the eggs. amber split early and did say bye as we laid downstairs. they have a daughter named starr, but once again she's staying w/grandma. I chow my eggs up and grab the labtop to do some chimp 'til we leave. david pulls out a book w/a section deticated to watt which has an artist's rendering fronting the story. they gave him a giant head and a 100 tooth smile. I show it to mike and he chuckles on the sketch. we soon need to depart and I thank david much for the space and meal. it's a late start 'cause morgantown is only 1 1/2 hours out. just across the w. virginia border south of pitt. I take the snap seat once more and enjoy a beautiful day that seems rare on this trip. so much rain and gloom over the last three weeks, I can't bare it any more. mike calls the nice weather 'the taunting' as it always looks good in the morning and turns to crud in the afternoon. though not today, only wonderful sunshine. from the highway the town is only three miles and I help find the club on the map. mike parks the boat and I check out the club called 123 pleasant. that's the address of the pad. we have some time 'til sound check so I hook up the 'puter to the internet and check the 'ol e-mail. my pal ed sent some pics kel did w/friend jamie and I'm not disappointed. man are they cute together. a little cowgirl look thing going on. a have a beer at the bar and screw w/the programs some while waiting for the load in. the sound guy chris arrives and we set up. this cat has the room down and check goes smooth and quick. mike's is off to his konk and I join tom for a hamburger across the way. the place doesn't look like much, but this guy can cook a killer burger. I call kel and get an update on my tax situation. todd conroe, an old friend, is repairing my blunder and I can't thank him enough. I'll take him out when we get home. feeling tired I tell kel bye and go to the club to find a good place to snooze.

   the music is soon going and I stay in a haze listening to signal to trust. they showed up w/o a show and worked an opening spot w/a bit of finesse. I listen for about 20 mins. then get up and watch the last two tunes. a good fun band w/tons of energy. next the ghosts climb aboard and start into what turns out to be a 40 min. tune. I rejoin the couch and listen in my half conscious state. as soon as their done I go and wake mike for the show. our turn out is maybe 75 or so. not a huge crowd, but very eager. we put on a gig w/some good vibes and I'm pleased w/the outcome. very nice folks here in the south. this is as far east we'll be from here on out. I get into a mock wrestling match w/pete the bassist of signal and he end up rolling down the street in obvious defeat. we pack up get our bodies into the boat for a short ride over the river.

   l.j. the owner of the club offers his pad to crash for the night. we follow the directs across the water and next to the river. I can only see the river to the left and were supposed to make a left turn soon. no way is there a pad down here. but after we make the turn and cross a set of railroad tracks theres the house. between the tracks and the river is seems to be just right for the night. inside we find a note saying to make ourselves at home. I wander upstairs and find a room w/a futon bed set up. tom takes the other room while mike grabs the couch downstairs. I plug in the computer and settle to sleep for the night.

from watt:

   pop and find david ready to take his little girl to school. she shakes hands w/the weird middle-aged man in the konk sack on her pop's couch. I'm by the door so they say bye as they leave. what bizarre turns can lead a life to. I serve some purpose though, somehow. I don't feel ingenious or like a shill. especially w/david, he's quite ernest and from talking w/him, I'm glad I've got to be in some part of his life. I guess that's the good part about being a public person. what a concept, huh? not just people wanting to know you cuz you're known but more cuz they're interested in what they're thinking about themselves and how those ideas might seem, put to a sailor who works a little bass (maybe a bassman who's a little like a sailor?). it helps me make a little sense of what I'm trying to do in this world too - it sure ain't adding to the ranks of rock and roll cliche fascist goose-steppers, I am certain I'm at war w/that shit and party to those trappings only by circumstance. folks letting me into their family a little feels much more what I would call actual and vital. it makes a lot of what I'm trying to do significant to me. it's ok to be the weird uncle who comes by to make thanksgiving funny and strangely interesting for a bit. I know my place. I understand what they're doing, making a life, raising a family, adding to what's good in this world is more important than any cartoon image I find myself associated to cuz of my work. they, just being themselves and treating me likewise help expose that bullshit for the con and jive shill that it is and I find it healthy. d. boon used to tell me he always wanted folks to know how we were off the stage by how we were on the stage. I thought that was iimpossible cuz of all the nuremberg rally-like baggage tangled up in the act of doing a gig w/your friend in front of people but since he believed that somehow you could do it, I thought I would try as hard as I could w/him as well. after all, if you were on stage w/d. boon, there was no way you couldn't have confidence to go for it - especially if it meant just being yourself. you can't know how strong d. boon was about that. inspirational. anyway - traveller, person on stage, conflicted metal case, learner, weird uncle - the whole nine yards. it's a life. I chimp diary for monday, I'll get yesterday's this afternoon. this way, I'll be writing about the day before which is how I like it. had to make up for that chimpless day in toronto, where I was too spent.

   david comes back and cooks up chow as his wife amber leaves for work. he shows me this issue of punk planet (great magazine, by the way) w/an article w/me in it. the "legend" thing again. whoa, I chimped about the other day in the tour spiel. self-referenced, I seem to be, huh? enough, already - other things to talk about... there's a great article on richard hell, alright! david asks me about the u.s. presidents while I was kid, lbj and nixon. he asks if I thought folks really listened to these guys and held them in awe like they were rockstars. ha! probably. I got the sense a lot of people thought they were a load a shit w/their fingers on the levers too. there was contempt for them and there was lots of thinking that they were clowns and maybe how dare they hold lives at bay w/their strut and swagger? me, I was trying to figure out why my pop had orders to be part of a war there. my thinking was that it wasn't just these guys giving the orders but there was a mood in the country that wanted them there and after a while, a mood to want them out. I couldn't accept the fact the things were just in the hands of the "important" people. it didn't make enough sense. I saw people in their day to day actions arbitrating power in a dynamic. I thought a lot of things came about through ideas being put against other ideas. I had my heads in the clouds in lots of ways. I never was that cynical and thought lots of things happened because of misinterpretations or skewed views of reality. I couldn't really see people being made to do things cuz they were swayed or mesmerized. just couldn't see it, I figured people had to be in on it. like later in the 70s when some people were saying "disco sucks," what the fuck was this about? no one made anyone listen or play any disco records. no one made anyone dance. maybe people got tired of seeing one or a few people on stage and wanted to watch each other. I always thought there was lots of more power that wasn't seen than that was public. of course, these "big boys" were beholden to their underlings paradoxically - that was the price. there was lots to make fun of. there still is. david tells me his younger brother (only seventeen) visited and wanted to know about dante. he said that was a trip cuz he couldn't understand why but he gave him his copy of "inferno." I was seventeen when I first read and fell for the "commedia." I remember my english teacher telling me that was not a book for a young man. I got told many funny things by teachers. I had a music teacher (I only ever took one music class, in the seventh grade) named mister luna at dodson junior high (they don't say "junior high" anymore, huh?) that said I tried hard but just didn't have it. I think these teachers had a perspective that in some ways might be justified but thank god for punk rock and trying out any fucking art you want - especially to be w/your friend or feed a fire in your head. anyway, david got a longfellow translation of the 'commedia" and has me sign it. I call him "pilgrim" in the little spiel I put in it.

    big thanks to david - he gives me a copy of yury olesha's "no day without a line" - it was in the head and I was reading it, drip-drying in there after hosing off. tom read some while he was shittin' too. tom was able to talk art w/david, I didn't hear all of it but david does art and of course, tom knows lots about the subject. he got schooled in it. I wish I would've taken an art class sometimes. I did read lots of books on it for myself when I found punk and met pettibon... it makes me think how lacking I am in some things I'd love to sponge up w/my brain. it'd help my bass and song stuff too, I know it. just thinking about some people, like raymond, fires me up so. I want to be on more of a even ground w/him... I seem to have to look up to the people that really kick me forward, help me not be so afraid and dare w/my mind, my heart... I just feel so little even though raymond has never made me feel little, ever. he's righteous to be around, like d. boon. I really miss him out here... I wish we could go see the ponies and I could listen to him, ride on his thoughts...

   anyway, we're riding in the boat and we have to head west (david lives east in oakmont) to catch the freeway to morgantown. pittsburgh is laid out along three rivers and some deep cuts in the mountains so it's not like you hook up to the highways anywhere. the fort pitt bridge is closed too so we gotta be clever about how we navigate. jer does a great job w/the map. we even get to go back and take snaps of last night's gig cuz I spaced and didn't do that yesterday. jer guides me to the west end bridge over to I-79 and I wheel us about the winding ways 'til were south through washington, pa and then into west virginia. we stop for gas and I get some cherry sours, it's one candy I sometimes get, they're a trip. I like sour shit more and more as I get older - maybe cuz I miss the whisky, huh? we take a twisting road off the freeway into morgantown and were soon parked in front of 123 pleasant, tonight's venue. don does the greet and makes us feel right at home. I played here last ten years ago. I remember when it was called the underground railroad and a great lady named marsha ran it. she used to be a hippy and had the bylaws of the commune she lived on before up in her office. she disappeared, maybe murdered. makes me sad to think about that. I'm gonna play for her tonight. I meet the owner, lj, who's very cool people. he invites us to konk after the gig at his pad. thank you, lj. we soundcheck w/chris, who's seen me play in pittsburgh. it was his urging, lj tells me, that got me to come back and play here again. thank you, chris. lots of this that I'm involved in is about happening people. watt, you're a lucky man. play your fucking brains out for them all. I finish yesterday's tour spiel in the boat and then go out for some air. I feel good when I'm caught up w/the chimping - a trippy sense of accomplishment. maybe some sense happiness can be found in the tiny victories!

   there's a store next door going out of business and someone named vena is moving stuff. big age difference but same disaffection w/popular trends so I talk about my funny old punk days and how it came to make me how I am now. spieling like this can wear me out though. I must konk. this van w/minnesota plates pulls up and it's pete and jonathan, two young men who saw me play once in chico, even had me konk at their pad in the twin cities and now they're on tour but w/out a gig tonight. I make it so they can play before the ghost cats. then I konk hard and deep in the boat. no chow but for some pears. I love pears anyway so it's ok. tour don't make that hungry and anyway, all that italian food from yesterday is still holding some ground in my chow sack.

   tom rouses me w/some foot shake - I missed both bands before us. aarrrggghh... only so much energy and I must ration it. morgantown is a college town and school's out - the price of touring in late spring when you hit these places. a smaller crowd but still intense. pete and jonathan are right up front - pete w/much fist in the air and hollerin'. aahh, I forget a pick again and have to use a quarter. I was going to change up the order of the set list but konk came on too quick and hard so I'll do that for tomorrow. don't want to get in cruise-control mode. we're set up real good so it's easy for me to connect w/both tom and jer and it's lends for a good set. the best jom & terry show set of the tour yet. my guys play great. tom pops an 'e' string early but pete races up his tele to help out. it does fine for tom the rest of the gig. I do so much better this gig retrieving all the parts, like getting used to an old bike (I was told this analogy to help me overcome fears of playing w/tom and jer again after so long w/pete - it's a good one) by actually getting on and riding it, not just thinking (and fretting) about it. we do "sister ray" w/ben and bill of grandpa's ghost. wow, an keyboard w/us from bill besides ben on guitar. sounds like he wailed one big 'g' chord, lee ranaldo doing "the red and the black" style. I do the tina turner's sister's rap song better. I like this gig and thank the morgantown folks much. I talk w/them after and there's a pittsburgher here - the cat who knows roky - wow! thank you for seeing us again! fuck, forgot to ask him his name. michelle, who booked this pad in the old days is here. she came back after living in san francisco and pittsburgh. she clears up some memories I had screwed up. my head does mangle shit, I can't understand why. it frustrates, even worries me. aaaaarrrrggghh. there's an anarchist cat who talks a little emma goldman w/me. I love emma. there's people from other towns here. one guy is from portland and I tell him tobi just emailed me and told me all the sleater-kinneys live there now and have a new record. he says that they don't rock hard enough for him - what's that about? I mean, there's no bass, but...

   lj left word w/don on how to get to his pad. so we're on our own after loading up and thanking everyone much for everything. we take the road over the monogahela and then one along side it, go down a hill and then backtrack a little, right at the shore and get to a pad w/the porch light on. door unlocked, there's two notes on the table telling us things are right for us. thank you, lj! there's couch in what lj wrote is the "tv room" and I throw the konk sack on that and fill it w/the watt form. it is a sore form. damn, did I play hard. for a smaller crowd too but like what hank rollins would say, "that's when it counts, when you find out what's you." I have some good tradition to draw from. thanks, henry. konk brings relief from the soreness. grazie dio.

thursday, may 23, 2002 - columbus, oh

from tom:

   I hear a dog barking and look up and see jerry trying to quiet the house dog sasha on his way to the bathroom. I lay there for few moments recalling another night of restless dreaming, this time more abstract and emotional. I only remember the feeling of exteme joy and then getting involved in some kind of a police scuffle with a man who throws a hatchet at me but misses and at that moment one of the undercover policemen shoots a tranquilizer at the crazy man but just before he goes down he trows a knife and it hits me in the side. I am badly wounded and blood shoots out like a hose and then I see the scene from above, like an out of body kind of thing. I guess that I died in that dream because that's how it ended. the strange thing is that I go into another dream with the same beginning of feeling like I have found some kind of bliss of eternal happiness or inner peace that is like having the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders and that nothing would ever change it back. just at the highest point of joy I find myself walking through a doorway and out of nowhere a man walks up to me with a knife and cuts my throat. I deffinately die in this dream. disturbing, isn't it. so much for rest.

   I get myself cleaned up and downstairs and meet lj and trish, lj makes some food. in the daylight I notice how pretty it is outside and after talking and eating we go out to walk to the rivers' edge. it's not that far to columbus so we are lazy to leave but finally do and go west.

   the land begins to change as we drive from northern west virginia through half of ohio to columbus. the weather is warm and mostly clear and we hope it stays this way. we get to little brothers and since we're a little early jerry and I walk for a while and get a snack and see granpa's ghost driving down the road and bill sticks his head out the window and makes some kind of monster sound as they go by. I think that means we've made some new friends. getting back to the club we load and wait for the soundman and talk to dan dugan the club owner at the bar. this will be my fourth time playing here with mike and dan's a great guy so it's a familiar scene. after we soundcheck jerry and I walk down the street to an italian place that was suggested to us and as walk further and further we start wondering if we've passed it. we decide to press on and on a corner up ahead there's a group of guys hanging out, a couple latino guys and a few black guys and as we get close it's a little tense so I kind of just keep my eyes to myself and walk past. just as I am passing what seems to be a little disagreement between a hispanic guy and a black guy I notice that the black guy has a fourty ounce bottle in one hand and a knife in the other. I only see this when I am away from him, close enough to smell the cheap beer from his breath. I just keep cool and walk quickly on and look back to see that jerry had seen what was going on before and had stopped so I stop and wait till the two guys go across the street and into a market parking lot to resume their stand off. jerry and I decide to blow off the italian thing and go to the japanese place that I've been to before.

   as we walk back up the road past the club I think about the weird coincedence of our little encounter and the dream I had last night. it makes me think that I should listen to my dreams more. we get to haiku which is a stylish place and not cheap but from what I remember it's pretty good. I order the udon tempura soup and jerry gets some sushi rolls and miso. it was pretty good and yes, not cheap and before we leave I write a haiku to leave behind. it went something like: at little brothers mike watt and tom and jerry eleven o'clock

   we get back to the club and watch granpa's ghost, and then we play. for some reason I think we are all a little worn out and mike says he feels a fever coming on but we make it through and survive. when we get packed up we see steve and amy who stayed with last fall and we follow them back to their place again. jerry and I get their son's room again and I take the top bunk and go right sleep.

from jer:

   I get up and pop my head out the door of the room. I'm greeted by a startled dog named sasha that does what's natural, she growls w/glaring teeth. l.j.'s girl trishia scolds the dog and tells me all's well to brave the stairs. I take some stuff to the boat and decide to shower up before breakfast. our host has gone to the store to get some fixings and I check out the pad. trishia has to work so we say so long and l.j. begins to cook chow. he soon gets a call from her saying no work today. so back she comes and we enjoy a great breakfast. I go outside w/the others to walk off the food and check out the river side. the pad is built next to an old dam site. the foundation is still in place on the bank, but the main span in gone. I look up river about a 1/4 mile and see the newer dam at work. I river level is down the side wall about 15 feet and l.j. shows us how high it was during the last big flood. "we'd be standing in 2 feet of water right now" he states. all the area around us is over grown w/vines and creepers, some of which is poison ivy. sasha the dog runs all through it and I avoid any contacts w/her. after checking the water and oil on the boat mike gives the signal to load up and we take to the road. as usual for the last 3 weeks the rain makes a short appearance on the trek. we roll into town and park in the loading dock of little brother's. there's a car parked next to us w/a window busted out. I gape inside and see the radio missing. looks like a fresh bust. we heed the warning and take precautions w/the boat. I get tom out to grab a bite near by at a hotdog diner. so-so tasting stuff. we see the ghosts driving down the street w/bill acting insane while hanging out the window. maybe that's just the way he is? we get back and check up the sound. outside the girl that owns the car is surveying the damage. I hate that shit, people don't deserve this. I'd love to catch the little prick in the act. I linger around the bar area and chimp up some while watching some news shit channel. dan doogan the owner guy is chilling and we discuss some afghan topics being tickertaped across the screen. our theories on why the government continues to scourer the countryside for fighters. maybe their clearing the area for a oil pipeline to run from the north to pakistan. I remember reading that the taliban had already rewarded the pipeline project to argentina before all the shit went down. makes you think about the real reasons for all the happens involving the u.s. intervention. my hunger soon comes about and I gather tom for another trip to a chow pad.

   tom tells of an italian place the ghosts just returned from. we get directs (sort of) and venture off for din. about 4 blocks from the club we pass a group of characters hanging on a corner. one of 'em is holding a 40 and acting belidge towards the others. I study the man and slow as I notice he's holding a knife in the other hand. before I can say anything to tom he's walked passed the man. I stop in my tracks as they face off in front of me. 40 man suddenly darts across the street and I scurry past the others. one guy follows and they continue their posturing on the other side. tom says he didn't see the knife 'til he was next to the guy. I gaze back to see what's up w/the scene. our search for the chow pad is given up and we turn to head back towards a sushi place 7 blocks down. we pass the dudes on the corner who watch the two guys across the street still going at it. after we walk by I turn and see one of 'em pull out a chain and start towards the 40 man. some crazy shit. we can't walk away fast enough. we get to the haiku dining experience and sit for some calmness. it's a little pricey, but I'm starving and don't mind spending a few dollars more for a great meal. w/the meal completed and no more chain or knife wielding goons to be seen we make tracks back to the club.

   folks begin to gather and I feel a need to rest in the back room. tom goes out in front to watch the ghosts do their show. it's the last show w/o drummer jack who climbs aboard tomorrow in cincinnati. I stay in the middle sleep phase as they play, never quite falling totally out. the sets done and tom wakes me for our turn. I shake off the tired's and go to the bar for some waters. the boss is woken and we plow the till one more time. I'm feeling kinda drained and just don't have much energy to give my all. the 39th gig in a row is taking its toll. I've hit the wall before and come out the other side still standing, so this is just a small speed bump for me. we finish and I see steve and amy, the folks that put us up last tour. they offer their house once again to crash at and we accept.

   mike follows steve to the pad just a mile away and parks the boat in the back. I hump my stuff upstairs and take the lower bunk bed just like before. tom's on top and that's the way I like it. I chat for a couple minutes w/the folks then return to my sleep chamber for the nights napping.

from watt:

   pop and hoof out to the boat to get fresh clothes - these have had it. most of the time, I only get a chance to get a dry flannel after the gig and have to the levi, sock and underwear thing when I get a chance to get out to the boat in the morning. it's fucked but my clothes are stowed behind the back bench and hard to get to plus I'm very tired and ready to konk quick once we make port. thing is this morning I'm barefoot and it's a gravel road here - ouch! I eventually do make it though and make the switch into freshness which feels good. didn't get to hose off yet cuz I don't know where the head is - lj was konked when we got there so I just pissed in gatorade bottle and passed out in the sack cuz I didn't want to disturb him. I learned not to just go wandering around pads opening doors. you can imagine the scene I bursted in upon to teach me that lesson... I go out on the porch and observe all the righteous nature around here by the river. this pad was an old lockmaster house - this is right near where the locks used to be before they moved the dam. it's a righteous old pad w/many neat and unique things built into it - I dig it. sitting outside here and thinking about things, I see a cardinal, a bright red little fellow w/the black mask and yellow beak. a beautiful bird. it makes me think I forgot to mention me popping up this morning from konk to the sound of two little ones in a cage a few feet away - a tiny finch and likewise small dove, coos and beautiful song for watt to meet this new day. the cardinal is so beautiful, it's the state bird for here in west virginia, virginia as well and ohio. he gave me quite a trippy look - a tip of his head to one side, eyeing me over. made me think and I had quite some eye contact w/him. funny how w/some of the birds in their world that it's the guys who are all dolled-up while the lady ones are kind of plain. not that way w/eagles (in fact, the girls are kind of bigger) but it is w/cardinals. theses scarlet guys always make me think of being a boy in virginia - we don't have these in cali. seeing them makes me feel good. being here w/the sun warming me feels good - maybe we'll dodge some rain like yesterday?

   lj pop and makes me some cof. thank you. he goes to get some chow to cook up for us and his girl tricia talks w/us about the things she sells, skin care stuff. it comes up after talking about differences between here and cali and mentioning yucca. yucca is used in some of the skin care potions. she says they're for "bobos" - bourgeois bohemians and we all admit, someone has to service them. I've just learned about doing stuff for your skin in the last year, like using a loofa (sp?) to exfoliate the dead skin cells. if it's econo, I can get into it. I've be given aroma therapy stuff to put in the tub to soak in and that was a trip. I maybe should put stuff on my hands but I have to say where they hurt isn't from cracking - they're pretty pliable and w/out open wounds and sores. that happened more when I was in my twenties and early thrities. what hurts in my hands are the joints (knuckles especially) and the tips of my fingers, under the skin. isn't that weird? it's like under the callouses and right above the bone - it's hard to explain. tricia tells me where the head is and I hose off there. now I truly am a fresh and rejuvenated watt.

   lj comes back and cooks up some eggs w/potatoes and carrots in them - great combo. his pop's people are italian heritage, no wonder. great chow. we get talking about genres and what a fucked up prison camp of the mind that is, product logos on kid's clothes - that kind of shit. you know, the usual state of shill and how funny it is. west virginians are as hip to the deal as anyone anywhere else. lj goes out w/me to help get a wire around this fitting on a hose on the motor air intake housing for the boat. another gift from "mister eye for detail." thank you again. lj gets the wire around the fitting and twists it up good while I seal the deal w/duct tape. this'll hold good. thanks, lj. time to shove off, we say bye to this nice couple, lj and tricia and make our way back up from the river and out of town, onto the freeway. north on I-79, back into pennsylvania and west on the I-70 at washington. lots of grade, up and down here - that's the way this country lays. very pretty. one little finger of west virginia again around wheeling and into ohio, probably the hilliest part of the whole state. we see a scary sight, cars stopped in the right land cuz an old lady has come the wrong way down on an offramps (guess she thought it was an onramp). she was flustered and didn't know what to do... all of us in the boat say prayers for everyone. it's scary on these roads, believe me. there's a ritual we do each morning: we "anoint" the boat by spraying some peach air freshener shit into the air three times - once on our picture of buddy rich on the roof and say, "bless buddy," then once forward in the air and say, "bless the boat" and then one spray back and say, "bless us all." it's funny but we truly mean it. you just don't know what the fuck is waiting for you out there. we cross the ohio river to cambridge (the ohio one), zanesville (named after the western writer - he lived on the island by pedro, catalina) and then columbus.

   we get to the venue, little brother's, about three. there's a car there w/the passenger window broke out and the radio gone. broad daylight and the lady was working right across the street. gotta watch the boat close. I say hi to dan, the boss here - dig him much. many, many gigs here and the old pad he had up the street, closer to the school, stache's. this pad's been here a few years and is in a part called the short north. I head a few doors down to goody boys, an old style chow pad where I eat liver, onions, mashed potatoes and applesauce. good shit. I go back and find the stuff jer's ma sent from new hampshire got here safe - thank you much, jenny. I do some 'puter and bogart dan's office - sorry, dan. I get a letter from a sailor on the uss lincoln - it's josh, who's wife, lori, talked to me about them and their baby and the navy thing. he sure misses her on the boat there, on station. I can imagine. he's tripped out to find himself in the diary. the diary seems to be taking on a life of it's own, huh? like it's on tour or maybe those who appear in it are, doing their little gigs for it. I'm thinking more and more about this. good to hear from josh and I write him back. I get some pictures from a cat who said he saw me in pittsburgh cuz of a friend and dug what went down. damn, do I wish I had enough hours in the day to write all these kind folks. when I get back to pedro, I am definitely laying out the time for that cuz it's quite a genuine connect. much respect to them for having a little adventure in them to see the weird pedro guy work the little bass w/his compadres. I just can't read any more though and there's tons left - aaaaarrrrggggghhhhh, it frustrates me so. I have to chimp yesterday's happening before the memory loss god claims them, there's no email to retrieve there. we do soundcheck w/soundman bill and expose him to some of the tour humor we develop in the boat. he seems both appalled yet understanding. ryan, who moderates the watt list is here to record the show - he lives here and he gives me some reed's ginger beer (a four pack) and some pears - thank you, ryan. to the boat w/it and I get my tour spiel chimped in, damn - no rain means a little heat, huh? watt's got some sweat on him as he konks.

   a heavy konk embraces me and I'm stirred only by tom, waking me for the gig. I lumber out of the boat, into the pad and up on the high stage. you kind of tower over folks here and it makes sort of uncomfortable. I've assembled a new set list for tonight and it seems to be working kind of lame. oh well, just something to stir things up. I think I have some fever cuz I'm a little light in the head but plow on I do. one way to deal w/threatening sickness is not to give but rally and go off on the shit. I've found that whuppin' it up good during a gig can knock those bugs right. at the very least, he bring on the adrenaline to make you feel like you're better. I am very aggressive w/the little bass, very much so. this amp is sounding really bad, don't know how much longer it can hold out. must be a design problem cuz it's doing the same thing the amp it replaced (same model, sunn 1200s), only slower. it'll get there though, you can tell. yesterday in morgantown, I called eden and told them I'm gonna get one of theirs (wp-100 preamp/wt-1000 amp) plus getting these blown speakers replaced (I'm an endorser). god, what a dream to have a good bass sound. hopefully, these soundcats have gotten something ok out to the folks but on the stage, what shit - terrible. someone keeps yelling "I-94" which is a website from australia that digs stooges stuff so for an encore, I do three stooges tunes. I break a 'd' string in "little doll" but solo much w/the remaining three strings and damn if it might not be my best solo of the tour! shows to go you, huh? I was much inspired by this tune and didn't want to give up on it just cuz of a difficulty like a mere mechanical choke - it was too important for me. when I'm blessed w/the righteous inspired feeling, I try my damndest to go w/it and let it take me. the unforced and genuine nature of something like that is hard to describe - you only get so often and I can't exactly reason the causes - I think it's a combination of things, maybe most of them having to do where you're at even before you get on stage. sometimes your head's there and sometimes it's your body - hard to quantize. maybe the fever too, huh? I don't know, it's like being in a sailboat out at sea, you can only deal w/the wind, not tell it where to blow. jer chokes on the end of "tv eye" but I ask him to get over it, the stooges are about feel and not just parts. first time we ever played it this tour anyway. I think I screwed up the words at the end anyway, saying "yeah, I do mean you" instead "I love her so." maybe cuz I wanted to mean both. don't worry, jer. I hurt the little bass (accidentally) in "sister ray," where the cord to the amp mates w/her. this part got jammed into the amp when I was fucking it. there's still sound but the wood is broke around the fitting (jack) and it's half inside her. aaaarrrgghhhhh... I can finish up though and we do.

   I sling and rap w/folks. I give a flannel to someone who tried to buy one off me before but that one was given to me and I thought that was not a right thing to do. I bought this one they want now at a thrift store so it's like I'm not being disrespectful of something given to me. I don't take the money but just give it away. one lame thing though is that some cat had just given a chain w/an "oh shit" emblem or whatever hanging from it and I put in the pocket. now that's something that was given that did get donated (along w/the flannel) but I didn't do it on purpose. I just fucked up and spaced - my head gets spun sometimes. no disrespect intended. ryan invites us to konk at his pad and meet his cat pedro (he pronounces it like the way we do w/our town: pee-dro) but I've already excepted an invite from steve and amy, where us j & t's konk last tour. thank you anyway, ryan - very kind of you. I pack up the hurt little bass and then talk w/boss dan. one of his workers, martha, starts talking w/me about seeing different places and things, she wants to go in a west virginian coal mine and explore it. she has quite an open mind about different places and people, not so judgemental and prejudiced - in fact, pretty curious to have a look at things herself and learn about them that way. I would like to see this in more people. it's refreshing when you chance on someone w/these insights.

   we follow steve and amy to their pad and I take the same couch I did last time though maybe it's a different one? same place anyway, I think. steve talks about being in cali before, being there to skateboard and whoa, were there some hills! I tell him I try to work the bass like a skateboard. I have much respect for skaters. what he's saying is interesting but my thinking though keeps going back to how and what I remember and why, what for? seems my mind mangles up some little details always but then others are preserved immaculately. I wonder why that is? what part of my head is deciding which is worth blurring is which is sacrosanct? is it random, partly random - how random? steve leaves me to konk. the questions gnaw on me as I lay there w/the mask on. there's a cat running around and that gets my attention. enough to allow me to let go of the memory inquiry and let my beat self konk.

friday, may 24, 2002 - cincinatti, oh

from tom:

   sometime in the early morning, before the sun, I am awakened by jerry's snore. I climb down the little ladder from the top bunk and use the bathroom and drink some water and make just enough noise to stop jerry's snore without wakeing him as I climb back up. I hear the house cats playing in the hallway and fall back to sleep.

   when I get up a few hours later I shave and go downstairs and have coffee with amy and mike. during a conversation on evolution amy makes us some food and then amy has to take off and after mike posts the new diaries we make sure the house is locked up and then we get started for cincinnasti. before leaving columbus we make one stop at the sam ash music store and we pick some stuff we need. there's a guy there who was at the show last night and he asks us to sign a poster for him and we do.

   the drive is a little wet and gray as we head south and I change my clothes and gather up a small load of wash to do at sudsey mallone's which is a couple blocks from the top cat where are playing tonight. when we get into town we find the street we need and park in front a guitar shop where we drop off mike's bass to have the jack repaired. I look at the pedals but resist the temptaions. we see our friend adam out front and he is going to help jerry by driving him to a guitar center to get a new hardware bag. I tell jerry that I'll put his clothes in the dryer while they're gone.

   by the time jerry gets back we are down at the club and ready to load. grandpa's ghost is there already and we all get our stuff inside. It's a nice day but a little humid inside the club and change my strings. after soundcheck jerry and I go with chris and dre and a couple of their friends to a hotel that they are staying at tonight since they drove down from michigan to see the show. we leave their mini van at the front with the door man and go up to their suite on the 11th floor. we sit and have some food and I narate to the movie on t.v., I think it was kindergarten cop with arnold. we don't stay long and then we head back to catch the opening band, dopheous. they play their songs and then when they say thanks and "we've got one more" they go into a twenty minute version of young man blues. there's a small crowd gathering and then granpa's ghost get's on to play, it's the first show with jack their drummer. they are a funny band because every night they sound so different, loud drones to soft folk songs and tonight they are a rock band not too far removed from crazy horse. I stand in front and soak it in. jack adds another dimension to the ghost's multi-sided sound. after they're done we do our's and and the people come to the stage and help us with their energy.

   after the show we pack up and say goodbye to top cat's and go over to adam's. I get on the futon by the door, under the fan and go to sleep.

from jer:

   I get up and find that steve has already left and amy is taking off so were left to fend for ourselves in the house. mike takes some time to put up the last weeks diaries and deal w/some web stuff. I call kel and check on things at home. I've gotta get a new china cymbal to replace the one bought in n.y.c.. it's only 1 week old and broken. there's a sam ashe music about 10 mins. away and I should be able to get another for nothing. mike needs a case for the new eden amp he'll be getting in minneapolis so two birds w/one stone. the guys working the counter at the sam ashe are very helpful and I receive a new china w/no trouble. after mike buys his case were on the road again. I called ahead to cinci to leave adam (friend and man w/the crash pad) a message to ask if he'd meet us at the club and take me to guitar center. I want to replace my shredded hardware bag as well. we arrive at top cat's about an hour and a half later than expected and adam is waiting. I get my laundry going and hop into his car for the ride. it's a 25 min. ride to the mall w/the shitar center. we rap about bands and traveling round the country. he hopes to make a trip to the west coast soon and I'll do my best to make it out for the show. at the store I try what I can to get a free replace on the bag, but I'm only able to work a discount. the drum guy throws in 3 pairs of sticks to ice the deal and I leave happy. the cinci guitar center comes through again. we grab a bite then head back to town. outside the front of the club I meet jack the drummer for the ghosts who just flew in this morning. w/that we load in and set up for the check. all goes well and I get some chimp time in near the back area.

   watching the openers play I find the music not overly compelling. they do play a version of the who's young man's blues. it's an epic. next the ghosts play and what a totally different set I hear. much more rock w/jack on the skins. I like it. were up now and the crowd is great. they enjoy the set and I'm pumped to jam. we've been trying a new set out, but forget the list tonight. back to the old one once again. it's goes well and smooth w/o too many clams. it's a little hot on stage from the weather, but nothing like florida. after a rousing encore we start to breath again. I break down the kit and snatch a drink at the bar. adam is hanging and helps w/the gear. some drunk kook that appeared here on the last tour has returned and approaches me on stage. "hey man are you the drummer?" he says. "yes I am bro" I reply. "give me some skin man" (holding out his hand) "you fucking asshole man, slap me some skin!" I look at him like what's up? he continues w/the bogus drunk fuck rap and I get sick of the shit. "hey bro you need to get off the stage before you wreck the equipment" I say w/authority. he turns and stumbles over our merch bag making his way to the edge of the stage. the jerk almost falls off and I let it go. we help the ghosts as they help us w/the gear. outside the drunk makes his way down the street I a total stupor. good luck man, you'll need it.

   adam hops in the boat for the ride to his house. I musta got a ride to the gig and left his car at home. at the pad I grab some pieces of clothes that didn't get cleaned today and start a wash in the basement. the others are already asleep and I wait up to toss them in the dryer. right after that I hit the couch and fall hard to konkland.

from watt:

   pop and hose off up stairs. I'm tempted to soak in the tub like my last visit but it took quite a long time for the tub to fill. the tininess of the flow from the shower head is no problem, there's enough to wash off the suds. I go back down steve's taking jordan to school. the young man shakes the hand of the weird and older bass man. mucha suerte to you, jordan and thank you, steve. I lay down for a bit to think. my hands throb. damn, fortieth straight gig tonight. maybe I should be calmer w/the pounding? I wonder how much more my hands can take? I wonder how much more the little bass can?

   amy comes down and fries me some eggs and veggie sausage. it's good. we get talking about things. I tell her about the diary beginning to have a life of it's own, where it seems that maybe people I meet are maybe conscious of appearing in it and that might change their behavior around me. I would like the diary to be a way for people to be on tour w/me, inside my head and seeing out of my eyes and not so much some sort of springboard for them consciously acting for it. people are themselves and that makes impressions on me, I think that's honest. it's not reality tv, it's mike watt's tour spiel. he is a filter unto himself and this is his story. I do put what I think are facts in it but like last night, before I konked - what am I remembering exactly and what's mangled? I want to be not so self-conscious about the whole process since, as you can probably see, I'm pretty much self-conscious regarding mike watt and his nut-out life. amy makes a good point. she likes the idea of someone older, doing punk and going off on stage and w/their life. she says she wishes more women were doing that. she's got a gig saturday and it's pretty scary for her - it's a band she hasn't played w/much. it's opening for the gossip at little brother's. she's in her late twenties and though she has a family (steve and jordan), she thinks what I'm doing is ok. this strikes me as genuine, not saying stuff for the diary. she doesn't read any more into it, more it's like maybe this what I'm about. I do meet more and more people like this - folks who have "regular" parts in society but can get into expression too. I don't see why there has to be such divisions and meeting folks like steve and amy only proves you can be all kinds of things at the same time. it might not be such a crazy idea. tom comes in the kitchen and we talk about roles in life on a even more basic level, like being boys and being girls. I asked my friend richard about therapy and what's crazy and he says a lot of that comes down to mommy and daddy shit. thinking about that and then the roles society has for mas and pops versus the personal relationships they form w/their kids, the "right" way and what not. my sisters sometimes tell my ma she could've been a better ma, they even get mad at her. I try to tell them that she was probably doing the best job she could at the time. there comes a point of diminishing returns w/this blame stuff. maybe you can discover how things might be working w/some kind of depression or problem by looking back at your earlier days and your ma and pop but to blame all your now days stuff on old days and let that immobilize you from taking action now can be lame if you really want things better. maybe not solved but better, a way of taking responsibility so you can do something about it and not be doomed or helpless. figuring out things is not fixing things - you should see many examples of that in my diary! it seems lots of roles set up by society for family are pretty weirded out. pops and their daughters, mas and their sons. strange to talk about, so much swept under superficial rugs and glossed over w/puffed up chests and images full of fluster. no wonder the stuff on stage seems so unreal. we don't have means hardly to reflect this in our arts or the nerve to face it. we want rigorous parts to play out far away acts of power, churches w/perfect priests. oh man... amy says she's got two good men though who aren't afraid to be themselves (steve and jordan) and bust out of stupid role playing. she said once in class there was power outage or something and no one knew what to do - awkwardness, then jordan just started singing! doing gigs can be good. best of luck saturday, amy.

   we look for a music store that we can hit on the way out of town, jer finds one on the phone where he can trade a china cymbal that lasted less than a week. I can get a case too for the new amp I'm gonna get in minnesota. I get some strings too. we head on south on the I-71 to cinci. only an hour and a half ride. tom and jer tell me about them going to chow last night and coming right on a confrontation between some guy w/a knife and someone w/a chain. it was pretty crazy. jer said tom walked right by the guy w/the knife w/out even knowing it! this is a trip cuz tom told me this morning about having a dream where he was stabbed. damn. rain comes up and dumps on us near the end of the drive. there goes our tiny dry spell! we head up to vine street, where the gig is at a pad called top cat's but go up the street a bit to take the little bass into a guitar place called mike's music. mike takes it to work on while we do our wash across the road at sudsy malone's, a place I've played many times but the guy who did them w/me, dan, doesn't do them there anymore. I did say we did our wash there - it's a laundromat besides being a bar. while stuff is drying, I get a cappacola sandwich a few doors away at the submarine galley. damn, is it huge for $3.25! adam, the cat who had us stay at his pad last tour, comes by to take jer on a quest to get a new hardware sack. his is ripped up pretty big time and is barely being held together now by duct tape. thanks, adam. ben from grandpa's ghost tells me steve mccellan called from minnesota. he's doing all three of my gigs there. it'll be my first time in duluth and saint paul. he's telling me about what's ahead, how he's going to prep the duluth gig later today. he says phil harder and rick fuller, two cats who made a great video of "walking the cow," (the best video ever that fIREHOSE did) want to film our whole minnesota trip - meet us at the border w/wisconsin and start it there, shoot everything. that should be a trip, sure.

   I get the little bass from mike, he put a bezel around the jack and hopefully that'll hold but I don't know - kind of shaky. we load our clothes in the boat and head for top cat's. vicki, the boss, is there and tells me some bad news: she's got cancer. fuck. she says she's just coming to terms w/it today and it's ok w/her. I'm gonna play for her tonight. we do soundcheck w/joe and it seems the little bass is ok. the amp is sounding worse and worse though. damn. I walk to the store a little ways away and get some cherry sours but they call them "michigan cherries" here. they look and taste the same. funny. I go to the boat to chimp diary and then konk. I wake up for a bit to hear rain on the boat's roof, what a trippy spring this is. I konk again and wake when tom gets me for the gig. vicki had to bail cuz bobby, who works there was slashed w/a knife in the face and she took him to the hospital. fucking violence. due to konk, I missed dolpheus and the ghost which makes me a little mad cuz the ghosts now have a drummer, jack, w/them. I'm interested to hear them as a three piece, not that the duo wasn't happening - I dug that.

   we start our set, I'm playing this one for the bosslady, vicki. we went back to the old set list since my guys didn't dig the list I made last night and I konked w/out making a new one. can't stress how important it is I get shuteye on tour, just is imperative. I can try a new list tomorrow. I have a little nerve tonight, I can actually look out at the crowd a little more and play for them. tom and jer too. I get real close on jer and play right against his drum kit. this is what happens when I get some confidence up. tom's close too and this is the way I like it best, when we're really tight and bunched up, like were three parts of one organism. I can flow better w/my guys this way and don't feel detached or isolated, you know, alone-like. even though it's billed as "mike watt and the..." I am still a bass person and feel greatly that duty: to look good by making my cats look good. I feel really good about my guys, they do great. when we do "little doll" and I extend out the end, some guy keeps saying to me, "talk dirty to me, mike - talk dirty." this is kind of weird and I try hard to tune him out - shit, I almost want to laugh but this is really important to me and I don't break the spell the tune has me in. this is kind of amazing for me to be this strong but the tune is powerful on me. I think I'm also getting better at holding my own and holding true to the song's course. I can do it in "walking the cow" and "chinese firedrill" too. these are a little ones where folks can talk right over us if they're so inclined to be (or you could say, rude enough). in pittsburgh, these two guys were standing right in front of me, talking about each other's tattoos while I did "...cow" and I didn't say anything 'til the song was over. in fact, I told them that's why I play those soft ones. they felt a little embarrassed. I think it's important I develop a discipline this way cuz one person can hijack a whole gig (note the jacksonville entry on this tour). it might be just too much alcohol. by the way, there's a little a problem w/that. when we finish and I'm slinging, one cat takes a t-shirt and then, as him and his buddy are trying to count out money, they just walk away. ok, you ripped one off of watt - I will take the blow. I could kind of tell what was going to happen when the guy was so bleary eye that he missed grabbing the shirt a couple times. some nice man offered to pay for but I told him it was ok, these things happen. another man is really borracho and wants me to drink a shot he bought but I tell him I just can't. he's offended. oh dear. later, outside while we're loading up, he gets abusive w/jer - he gets manic w/vacillating between "I love you" and "I hate you" stuff. it's kind of pathetic. I'm not saying I'm better than these people but it's just kind of sad how this chemical can affect things sometimes. maybe it gets more obvious when you stop drinking yourself, I don't know.

   adam piles in the boat w/us and we head over to his pad in norwood (or "nortucky" as he calls it). the wet cold makes my joints ache hard. damn. jer gives me some of that oil he uses on his soreness. I feel hundreds of years old. adam brings me his cat but she's scared of the new smells. some cats are that way. I can accept it. down w/the mask, watt and out w/the light in your head. bury the aches w/sueno.

saturday, may 25, 2002 - chicago, il

from tom:

   we wake and have food that adam makes and get in the van to drive through the state of indiana to chicago. we hit some weather as we drive, strong wind and some rain and jerry sleeps through the entire state. there's a lot of farm land in indiana and I can tell that it must be pretty once you get off the highway. even so we take pictures as we drive north to document the changing scenery. by the time we get to the double door it's a little chilly but not raining and we have some time get situated. grandpa's ghost shows up and with a trailer it's hard to park in chicago. we adjust the van so they can park and we help them load. I call my friends john, doug and casey and invite them to the show tonight. after loading in we set up and start to get our sounds and realize mike's bass is still screwed up so we try to fix it but cannot. the jack is still busted. bill lends us his bass and we go on with the check, but soon mike notices that one of his speakers is torn so we stack two of grandpa's ghost's fender cabinets and bend with it through soundcheck. this tour is taking it's toll on the equipment, and without the ghost's help we would be ampless tonight.

   chicago is a great city and I always like coming through but I would like to come and stay for a while again too. for now I'm glad to be here to play and maybe see a couple friends. after souncheck jerry and I get some food and walk down to john's recording studio where he's working on a new record with his (one of his) band the sea and cake. we get to the studio and it's beautiful. there's too much stuff to even try to describe and it sounds great. soon doug shows up and we sit and talk for a while and after a drink next door at the rainbo club we walk with doug back to the double door and go down to our room and hang for a little while longer.

   in a bit the first act, last vegas starts to play and hear cow bell and organ comong down from upstairs, kind of rockin'. when I peak upstairs I see a lot of hair too and an odd mix of people in the crowd. the double door has always been like this with us though, a wide range of different bands and people. the grandpa's ghost's go on and play a driving set and at the end some guy goes up on stage during a drone sustained song and does some kind of free spoken beat poetry thing that was wild and annoying and finishes by saying "thank you for not beating me up." the club is pretty full by the time we go on and wven though mike isn't playing his own bass we have a good show and play a long encore at the end. it was fun but we have to work out set a little bit differently I think. after we play some guy shakes my hand and I swear it looked like david copperfield.

   we continue packing and I say goodbye to doug and noel and we go with deb to her place in a warehouse. we position the van in a garage and go upstairs. her place is a converted space with a few bedrooms and a big living area with a kitchen, really cool. we sit with her roommate mike and a friend named brent and let the energy wear off a little and then I get on a couch and go to sleep.

from jer:

   I have a tough sleep on adam's smaller than me couch. should'da got on the floor when the tossing started. I hop in the shower and chow some grub adam fixed up. downstairs I retrieve my clothes from the dryer and pack up my stuff in the boat. it's a quick so long to adam and were off. I take the bench seat and konk fast. my sleep lasts the entire state of indiana. I wake near gary on the south shore of lake michigan. chicago is only 45 miles out and we encounter very little in the way of traffic as we enter the city outskirts. not normal for this part of the country, but it is a holiday weekend. we pass the tall buildings of downtown and find our exit. mike gets some parking in front of the double door and we all scatter in separate directions. solo time is always welcome after a long haul. I grab a hot chocolate and return to the club. the door is open and we discharge the gear. the ghosts have arrived and I help along w/tom to get their gear in the club. the sound guy mike shows up and monitor cat jesse help to get things running. the p.a. check by mike takes like two hours and I'm glad to finally start checking. watt gets out his bass and finds the input jack is totally screwed up. after trying for some time to repair the damage its concluded that mike will use bill's jazz bass. after having been on the 3/4 scale gibson for so long it'll be a challenge tonight for the boss. now everything but the head is broken. along w/tom using the ghosts fender twin I might as well be pounding on jack's drum kit and leave our gear in the boat for ballast. the check gets done and tom and I hit up a mexican joint a block down. this time its real mexican far from mexico. tom has a friend w/a studio less than a mile away and we make the trek to have a gander. john is the owner cat and tom's other friend doug from the band tortoise meets us soon after. it's a great studio located near the city center. we listen to some work in progress and chat some w/the folks there. having a problem w/their toilet I come to the rescue and repair the leak. no charge. doug suggests a drink next door at the rainbo room and we ablidge. they talk about the music scene as I think about home and family that I miss so much. sometimes I can't relate to talk of bands I don't recognize. I feel so out of the loop when it comes the music knowledge not going out to see bands as much or buying records on a regular basis. playing the drums is just something I've done for so long now it's a normal part of my life. I tell the others we should return so I can rest before we play the gig. back at the double door I grab my labtop and go down to the green room for chimping time. random folk come and go while I type in the corner. I keep mostly to myself.

   I can hear the openers last vegas start to play and decide to stay put in the room. the ghosts label owner joe carduchi briefly greets me as they talk amongst themselves. when I hear the first band is through I head upstairs and watch the ghosts for a few minutes. my tired body tells me to sit a while and conserve energy for the show. tom finds me when they finish and I return to the stage for the performance. after setting up my gear I hear my name being called from the crowd. it's twitch from pedro! he used to be a d.j. in the universal family, a band I still jam w/back home. he's been living here for about 2 years now and I forgot all about him. I tell'em we'll talk after the show is over. we get started and I can tell right off that mike I having some trouble playing the big bass. he's not looking at me for cues. I try to play hard so he'll feel a strong beat to latch onto. the struggle lasts the entire set and mike really has done his best to overcome the difficulty of this night. the encore has some extra spark as mike digs in for the last couple songs. when it's all over I feel a good show was done. I see twitch on the side of the stage a rap some while getting a drink. another fan named tom asks if mike could use a extra bass he brought for him. it turns out to be a 3/4 scale danelectro. I tell his to talk to mike at the stage. this could be a show saver. twitch offers to help w/my gear and I hand the stuff to him off stage. I find out that while in chicago he's become a smut peddler for some internet sex thing. what a change from the pedro days. I want to go out a hang for the night w/him, but I'm tired and don't even know where were staying tonight. mike's pal deb is here and we'll be at her loft somewhere nearby, the whereabouts I don't know.

   outside we pack up and I take a minute to say later to twitch. he gives me a business card and I'll contact his from the road or home. maybe we'll meet in vegas or somewhere in the future. great to see ya bro. after all is in we board the boat and deb gives directs to her building. if I was to try to tell twitch where to pick me up to go out he would never find this place. good thing I'm tired and not in the mood for an all nighter. deb opens the roller door to the garage and mike makes a 17 point turn getting the boat in. we ride up the elevator and enter the loft. it's a huge room that has four bedrooms built round a main center. what a great pad. I have a drink at their bar w/deb's roomy mike and a friend. I peek into deb's room for a quick tour and find it very humble. lots of books, a work desk, huge closet totally packed and a nice loft bedroom. wish I had this pad in pedro. I take the futon in the main room and soon find my dreams.

from watt:

   pop and hose off. I want a completely new outfit for tonight's show in chicago. I was conceived in that town and want to be fresh for the gig there tonight. I just go out of the head w/the old outfit in my arms, I pass adam in the kitchen who's fixing us up chow. into the boat and I fill the stench bag w/the first batch of soiledness since yesterday's wash. I get into the new outfit - I choose one of my favorite flannels to wear. this one's got lots of the stuff I like: the yoke, the pearloid snaps, the bias on the pockets - the only thing really missing is a little white in the plaid so you can walk into a club w/black lights on and feel like madonna. oh well - hard to find everything in one shirt. I do dearly love this one though. the ensemble is complete w/fresh levis, socks and skivvies. I go back into the pad and adam gives me some cof. I get a plate and take a pile of scrambled eggs and bell peppers he's made. I shovel them down w/tortillas and some trippy kind of chili sauce that's a yellow-brown color. it's good though. I go back to the living room and wake my guys cuz we're leaving early. thanks much, adam - nine bells and we're out.

   we take some laterals to get over to I-74. we see a pretty funny thing, this cat has a beat up van that's got tires of different sizes on and it's veering all over the road. this ride is stuffed to the gills w/junk, you can see it through the windows. it's one of those dodge rams w/the big single rear door (like the minutemen one) and there's so much shit onboard, that rear door can't close all the way so this guy's got a single bungie cord from the rear pasenger-side wheel well to the door's handle. it must be open like four or five inches. pretty scary sitch so I pull the boat around and ahead of this potential nightmare. as we pass him, we see the reason for the veering - he's on a cell phone! too much... we're west across the border into indiana and we head northwest. jer's konked in the back - he stayed up late to do another load of wash in adam's basement. tom's up front w/me and we're doing a pastime we enjoy much on tour, having fun w/were words and phrases. tom is quite creative and very funny. tom makes tour fun besides being great alongside on stage. this is quite important cuz you spend many hours on tour w/each other not on stage. it's very happening to have a great rapport w/your tour mates. the hills of cincinatti and the region around the ohio river level off into farmland prairie. tom guides me around indianapolis, lots of construction and we have to improvise. damn, the rain of last night disappeared this morning and we had sun but that's gone now. we got dark clouds and the wind's blowing hard from the port. we go around the east side of town cuz it's memorial day weekend and the indy 500 is happening on the other side. a weird thing happens: an ambulance is coming on the freeway, lights and sirens going and what's behind it? four assholes chasing it in their cars so they can use it to run interference and get through traffic. some people, sheesh... the plug really starts to build up but just in time, here's the I-65 and we leave the traffic mess and onward north towards gary. the boat's getting buffeted pretty hard w/wind and rain comes down on us w/big drops, man has the sky grown dark. we break through though near gary and the heavy dark improves to light gray. man, what a trippy spring. we stop in gary for gas and there's a charity table selling dogs so I chow one. then it's east through industrial toilet land on the I-90. over the illinois border and we find the traffic pretty light, not much plug which is a trip for this part of town. maybe cuz it's saturday and the weather's so yuck, huh? you can smell the wet in the air and the temp has really dropped. of course - it's spring! so trippy about that this tour. we gain an hour cuz we've crossed a time zone. goodbye eastern standard time...

   easiest entry into the windy city almost ever for watt. there's a parking space reserved for us right in front of the double door, where we're playing tonight. that's pretty happening to have done for you, truly a blessing. there's a chow pad nearby and I go get some soup and a salad. I don't know what kind of soup this is but I know it's got a bunch of onions. I get a visitor who kindly gives me two cartons of pear nectar, a bottle of lecithin and some glasses that have "tom and jerry" printed on them. very nice, thank you. I go to the venue and set up for soundcheck w/front man mike and monitor man jesse - both nice cats. so is martin, the light guy. I don't get to meet many light guys but I always let them interpret us the way they see us. so trippy how you're just one part of the gig. these other three cats I've just mentioned really are a big part of the gig too. what's really a trip is that lots of these cats haven't even heard what you do sometimes and they have such a vital role to play! that's why it's important to have a good rapport w/them and let them feel inspired so they can help out the best they can. I have very much respect for these essential people. we are only like a motor, they are the transmission, axles and wheels. anyway, I'm checking out my bass setup. I'm using my amp but bill and ben's fender bass cabs that have two twelve inch speakers each. I got the amp on two to make sure no damage comes there was. problem though w/the little bass. the sound keeps cutting out. guess that repair job from mike's in cincinatti is already coming undone. the jack just isn't secure. I even had problems last night w/the cord coming out (imagine sleeping w/someone and having a similar problem - very frustrating) and no bass 'til I got it back reinserted. now besides the male-female jacks have a shitty fit, there's noise up the yang and barely any signal - the little bass is out of the race. I ask bill if I can use their bass, it's a 70s fender jazz w/dimarzio active pickups. damn. well, not a full-on damn cuz I got bill here to help me out but this is gonna be the second gig in this town, the town of my conception, where I gotta work a foreign machine. even more than that, it's a full-scale bass, where I only play these mostly sitting down - I use the little bass for all my live things cuz it's way easier on my hands. I've let come to inspire me much too. I like the way it's little and lays into me, very natural. my hands have gotten sore over the years and just can't make the stretches I used to be able to w/a machine slung over my body and the little gibson helps me out so much w/that. the other foreign thing about this fender is that action is setup really low so I can't really get physical on it like I can w/the little one. a much different realtionship appears to be in the making. I just want to weather this storm and get my eb-3 fixed tomorrow. tonight will be a halfass in the meantime. soundcheck w/this bass is all dink-dink, like hitting a metal pipe w/a monkey wrench - not really my sound. I like more of a growl and a little nasal honk. whatever, I will deal w/this. thanks again, bill and ben.

   there's a little mexican chow pad by the boat so I get two carne asada tacos. authentica! chicago has a huge latin community and it reminds me of home. true comdias familia here - none of that phony taco bell shit. real good and real econo, the best of both worlds. I go to the boat and konk hard. it's cold so I wrap in blankies. I'm out good though. for some reason, I pop almost near the end of the local opener's set, they're called the last vegas. I hear maybe the last minute of them and it's mainly kick drum coming through the bulkhead here. there's a rapping at the chamber door, it's deb and two of her buddies. it's hard for to talk w/them cuz I'm coming out of such a deep konk so I excuse myself (well, I just shut the hatch) and chimp diary while grandpa's ghost plays. can't hear them much, I think they're playing at a much lower level than the first band. I gotta check these cats out now that they're jamming as a trio w/a drummer. tom comes and gets me for our turn. oh boy, here goes...

   bill's got the strap really high on this bass so I got to lower it down. still kind of too high. we're trying a new set list order tonight and it's kind of strange, not much of a momentum builder at the beginning. it's really difficult to work this machine for me being so used to the little one. I blow some clams early so I decide to be very conservative. this is a hard stage to work too - the bass bins are underneath and bogart much of the high end and mids. I can't hear tom hardly at all and jer sounds pretty tiny as well. the singing has like a pillow over the monitors. I stand pretty much still and hardly open my eyes. I have to admit I'm kind of embarrassed about this gig - it almost feels like a recital or some kind of prac instead of going off for people. the neck on this bass is much wider too. the way for me to work is so much less physical than what I'm used to - I can liken it to maybe being a baseball pitcher and trying to wail a pitch down the pipe w/out a windup or even bring your arm up from behind your head - almost like pushing it from your chest, what mean people at gym in school would say, "throwing like a girl." I feel very neuter and asexual about the whole gig and like under a microscope. it makes me very insecure and w/no confidence whatsoever. scary. hard, hard gig but I have to say the folks in the crowd are true sweethearts, they are very giving w/the niceness, very. we do more than a few encore songs for them. you know, at the beginning of the set, I told them that this was a hard gig but "a poor carpenter blames his tools" but it's more words here cuz in my head, I keep blaming the tools. lots of times, watt has ideals and then his reality, which is where he's trying to climb up from. I really want machines in their place and not hold such sway. in a way, music is a way machines can be coaxed into relaying human spirit - their most vital incarnation. to use them as an excuse crutch is weak. oh well. when we're finish, lots of talking and meeting w/the peeps as I sling. I get a care package w/some backwoods, chex mix (journey chow?) and a one pocket flannel. thank you. however, I you cuz of my peculiarities regarding these fine clothing articles, I donate this shirt to a man who's already wearing a one pocket one and obviously doesn't mind getting another one. no disrespect here for the cat who was so generous w/the heart. I could've said nothing about the donate but I thought it'd be better about being honest incase he's wondering why sometime down the line, he'll never get to see watt wear it on stage. lo siento, amigo. a young man gives me his dog collar bracelet, thank you! this cat tim, a friend of joe carducci's, offers to go home a bring me his dan electro long horn bass - it's one w/a short scale. damn, what a charitable man! pretty overwhelming. he goes and brings it back - wow, thank you so much. I'll bring it along next tour so he can get it back. I also get a coltrane cd tom left last tour. lots of good donate. lots of good spirit too, these folks are so kind. one yong man says I helped him w/my opera when a friend died. this touches watt much. I forget about all my self-absorption regarding not having the right machine and being able to let go the way I usually do. that seems so insignificant now after hearing these words from this man.

   we pack up and I settle up w/the bosslady bobbi - she says she had a dan electro bass she could've brought before we went on so I could've done the gig w/it! maybe I was supposed to be in that difficult situation, to learn me - a character builder. god, it was a hard situation but I think about having all the right tool stuff in this tour and still finding the gigs a total hellride - that cuz of the broken things in my head! watt, you will never have it together, you and the world are just friction - both the real world and your imagined one. so be it. struggle I must cuz nothing it seems will ever come easy. hey, that's not my lot. like syd barrett once said, "I'm resigned to my fate, it's not unkind."

   we've been invited to stay w/deb and her room mates in this industrial area not too far away. very trippy how so much solitude can be so close to so much social loud and crazy. even the ride there is insane w/traffic all whack. I just stay patient and we take our time getting there. we gotta down this long, long alley where the puddles are like a moat. they're up on the third floor and you take this industrial elevator. a great pad opens up to us when we enter - a giant open space w/many couches and tons of art. I meet deb's friend ben and he talks about last seeing me ten years ago in cincinatti. alright, it's good to know that you can change up enough to have folks still curious to see what you're like in the now. I find a couch that has an excellent fit for watt and his konk sack. I talk some from it. I talk about how working a bass for me is kind of like riding a skateboard - how do you just stand there and ride it all calm, it seems to me you really have to throw your body into it. it's the way I've always approached bass and that's one reason tonight's gig made me so uncomfortable. I know it had something to teach me though. working a bass like you're riding a skateboard - I'm not trying to sound infantile, it's just the way I like it, what seems natural. I'm a fucking go-off. now it's time for me to shut off. I hear lots of spiel but I must let go and konk.

sunday, may 26, 2002 - madison, wi

from tom:

   in the morning deb and roommate mike get some breakfast going and I get cleaned up and try to get in touch with doug to see about getting mike's bass fixed before leaving chicago. doug tries to get in touch with friend of his who does repairs and in the mean time before eating I cut jerry's hair. it's a beautiful day out side and and after a fabulous breakfast we go on the roof of the building and get a 360 degree view of chicago and take some pictures. we decide to go to a guitar center to get parts for the bass ourselves and stop by my friend casey's place to do the repair job. it works! hooray. we stop at deb's again and say thanks and goodbye and get on the road to madison. it was really nice to meet deb and have a little time to spend before shoving off.

   we played this club last fall and we get there with no problems and load. after checking jerry and I watch the end of the lakers kings game and the lakers win it at the buzzer with a 3 point shot. it's going to be a good show. it's only us and granpa's ghost tonight which is nice.

   it finally gets dark and there are about 75 people inside to see the ghosts play and when we get on there's probobly twice that. it's a dead sounding stage but we pull it together and rap it up and load it out and pack it up and head over to mike's friend bucky's place to sleep. I make myself comfortable on a futon and say goodnight and just before drifting off I lay there and think of home.

from jer:

   I wake in the morning and take a shower. I ask deb if she's got any hair shear's for doing my 'doo' and w/the yes tom agrees to cut my mop. deb's roomy mike starts in on breakfast as tom snips away. I'm tentative as to how well he can do the job, but after looking in the mirror I'm satisfied w/the results. mike's food is excellent and we all shovel up as much as possible. deb mentions the view from the roof and we trot upstairs to get a eyeful. the 360 deg. view is great and I can see almost all of chicago w/o any obstructions. we get some snaps and climb back down the ladder to escape the city. tom mentions a friend of doug's that might be able to help w/the little bass repair. after a call we roll the boat out and go to the shitar center for some parts. doug's friend casey lives nearby and we stop to use the solder gun for the fix up. success! the little bass lives. we thank casey and return to deb's to drop her off. she's been very sweet and I can't wait to hang w/her next time were in town. the drive out of town takes us northwest to madison through some pretty farm country. I take the snap seat and get some nice shots of the drive view. I try to chimp, but the road is too bumpy for typing. in about 3 hours we arrive in madison. the manager tell me we can load right away and opens the back door. the ghosts have already arrived and are waiting for us to check. soundguy john is setting up and we check fast. the stage here is totally dry which makes the sound kinda cruddy. we do what we can, for that's what we do. I order some cheese curds from the kitchen and share w/the ghosts. after the check I wander into the bar and use the phone to call kel. the laker's game is in the fourth quarter and their behind by about 10 points. as I rap w/kel the game gets closer and w/time winding down the laker's have the ball w/11.8 secs. remaining. the score is 90 to 92 in favor of the sacto kings. kobi gets the ball and misses from 8' then shaq has it from 2' and shanks it. vlade of the kings bats it outside and horry grabs the slop. he shoots from beyond the arch and sinks the 3'er w/0 on the clock. RIGHT ON LAKERS! I scream in the phone and kel is thrilled. it's gonna be a great show. I ask bar manager brad for some chow and we fill out the menu. after eating I head downstairs to rest up for the pounding.

   I listen to the ghosts from below and try to snooze in a chair. tom is there as well and we wait patiently. when they finish I go out to the boat and find the boss chimping in the back. I return to set up and we get the show going. the sound is all lame. I only get cymbals and guitar squeal piercing my cranium. yuck! no matter how hard I hit it sounds tiny. only a few clams and a comment from mike that I'm not driving enough in the jammy tunes. we do a long encore and the crowd is pleased. w/the show done I rap w/a few kids that drove up from illinois for the night. they ask if we need help w/the gear and I thank them for the use of their arms.

   I meet a fan named john who brought some fruit and 'gars for us. the kids get all the gear including the ghosts stuff out of the club in record time. I thank them all and wish 'em a safe journey back home. the cat were supposed to stay w/is nowhere in sight. luckily mike had a standing offer to stay w/old pal bucky very close by. we find the pad on the map and mike knocks on the door. bucky answers and is happy to have us. girlfriend twee wakes and joins in on some chat before napping. I find a small bed in the living room and fall asleep while the others continue w/the yammer.

from watt:

   pop and hose off. trippy light you turn on for the shower. like a loft thing in nyc, everything here is handmade to fit in an empty floor in what used to be an industrial space. deb's room mate mike makes some righteous chow, a giant omelette that everyone gets pieces from, potatoes chunks w/onions and toast. it's all really good - thanks, mike. it's sunday so I call my ma, she says everything's ok back in pedro and w/my sisters. she wants to know about my health and everything, end of the sixth week of tour and all - hell, she always wants to know that and it's understood. I reassure her I'm well and things are going well. she reads the diaries and knows I'm my neurotic self but is glad I'm pushing on. it'll be good to have her cook me some of her chow when I get back, always is. love to you, ma.

   deb's office is a trip, filled w/tons of neat stuff - very unique space. she's got a revolving rack of books and asks me to take one so I get alexis de tocqueville's "democracy in america." there's that infamous picture of the agent w/the goggles, helmet and gun w/his finger off the trigger asking for that elian boy (remember, the one who's pop wanted him back after he survived an escape attempt from cuba his ma took him on w/her boyfriend?) on her wall. whoa, turns out this agent is deb's bro - now that's a trip. we go onto the roof of this building and look at the chi-town. you can see the whole downtown from here, it's so close but far enough away where you're not choking in it. the weather cleared up, it's pretty much like my town on a nice day - I can dig that. how much unlike spring this tour has been, huh? seems like a taste of it now though. I got a picture of my ma and pop in wallet - it was taken in this town in 1957, some months before I was born - my pop in his second class navy uniform and my ma in a fancy dress. I pull it out to look at it, here's the town they came together in to make me and now look at their boy, here again, the morning after trying to get a foreign bass (to him, anyway) to laugh and cry and now wondering about the tangled trails that lead to where one finds themselves, looking outside in. I put the picture back and look over the edge of the roof - I have vertigo and it makes me scared so I have to back off. I take their picture out again and have another look. they're still smiling their big smiles, maybe having a good laugh inside at their son of their sums. oh, dick and jean.

   we're going to the shithard center so I can search for parts to make the little bass whole again. we get there and a young man named barry offers to help me. he likes it that I call him "g" and we both laugh. he gets me a jack plate for a les paul and a three conductor quarter-inch phono jack. I get some strings too, what the fuck - I'm here. w/watt, you can never have too many sets of strings - especially heavy ones (the little bass uses 50-70-85-105 to keep them from sounding flabby cuz of the short scale neck). he asks for my name to put in the 'puter and is surprised to find it's me. he chirps "double nickels on the dime" and he says I look old, uh he says I look good for being old. I laugh and take a picture of us both (I got the digicamera w/me) and tell him I'll send it to him if he gives me his email. thanks, barry. we go to this cat casey's pad. the others go in while I use a hammer from the tool box to pound flat the jack plate straight, it's curved to fit the bottom side of a les paul. I go up to the pad and find that casey's a nice man, he's got a pro soldering iron and tools to help w/the surgery. he's got an amp to test the work when I get done too. I take off the control cover and clear enough of the broken wood away so I can get the jack to fit on the plate from the other side. I get the shielding foil to make good contact too. that done, I unsolder the old jack, one wire at a time and solder it to the new jack. I screw the plate to the front of the little bass w/the four screws that came w/it. I screw down the jack to the plate and replace the control cover. a test w/casey's amp and everything's well again - the little bass is back in the race! the jack plate is gold plated and looks a little boozh but what the fuck, I can now get it to sing again!

   we drop deb back off at her pad and thank her much. thanks, deb. then it's northwest on the I-94 and out of town. some plug cuz we have to go by o'hare airport but then we clear it and we're on our way to rockford, where we take the I-35 north the rest of the way up to madison. the weather's still nice - not just a taunt from the sun today! we get to the pad, the annex, just right for load in. that same rusted-out van by the sidedoor that was here last time is still here, wow. while soundman john sets things up, I chow a broiled chicken salad at the grill and say hi to the owner mike. he doesn't recognize me at first, wonders if I work w/mike watt. I tell him, "sometimes." we both then have a laugh. I like tripping people out w/the stealth identity though I have to say it's not that intentional. we soundcheck and then I'm to the boat for some chimping and konk.

   first though, I'm greeted by some young men. one, ryan, has a book for me, a biography on charles mingus by. there's some chili pepper and a 'gar from a friend too. I say thank you and get in the boat. I open the barbie purse (ibook) to chimp but stop cuz of some wondering to myself. so I'm thinking about individualism and some problems I'm having w/chimping this diary. there are folks in my life like raymond who have a strong sense of identity and a will to express their vision and inner voice despite what others may say or think. this fires me up much. I sense no display of arrogance or contempt in this boldness, rather I gain a confidence around them to also speak my mind and explore my ideas, it's hard for me to find the words to put this exactly so but hopefully, one may understand my intentions. raymond has instilled such a courage in me. there are others too... w/this in mind, I think the tour spiel contained within these chimpings maybe should not be filtered so w/a timidness reflecting a beatdown cuz of what others might think. my ma likes reading these so what the fuck? when I call her on sundays, she sometimes expresses worry for me as she reads the stress and fretting I'm having in my writings but then tells me that must be what's running through me on the hellride. I think she expects me not to pull punches and dress shit up. I mean, that's not the way I was brought up. I'm kind of proud to say I was brought up w/much plain speaking and not much tolerance for laying it on for appearances sake. "I am what I am," a great man once said (popeye?). if I am to be condemned, then let it be for what I said rather than for what I was afraid to say. the folks I look up to, would even call mentors (boon, pettibon, meltzer, etc.) have bold personalities, a wild streak and a color to their lives that makes them for me, stand head and shoulders over the herd. they are not afraid to show their heart or do they bow to window-dressing convention. they help put light in my eyes and coal for the boiler of the train in my head. this is a lot of what d. boon did for me those years we had together. so much of me is driven by the interaction of myself w/these most interesting, vibrant and singular of people - my story would be so much different w/out them in my life. it says a lot about who I am to see the things I do in them but how can I deny not being touched so by them? it says a lot about them. I should not suppress their effect but let it help me find what courage may be inside me and likewise find my voice. such trippy chain of events I find strange but exciting. I want to celebrate these people, thank them, try to stand up to great stature I see in them. they challenge me to be me, let the watt out - have him think about what he's saying and why but not be so afraid and ashamed - let the freak flag fly. I've decided I will chimp what I chimp in the diaries. case closed. easier to make up your mind when you have good advice to help you see what you feel is important. I chimp kind of furious and then konk deep - the pressure valve is released, huh?

   tom gets me for gig time. I somehow popped right before he popped the hatch, I had just came out of a huge nightmare and was so relieved to find it was just a nightmare. in the dream, I was taking us down the freeway in the boat when the freeway seem to split into two freeways, leaving us on a dirt road going between them. the road kept getting hillier and hillier, the wheels started to leaving the ground and then we up and went over the side, w/the boat just propped on a ledge enough to let me keep it balanced w/my arm hanging onto a branch coming out of the cliff's side. I got my guys to get out and then after about a half hour, I had to let go and jump through my window, letting the boat fall like a hundred or more down. I saw the boat hit the ground and roll around, all dented up. I somehow then saw the gear in the back of a moving truck trailer (how'd it get there?). I was fretting so bad - not knowing what to do, what was going to happen to the tour, stuff like that. I mean I woke up in quite a sweat, whoa. I grab my sack and head for the pad's door. bossman tom gives me a hand. there's a good crowd here and we try the set we used last night. you know what? I didn't like it last night and I'm hating it more now - why didn't I change it? I tell tom and jer this in between the first songs. man, am I doof. the stage is a hard one to work but for different reasons than last night, this stage is really dead and it feels like were wrapped up in cotton. the monitors are total muffle. tough, really tough but at least I got the little bass! god, what a difference as far as a physical thing w/my body and my hands on her. a lot more secure for me when I commit my moves. I can focus some torque too and dig down deep. wish I had my amp though - got be careful w/the grandpa ghost stuff and have to be a little tame w/the volume. not much punch or bottom where their old fender stuff but it beats being shit of luck and I'm very, very grateful to these nice saint louis cats. these madison folks are great to play for too, much respect from them so you know watt's passing it right back. my guys play really good, even w/the stage giving them tiny sounds. I had to move tom's monitors closer to me so he'd get tighter on me and jer - I love it when where clumped really close and winding it all the way up. glad the end of the set had some oomph cuz I really wanted to get things going. I do the encores up pretty crazy cuz of all the pent-up in me. I sling and talk w/the folks and get a great care package from the same cat who gave me this same stuff last year: crown prince 'dines, nicole's divine crackers and some chili sauce. thank you! tim thelen, luthier craftsman from des moines says hi - he's looking great in a big beard. he's going to make me a little neck for the "thelecaster" he's already made w/a thunderbird length one. this man asks me permission to use my name for his baby and I say I would be very honored. his lady appears a little bit later - whoa, baby is showing! maybe some vibes from the little bass that way, huh? what a sweet couple. love to you three!

   this man named john, who lent me a bass one madison gig when the little bass got left in iowa city ("enough w/the pissbag tour" w/the pair of pliers), invites us to konk at his pad. I still feel embarrassed about a little complaint spiel I did on stage when I found myself a little weak working it cuz the bottom line was I was and still am quite grateful to him for coming through for me. I settle w/bossman tom layton, an old friend who's had me here in town for many years. thank you, tom. whoa - bucky pope's here! one of my favorite guitarists, he had the tar babies back in the 80s - great band. he offers up the house him and his girl thuy (vietnamese, pronounced "twee") share w/room mate tim. I tell him this cat john has asked me but he gives me directs anyway cuz we can have a q (bar-b-q) tomorrow, milwaukee's only an hour and half away. we finish packing and I can't find john - what happened? this other john, a tall one, wants advice to get going - he just bought "book your own fucking life" which is a great resource. he can get a gig in green bay, that's somewhere I've always wanted to play - home of the norb. I wonder what happened to bass loaner john? damn. I tell this john to read the tour diaries to get the watt angle on touring. what is the easy way to shortcut organically growing a band? don't think there is one. you just gotta keep on keepin' on (thank you, john fogerty). I look all over for the potential host john and can't find him. oh well, I have directs to bucky's and we head over there, to east madison. we find the pad and it takes lots of knocks and doorbell rings but soon the buckster is at the hatch, inviting us. much respect to you, bucky. he just moved back here to madison after many years in san francisco, where I last saw him. I tell him I really want him to get another band going so we can tour together, can't wait. some friends of their's come by and we spiel some. actually, we were spieling before they came - well, I was giving a monologue regarding my sickness ordeal cuz bucky wanted to know the whole story. thuy has some medical knowledge was kind of weirded out by the whole tale but hung in there to hear it all. good thing I finished pretty much before the friends came so they didn't have to wretch w/the gross shit. it's weird talking about that hellride, I seem to relive it by putting the memories to words to try and describe it. no wonder it was hard doing those tunes (the new ones regarding this) the first five weeks of the tour w/pete. some little spiel about things but I'm out of gas and so is jer who's laid out near me. folks get the picture and leave us to konk. I think of pete after I pull my mask down. I already miss him much. thank god for tom though, he save the end part of the tour. I'm lucky to have all these cats to make music w/and thank my lucky stars. they shine on me, wherever I... are? slow the brain watt, let it go... let it take that train to sleepytown. sure is great to see bucky again. music has brought happening people into my life. whoa. a good thought to konk to... out, watt...

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this page created 30 may 02