"enough w/the piss bag" tour 2000 diary - week 4

mike watt and the pair of pliers

shot of the pliers in 2000

tom watson - guitar
vince meghrouni - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
(left to right)

steve kaul - the man outside the van

monday, october 2, 2000 - cincinnati, oh

from tom:

   we are playing in a new club this time in cinci, usually we do sudsy malones'. unfortunately they aren't having rock music there anymore so there goes our laundry stop. when we get in town we find top cats pretty easily, not for from sudsey's on vine street near the university. it's a nice sized bar with a very cool back patio area where I set up to do some writing. in time however we are doing our sound check and searching for food ritual and that goes alright, though nothing to write home about. when we get back to top cat's the first band is playing and the guitarist is really good and I stop to watch them play. soon though the bargain boys are back doing their rock and groove to a reserved but appreciative audience. I love them.

   our set goes progressivly better and better, and I feel a little stronger on drums too. after we play though I take a long step off the stage and smash my knee on the little step there. it hurts and I find some ice to slow down the bruise. other than that I had a blast. good night.

from vince:

   uncle ray takes us to eat chinese food. I have some greasy lo mein, ray some chinese vegetable and shrimp, watt has catfish, tom, "the special". we head to cincinatti to the grog shop, a first gig for watt there. sudsy malones, where we played last time, no longer has bands. vickie at the grog shop is really friendly and gracious.

   sound check features loud booming bass drum sound permeating the stage. we have it taken out, then I learn after we're done that there is a duplicate drum monitor cabinet in the back corner of the stage in addition to the one near me. it was on during sound check, blasting my monitor mix widely across the stage - diffuse, purposeless, muddying, muddling and cnfusing. it makes the hard walls that meet at it's corner of the stage like a big speaker cabinet with the monitor as the driver, creating a standing wave to boot. so during sound check my kick drum sounded as big as an oil tank with christo sized canvas on either side stretched being struck by thor's mighty war cudgel. and since I asked steve, our sound man, to shut off that corner monitor while we played, and now we've pulled the kick out of the monitor, I'm out of luck for kick in my monitor tonight. win some lose some. I'm in a playing slump right now. all the drums feel out of whack and muscles, joints and ligaments are stiff and sore. it's that point of the tour. it seems to go in peaks and troughs. right now it's trough. the trick is to win the mental and emotional battle and not let a mistake, stumble or uninspired moment set the tone for the rest of the set, and not let an off night screw up the next one. so much of it is state of mind it's ridiculous. I chimp on tom's laptop since I'm behind on diary entries, so I can't watch bargain music, who I really enjoy watching. tonight is a very rough night for me. we start the set with tv eye, and I'm keyed up when we start, so I'm playing it too fast. get gettin' down down is next, and not long into the tune I have a fast tempo drum solo, which is hard to pull off, and I don't do so well. I have no kick in the monitor, and not enough tom's. with mike and tom's amps pointing right at me, it's hard to hear low end and mid from my drums, so the floor tom (it's really rims mounted from a stand, but we'll follow convention) and kick get lost and I pound like crazy to hear them. then my arms go like rubber. after a tune like big bang, where I'm battering the tom's, or little man where I'm playing eighths and 16's on the hat at bop tempo's, my arms are blasted for a couple songs. when it's time to do the breaks in fear, for example, my fists become of ham, or perhaps I should say moreso than usual. so tonight I'm all hamhand and stumbleboy, rubber limbed, cornball and suckoutloud. and when it's my time to sing tunes, I'm not in the monitor at all, so delivery of the tunes are done by faith. and the tank is pretty low on faith right now. igor is done mime, as is blue mask. the other stuff has got me frustrated by the time these songs roll around, so I'm one uptight fellow at this point, doing things like yelling "fuck", or shaking my head during my drum solo in shah. we get through the set, and, taking a broader view, it's not too bad all in all, considering that in addition to my problematic microcosm, mike has been dealing with his own toy monitor hell. so our kind and forgiving audience asks us back for more tunes, and while we're out the door in conference before going back up, a guy comes up to us with macanudo's for each of us, the little ascots. they're a welcome change from the backwoods, and we light them up, then go out there and smoke them through the encore. I exhale clouds of blue smoke at well-timed moments in formal introduction. it's hard to play, sing and smoke the 'gar in all hands on the bad one, but I manage. it's not until we get to e-ticket ride, where I play sax, that I have to stash the stogey. I had told mr. sound man during soundcheck to bring the sax monitor to vocal level, but his actions seemed to indicate that he felt that the optimum volume setting for sax monitor was zero. after my first sax bit, I wished to join in the healthy on-the-job tete-a-tete over this difference of opinion, but whenever I looked and gesticulated towards the sound booth, mr. sound man was visible only in profile amidst a conversation with a young lady. I'm sure it was over the finer points of sound reinforcement. perhaps he was mentoring his young acolyte. after we're done I retrieve the remainder of my cheroot and enjoy it to the very nublet as I pack up.

   after the show we stay at adam shoen's, a bass player and good team man. he helps us with the gear, makes us feel at home and is a great guy to hang out with. his girlfriend has to get up very early, so we don't get to chat with her, but we do get a chance to say hi. adam's doggy is very friendly, and it's great to hang with another critter. I sit out on the porch, enjoying the night and the trees - a great one in adam's front yard, and adam comes out there and we have a good conversation. adam's getting into the road life with his band, homonculous (cool name says I) and he's discussing the crossroads he's at doing such a thing. he's a young man, and a thoughtful responsible fellow, so it's not easy to adopt the "who the hell knows what's next" attitude you sort of have to have to jump into something like that. his reasoning is that he might look back and regret not having tried if he takes the more conservative path. I agree with him. on the workaday tip, adam gives the bad news that the sound out front wasn't the greatest, p.a.-speakin'. it was muddy, and had the big arena kick drum sound. that kick sound ain't appropriate for the way the kick is played in this band. but some guys only know that way. they'd mix tommy lee, trilok gurtu or max roach the same way. eventually it's time to hit the sack and we all turn in.

from watt:

   pop and soak long in the tub. watt's being kind to his sore bones. get out and dried and uncle ray is up too. I start doing email as he relates to me all types of spiel. lots of pynchon info which I dig so much, tales of his past travels, living here in cleveland and in santa barbara. he can't stand the weather in cleveland, the winters here are tough. he tells me about the dead boys, who he knew and writing for creem magazine. neat stuff about lester bangs. uncle ray strikes me w/some of the things I like about some folks who were teens in the 60s - not much on materialism but way long on ideas. a man of concepts and such, these cats interest me much. my teen years were more in the 70s - I was born in '57 and things were starting to slide then into what they are now. it's wild how peckers like limbaugh and horowitz want to blame all the problems we got today on the 60s people and give them no credit at all for some of the good shit. I can't remember the name of the jerk who just wrote this book, "the long march" but he's into the same shrill game. that pecker even tries to lay the real blame on the beats in the 50s! for me, where things got going really wrong was the 70s but even to say something like that is really stupid. all eras have their good and their bad and things aren't so neat as someone w/a grand theory would like it to be. things are simply demarcated by decades either. only someone interested in dumbing down shit to target markets and focus groups would buy that. every time influences another time in some way or other. it's funny to make shrines out of time periods and funny to make hells out of them. life in the moment just ain't like that. you got to be vital in the space of time you're living in now, I believe.

   anyway, I'm trying to write an email I want to really compose well for and it's tough cuz uncle ray keeps drawing me into spiel w/interesting things. I do get it done and out but I wonder how spacey it ended up being? I'm too embarrassed to check and just send it. the clock is ticking and we got some miles to cincinnati at the other end of the state. uncle ray takes us to a chinese chow place not too far away and I get catfish. yep, catfish cooked up w/bean sauce - it's a trip but good. we thank uncle ray very much and I take us south down I-71. it's not a straight shot, columbus is in the way and we gotta go around it. should also tell you that since leaving the left coast, gas is only $1.60 to 1.70 a gallon for premium. on to the I-75, past the beam still (I thought bourbon was made in kentucky, mmmm), the procter and gamble gulag, then off to uptown, by the university. good navigating by tom. tonight, we're at _top cat's_, just down the street from sudsy's, where I've played the last bunch of times but now they're just doing acoustic stuff. the boss here vickie is nice and makes us feel welcome though. I do a spiel w/a cat in montreal for the gig there next week and after a soundcheck, I do some diary chimping in some very kind climate out on the pad's patio. look up - blue filled w/little cloud puffs, lit pink now by the setting sun. black birds in bunches tweetering over my head. this is tour half done, feeling lucky things are ok and we're safe so far. it's a fingernail moon, I send a prayer of thanks up that way, I'm in the boat to konk.

   it's a long konk and I must be out like three hours. tom gets me and I grab the bass and head for the stage. good house and people are in good spirits to see me, I'm quite honored. a monday night too. we get going and the guys are playing ok but I can tell vince is a little shook, it's hard for him to make the eye contact we thrive on as a band. helps us play tight. I break a string in the first song, aaarrrgggghhhh. the monitors are toy and hard to get help from. sort of a mime gig that way. really tough for vince, he's getting no help and can't hear his voice or toms. damn. what can we say, we gotta roll w/it and give the best job we can do, the crowd is very much into it. I start feeling frail so I double up my intensity and kick it up a notch, a wonder what adrenalin can do. I'm also relaxed in a weird way. there's a strange serenity that's come over me since the surgery. I've let out feelings I was afraid to show and I think this has been reflected in a calmness or maybe a slightly more sense of peace than I had before. I don't jump so quick to outburst mode and think more about what I'm doing. I mean this isn't a radical leap but just more of tendency to bring a little more calmness to my demeanor. old habits are hard to change but I'm trying. I don't like being a go-off. I like be passionate about my playing and delivery but I don't want to spaz out into doing hitler dances for hardly anything. even if it is a big thing, that's such a waste of soul fuel. it's a good thing for watt, makes me more human. I do have to focus big time on my playing due to the situation these days but I don't want so much anger leaping out of my eyes. a lot of that's always be mainly from frustration anyone and using weak ways to deal w/it. my body and it's condition along w/this opening up inside has made me adjust and I don't think it's all for the worst. my pace in a way is more deliberate, I think I'm even spieling slower, if you can imagine that.

   the gig is happening and they have us back. some cat gives us little macanudos and we play the encores smoking them. that is a trip, especially singing w/one in your mouth! serious billows going down the windpipe, soggy-ass smoking end in your mouth, ash burning the eye and trying to get words out w/teeth clenched. it's fun though. somehow it really fits for "formal introduction" but I don't know for the s-k tune. I hold the 'gar w/two fingers in my right hand and thump w/the thumb. it's a hoot and we have a good time. we get done and I sling shit. lieutenant scott burns is there, great to see him. a fellow bass cat named adam offers us up his pad. we pack up. some cat who grew his own jalapenos here in cincy gives three ripe red ones. there's another cat named todd who raps to me about what he does, creating satellite images of earth that relate all kinds of happening infos. it's at http://www.worldsat.ca and you should give it a look-see. info is power and provokes awareness.

   we follow adam to his pad, all kinds of hills in cincy - he says I drive like an old man but I'm being careful w/this boat and besides, we got cali plates which is a magnet for el hombre. all kinds of blind corners anyway and what the fuck am I in a rush for? I was just saying I'm getting more deliberate and steady, didn't I? when I get on the deck to konk, he even yanks my converse's off. he's funny. sometimes I konk in my shoes, it's ok. less shit to do when you pop, right? we're his guests though so I don't say anything. I feel glad for another good gig under the belt and though I could've done better, I'm grateful. I gotta keep my optimism up. there's gonna be times like what I had in detroit but I just got to shake it off and get further down the road. I got good men w/me, tom and vince. good peeps at the gigs too. and some very happening people in my life. stimulating soil to stir my roots and help me grow. I ponder this before being pounded w/sueno and find myself soon konked.

tuesday, october 3, 2000 - columbus, oh

from tom:

   we wake up at adam's place in cinci and we get scrubbed and get some breakfast with him before hitting the i-71 to columbus. the trip is fairly short and we arrive at little brother's at 2pm. it's warm outside. it feels like summer still, and that's great for us. I sit down to write and that's where I am right now - so more later.

   the humidity makes the heat kind of heavy so I stay inside the club most the day. vince's headset mic is missing and so mike and he go tho a music store and I hang out and take care of my own issues. I have to get more copies of my overpass cd that I'm selling on this tour, so, I have to figure out where to have diana send them. probobly hoboken. the bargain music boys show up and we spend an hour or so hanging out with the club owner dan, a good man and engaged to married soon and I want to wish him the best. (I hope you make it to the ruins).

   tera does sound at little brothers and and it take a little time convincing her that she had done sound for us last year when we played here. we a check and bargain gets on and vince and I find dinner down the street at a hybrid japanese/poly-asian place that we ate at last year. vince has a bowl of udon and some sashimi and I have the hot and sour soup woth lobster and a small plate of gobe beef satay, plus a scallion pancke (more like a crepe). very tasty and fairly reasonable.

   when we get back to the club it's time for b.m. to start, it's kond of an early show and people are still making their way in and I find a place to watch their show. they play a couple songs that I haven't heard before and also a meat puppets tune, look at the rain. they play great and the people love theier set. the stage is about 4 1/2 feet high and when the people come up as we get ready to play it looks like their heads are floating without bodies. even though we have a hard set,mike and I both break strings, we carry through it and all goes well. after our set tera is kind enough to lets us stay at her place and that's what we do.

from vince:

   we drive to colombus. on the way, tom asks if I brought my headset mic. it is not hanging up in the van where I usually put it, although it's connector is. the little foam windscreen is up on the dash frankenstein icon where I put it to dry out after each gig, giving frank an impressive angela davis style 'fro. so this means that at one point last night after the gig I had the mic in my pack kind of tucked in a smaller pocket as usual, but that it fell out, either when I changed from my completely sweat-soaked gig duds into the dry apres gigwear, or when doing the elaborate sweat clothes to stench bag exchange that is part of my post gig routine. so it's either up in the bathroom, or in the gutter outside the club. so most likely I'm out a headset. we get there nice and early, so maybe there's time to find one in town. I call vickie from top hat in cincy and leave a message. I need to get to a hardware store for bright colored cloth tape, and have time to walk, although dan, the club owner, sort of tries to disuade me at first, on account of the bad hood on the way. my feeling is, hey, I live in echo park, but I realize that this is foolhardy, so while electing to make the long dangerous odyssey (12 blocks or so), I tell myself to keep my eyes open. he says that he wouldn't send one of the rock stars down there, but that I'm no spring chicken. so I suppose the aged are not the prime choice of predators. it's a nice walk which I enjoy. on the way back, I stop at a pawn shop, and see a cool looking snare drum in the middle of the place. it's a 14" by 6 1/2" (or something like that, deeper than 5 1/2" I play). there's no insignia on it, but it looks well made, with what look like brass lugs. I check it out to see if the would grain, which is stained nicely, is real or if it's veneer, it looks real. I'm not good enough to know if it's birch or maple, but it looks like nice wood. the throw-off looks modern and works really nicely, and very adjustable. I tap it, and it sounds really nice. they want $160 with case included. I just got some flow, and sent some dough home, and need to have enough to buy a new headset mic and a mic stand, and a lap top (if any of you out there have a cheap used one you no longer need, having upgraded or whatever, and want to sell me), so I really shouldn't spend the dough. but the weakpoint of my kit right now is snare, so when the lady behind the counter asks if I'd like to hit it with sticks, I say yes, and she hands me these huge marching sticks. I play it for awhile, and although it's pitched pretty damn high, I think it sounds good, and will sound good pitched lower. by now the owner has come into the periphery, so I ask if he'll take $120 cash for snare, case and stand (a nice yamaha). he says $150 firm and will throw in the sticks, my choice of the big-ass marching sticks useless to me or symphonic sticks, same story. I bite, and throw down the dough. I bundle my prize in the case and march it and the stand the two blocks remaining to the club. I excitedly show watt and tom. they seem into it. tom tells me vickie called, didn't find the headphone mic, but will check with the maintenance guy, and will send it along with someone she knows driving to the columbus show if it turns up. I call sam ash, and they have the gear I'm looking for, but they're too far away to get to. so no headset tonight - back to the boomstand. we sound check in tera's capable hands, and tom and I go eat a few blocks south, at a japanese place we hit last year where the food is good and not too starch packed and sloth inducing. we get back in time for me to play more catch up with the diary, typing on tom's 'puter backstage, and then to catch our bargain brothers. I watch from the side of the cake-layer stage (high up and not all the way to the side walls) so I can check phil's drumming. he hits the snare so well, always in the sweet spot, always with the great arm swing, always grooving hard. it's great to hear the cats play every night. josh let me know a couple nights ago that I can jump up and join in with my horn on a couple tunes, but so far circumstances have not permitted. when it's our shift, I have one of my worst personal nights. I'm not really blowing stuff to bad, but I feel beat and clumsy. I expell some snot out my nose in mid-flurry and wear it on my face for at least two tunes, unable to square it away. it's like when my snare detunes and there's no time to grab the tuning key and crank to rods, except for during four beats in walkin' the cow. but in this case, I'm adding an exciting new visual element to our dynamic stge show. after we're done, adam who put us up in cincey, who made it to this show, said the sound was a lot better here. tera did a great job, just like last year. unfortunately, no headset made its way to columbus, so I'm out of luck there.

   tera puts us up for the night. she's got two dogs, possibly the friendliest dogs I've ever met, bo and bean. we sit out in the little backyard, tera, tom and mike on the porch, me on the lounge chair, and bo, a fairly big dog, climbs on top of me, putting her paw on my arm. It's so great out here, with a breeze rustling through the big tree in the yard, that I decide to sleep outside. tera warns me that she's had the house broken into, and that cars get broken into around there not infrequently, and that the alley behind the short fence is well traveled in the wee hours. she won't sleep without the back door being locked, so I get the key, and if the fence barrier is breached, I will fight off the invaders to my dying breath. I take the back down on the lounge chair and lay under the stars, barely able to hear the rustling of the leaves through my constant tinnitus. the breeze is cool and beautiful and I fall asleep, awaiting morning, or the slitting of my throat. once again I face down danger with a defiant whimper and manly trembling.

from watt:

   I pop and start the wash, adam's got a washing machine in the basement. I get email and what should be exciting is rather intense on me and makes me think on overdrive. my mind really spins the gears when it gets whirled. what might be so external turns like a mirror and shows me myself in all kinds of ways. the courtroom in my head gets setup, different aspects of my persona sit in the jury box and I put my whole life on trial. at this point in my life, I'm less about bitterness and anger and more about reflection and contrition. a life is made up of many days. many decisions. choices. behavior. there are random things too and chance occurrences/meetings. to be fair or make an attempt at it is to get the whole the picture and not stack the deck to justify yourself. there are some realities you have to reconcile yourself to and get off of selfish wants. this is what I'm wrestling w/and it makes a heavyness on me. I'm quiet on the ride to columbus, it's only a hundred miles and I get us there easy. tom had another one of those tiny macanudos and gives it to me. sure blows that backwoods rolled-up pieces of horseshit right out of the water. I start to talk w/my guys. have to reach out to force out the corkscrew twisted spiral-in. when I'm driving, the thoughts just fly all over inside my skull and it's hard to get them nailed down so they don't keep coming up like lameass re-runs. when I can compose on the 'puter and get them down in words, it'll be easier for me. I can make better sense to myself and it makes me calmer and the torrent of emotions rain guttered.

   it's good to see dan, the boss here at tonight's gig, _little brothers_. I've played for this man many, many years. there's cds too from the good folks at kill rock stars, great! and yes, the adapter has come for the 'puter from elizabeth (a great letter too) so we can chimp diaries during the hellrides.it lets us get power from the cigarette lighter. dan talks to me for a bit about the sprawl that's assaulting columbus and people trying to get land saved from it and all. he digs hiking and wants the darby creek saved. some talk about peckers in the music business too. he's also got a john wayne gacy painting of emmet kelly and shows me that. creepy. tera sets up for soundcheck and then were set 'til showtime. I go get some chow at a pad where the cat is from greece and I like hearing his accent. he's talking w/some airheads who've come in for an order and is asking him the most stupid shit in the world but he doesn't get bothered and just answers them the best he can and makes the best of it. this is a great attitude and I am inspired by him. I go back and talk w/the bargain music cats a little bit. I like them all, they're very nice though I have to say watt is kind of distant on tour w/folks. I keep a lot to myself and am either doing diary or konking. I just gotta have priorities and tour takes a lot out of me. they understand. I can't be on stage all the time.

   it's another three hour konk and tom comes and gets me. the stage here is funny, like you're coming out of a cake. you're so high over everyone, it's intimidating for me. I'm making a conscious effort to look folks in the crowd in the eye when I play tonight, I want my eyes to be like little lighthouses. I get such a warm feeling inside sometimes and I don't want to shit-hoard it, I want to share it w/people. I don't think it's mine to keep all myself anyway. something I got so freely should likewise be flowed. it's hard though for me, I'm scared to look at people. I feel so awkward just being in front of them. I make myself do it anyway. I laugh a bunch of times, I can't believe I'm trying to do this. I've made the commitment though and I'm going to see it through. the monitors are horrible and the drums sound so tiny. I don't mean to complain but I'm feeling insecure and I'm focusing on little shit like that. I break another string, the 'd' string. damn. I try to tell some story about me and the singer of the eagles discussing rock bands discussing politics for people at gigs (tonight is the first debate between george w. bush and al gore - where's ralph nader?), trying to make a point and this cat asks for the bass string but I thought he asked me why I broke the string and I tell him "cuz I try too hard." anyway, I lose my place in the story and just get it going again. it's hard for me to change the strings real fast on the little bass like I can on the other basses cuz the strings are too long and I gotta ask vince for pliers to cut them. damn, that bums me out. I usually can whip them on there like that. we get back to playing and I'm looking folks in the face - I wish I wasn't so much over their heads, it's so crazy. I understand being a little bit up there so they can see you even if they're standing behind others but this... as the set goes on, I'm getting weaker like usual this tour - it's hard for me to hold my balance, stay on my feet straight. I wonder why that is? I feel hollow too where they did the cutting on me. no matter, these folks count and the show must go on. they are very supportive and appreciative. much respect to the columbus folks, like all these cats this tour. I can't say enough good things about them or thank them enough. I wish I could do better for them. I am trying my hardest but I wish I could do more. there is the dream and then there is the reality. vince is having a tough gig. he donated his headset last night and has to use a boom stand mic which is fucked. tom breaks strings and has to use the backup strat. we're all having theses little problems but overall, the pliers are doing great and the peeps have us back for encores. I sling shit after and this lady wants to buy my flannel. I've been wearing this same one every gig. this cat from the bay area, attila, who got it from his dead brother, gave it to me and it's symbolic to me of my victory over the sickness and not dying. I told her I can't sell this. like the anchor in salt lake city. hmmm...

   tera, the soundlady offers us her pad and after goodbyes w/dan and the columbus folks, it's over to there for suenos. two love-filled dogs lick me to death. there's a huge oriental rug that's pretty thick on the living room floor and I layout on that. the weather was so mild today, indian summer for sure. it's almost two a.m. and I got my shirt off like it was cali. I go back to that rug after some porch sit and konk easy. when your body is out of gas from a hard mowing, it's easy to put the head in neutral. I'm just too wearied. I go sideways, then on my back w/my knees bent then back on my side and... konk.

wednesday, october 4, 2000 - pittsburgh, pa

from tom:

   we follow the rivers edge to 31st where the pub is. it's looking grey outside and like there's a very good chance of rain, but for the time being it's still warm and pleasent. we check out the place and drink some water and watt asks joel who runs the place if there is a barber nearby. I say that I cut my own hair and that I'll cut his and goes for it. I get some old sissors from joel and drag a bench outside and go for it. I just chop into it and cut the areas that feel too thick and trim off any stragglers afterwards. it turns out okay and vince wants me to do his, so I do. his hair isn't as thick as mike's so I can't just chop it, I have to look at what I'm doing and I don't want to let him down. I must say I did a good job and he is happy. finally, I do my own. I just grab and ship and ask later if there's anything sticking out bad. a haircut always give one a fresh perspective on things, hopfully in a nice way.

   after the excitment wears down, vince and I go out for a walk before loading in at 6, and since the area where the club is located is kind of on the edge of town we just start walking. we end up in an area called the strip which is mostly produce stands and fabric wholesalers, luckily though we find a good cup of coffee and hang out for a few minutes before starting the walk back. the weather is still holding out and the walk is nice and when get back we load on the little stage and wait more foe our sound check. the bargain music pull up at about this time and we all just hang in and outside of the pub until the skies finally start to open up and rain. luckily we loaded in already.

   vince and I have a chance to get something to eat and we walk down the street with a friend of his trying find somewhere that's open. luckily there's a spagetti wherehouse that is still searving and I get a ceaser salad and a bowl of wedding soup, which is basically chicken noodle with spinach and some kind of sausage meatballs. itwas adequate. vince had some minestrone. then we get back to the 31st st. pub to hear bargain music play. it all goes well and there is a good amount of people for a wednesday night. when we get up onstage I realize how small the area is and I have to pogo in one spot or else I would bash into the wall, which I do anyway. the sound is not very good and we wrestle with it throughout our set but we counter balance any of the rough spots with more power and plow through till the end.

    after the show it is still raining outside and it looks like we're staying in a back room at the bar so we don't have to load out, this is good but the room is kind of verboding to my senses and it taks a little time to fall to sleep though I finally do.

from vince:

   morning routine, shower, gather sleeping bag, backpack, etc., head out. we look for coffee on the way to the interstate, but nothin' doin'. so it's across ohio, through a little corner of west virginia and on to pittsburgh, pa. we drive through rolling hills, over rivers and small valleys and everywhere we look there are woods, the trees in the midst of the fall color change. the colors are brilliant, yellows, magenta, orange, red. we get to the burgh, and go through downtown to get to the strip. I can't remember ever going through downtown pitt before, and I'm digging it. one day I hope to have the time to hang out and check out that area. we get to the 31st street tavern early, and tom and I head out for some coffee and to check out the area. there's not a whole lot for ten blocks or so, then there are some shops and a coffee pad, where we dose up. we get back to the club and are shown the band room, which you walk outside the club to get through, like an old gas station rest room. Joel, the owner of the club, tells us that we're welcome to stay there overnight if we like. there are three beat-up couches, one of which is very small, a linoleum floor and a small bathroom with a metal shower. hope there's no lightening. the stage is the smallest we've played so far, with hard surfaces surrounding it, ceiling, walls, and, I think, floor. on one wall is a collection of ceramic skulls. maye there's a real one up there or two. jeff, the sound-man, finally shows up, and throws a mic in the kick drum and sets up another one by the floor tom, pointing in towards the rest of the kit. unorthodox. it is a microphone of the rugged peavey variety, one I haven't seen alot of so far, complete with on-and-off switch. jeff must be experimenting with gear, never satisfied with the status quo. more evidence of this is the shure unidyne 3, a "vintage" mic. I remember our band in high school had one we'd use if we couldn't borrow a 57 or 58. the unidyne is equipped with the handy switch as well. tall and gaunt with ballcap atop his long hair, jeff wisely stroked his thick mustache and peered through his dark rimmed glasses as he spoke to tom and I. "don't worry", he said, "i've done hundreds of shows here, 3 bands a night, bam, bam, bam", continuing, "I don't use much eq, so if the band before you sounds bad, don't worry, that's their band, not yours". one of the great opportunities of the road are the omni-present lessons one can glean from others.

   the bargain chaps sound great again, although josh tells me after that they felt a little blah about it. he was giving us props, freestyling a little bit, so it gave me a spirit boost. we got up to play, and I feel that despite the sound reinfocement onorthodoxies we are unaccustomed to, and the sheer walls which blast the fellows with my cymbals, we play well. I feel, in fact, as if I've gathered myself out of my personal slump, and, for the first time in a while, really enjoyed playing, being in the moment. when we had our post-set, pre-encore huddle, watt said he thought that the dynamics were ham-handed and that we weren't playing together. I have to say, when you're crowded together and the walls and ceiling are all hard surfaces and close to you, it's hard to bring the level down enough because everything is amplified by that acoustic situation. we do our encore, and the people are into it. right on. we head to the room and crash, divvying up the couches. mike takes the small one.

from watt:

   pop and shower. go to the boat and break out the little folder bike. where only a few blocks off of high street so I pedal to it and take that north. all these bars pass by, why? on the other side of the street is ohio state. big campus. I pedal past that and up to where the old little brothers used to be, where it was in a place called "stache's." that pad is torn down now. what's there in it's place? a parking lot for a gumby's pizza, tax accounting, etc. the comic book store that was next door is gone too. got a deck of illuminati cards in there once. and a righteous book on kachinas. oh well. pedaling on, look up at the sky and see change coming. no more cali weather, maybe rain in the next town, pittsburgh. I pedal back and the pliers are rousted and ready. no tera so we can say thanks but I do here. we bail east on the I-70.

   the leaves are starting to turn and we got the fall orange, red and yellow to our sides - all painted by nature on the leaves of the trees. I dig it and ask tom do some snaps w/the digicamera. it's not that far of a drive, maybe four hours and I take us over the ohio river, into a little bit of west virginia and then on to pennsylvania. lots of hills and narrow valleys now. into the three river town and vince maps out the course I steer the boat though to tonight's pad, the _31st street pub_, one never played by me before. most my previous pittsburgh gigs were for johnny and judy at the electric banana but they've turned that now into a restaurant. they call me at the club and invite me for chow but we got soundcheck. the '31' owner, joel lets me use a phone jack to get email. he says this pad used to be a biker bar but all his customers deserted him and now he's turning to music. he says he'd be closing at eight or nine if it wasn't for the gigs. the pad is rectangular w/the stage at one end. where you play is like a little cupboard, I bet the cymbals are loud. while we're waiting for the soundman, tom gives me a haircut out front. he does ok. cuts his own hair too. cuts one or two of vince's even. the soundman, jeff shows up and it's gonna be like a five or six mic affair, including the vocals! maybe that's all you need, he says he's done hundreds of gigs and makes everyone sound great. time's getting late though. damn, I miss chow w/johnny and judy. I eat chips w/salsa. the salsa's pretty tame so I gotta add dave's insanity sauce to up the kick. yes. I do diary and tonight don't konk before playing. oh well.

   the bargain cats do a good set I can hear through the walls. see, I'm in the band room, a little pad you get to from the outside in the back of the pub's building. vince says we can konk there and I say ok. our turn to play and it's a good crowd. many nice words from them as I sling the little bass and get ready. damn, feedback in the monitors bad. a weak eq gives no body to my spiel - all shrill high mids that make me crazy w/feedback and overtones. aaaarrrgggghhh. the show must go on though so no hissy fit. I try to let folks see my eyes but there's lights right in them and it's hard to see faces. the light switches is actually on the side of the wall where tom is and he does a light show when he gets a chance. I was right, the cymbals are deafening. we blow some clams but in general, do good. there is feedback constantly in the monitors but I try to ignore it. sometimes, however, I do cuss inbetween lines on the songs, especially the quiet ones. damn. another thing bugging me is a tv on above the bar, staring right at me. it's some stupid shit show on music in the eighties - who the fuck cares? finally, I can't take any more and ask joel to turn it off. so it does after a little while. thanks joel. eighties, the new nostalgia? shit it wasn't even that long ago. some stupid fucking haircuts too (ike I should talk, me: cocunut head). funny thing is black was eighties, husker du was eighties, meat puppetes was eighties - minutemen was eighties. why none of that? motherfuckers re-writing history, that's why. aaaarrrrgggghhh.

   we get done and I get lots of well wishes from the cats there, even my friend roman's cousin! one cat tells me he was born in the same hospital as me in portsmouth, virginia a few years before I was. he's way into that and so am I. a good feeling here from this town, thank you, pittsburgh. we get done and pack but don't have to load up cuz we can do that in the morning. there's a drizzle out now. there's two couches and a padded chair in the band room. tom and vince get the couches and the deck is too, uh... so I use the padded chair. I'm in 'u', sideways w/my legs draped over one chair arm and my back against the other and the wall it's next to. lights out and of course we gotta crack jokes like we do all the time, me and the pliers get along pretty good on the road. they're great men. I konk w/a sweaty-wet letter in my pocket, it has me thinking and soon the thoughts turn to dreams.

thursday, october 5, 2000 - philadelphia, pa

from tom:

   kind of a drive to philly and after missing our initial connection to the turn pike we start a trip though the middle of pennsylvania, towards altoona and back south to the turn pike east. the trees are all turning colors and it's really beautiful right now so I take lots of pictures. when we get near philly we do another miss turn and have to re-evaluate our entry into the city, and in a little while we're in the middle of town and pulling up to the upstairs club.

   the club is actually in the same building where another club called the revival used to be when my old band slovenly was on tour with firehose. it's a cool old gothic greek-like fronted place with marble stairs and huge pillars. unfortunately though now the club space is upstairs and we have to haul everything up three flights of stairs. after doing so I head out to find postcards but can only find those free kind that have something that they're advetising. too bad since there must be some somehere with all the historic tourist sites around town. after a short walk I get back and do soundcheck.

   we get fed downstairs from the club and I order the ten dollar steak and a cup of coffee. everything goes well and and before too long I go back upstairs to catch the bargain music set and work off some of my meal. their show goes really well and there are some people in the crowd who know their music and that gives them a boost. vince joins them onstage for a couple tunes and that adds a really nice texture to their sound. it's a great set and vince plays great sax and the crowd digs it.

   we get set up and I go get watt out of the van and we play a high energy show too, I think it's a good sound on stage if not a little bright (sounding). all goes well and we get a great response and we sign many t-shirts, flyers, ticket stubs, beer bottles, whatever the folks seem t find they want us to write on. of course we appreciate all the nice words and I thank them for their support before they leave and we load out. after getting everything in the van we start off into the night following tim to his girlfriends apartment in deleware, I'm so tired that I can hardly keep my eyes open.

from vince:

   up and at 'em. the shower scares mike, so he remains unwashed. I brave it to steam away the saline crust accumulated during the sweat deluge during the set last night (and every night). tom goes in search of coffee. joel, who lives upstairs, finally drives up (he must have driven to eat or run and errand first) to open up the bar. we kept our gear in there last night, so we have yet to load the van. hopefully, loading gear first thing will provide welcome novelty to our morning routine. last night joel had recommended a restaurant a short walk away called "mama rosa's and daughter". watt went there after his bike ride and said that he went in there in the midst of family disfunction, daughter yelling at mom to "go ahead and sell the house, I want out of here" while an older man scurried around, correcting a large botched sandwich order. when he managed to make his request for coffee, the mom or the daughter delivered splashed coffee liberally everywhere but in his coffe cup, leaving him but a thimbalfull of piping-lukewarm light brown liquid. when I mentioned this to joel, he said, "yeah, that's why I never go there". thanks for the heads-up, I say. tom's back, there's a triple cap for me, thank the supreme-commander of the universe for this blessing, and we saddle-up to cross pennsylvania. we go through some rural areas, taking the u.s. roads a lot of the way. it's great to see these gentle rolling hills and the little towns of the keystone state. we do a couple blow-bys due to my lax navigation and so we do an needless crescent, skirting the breadth of the big city along the north side to approach from the northeast. we get into central philly, where the paters precedentia smoked, drank, and tossed around the idea of founding the u.s. the old buildings, narrow cobblestone roads and abundance of historical buildings makes philly a favorite city of mine. I dig the people of philly, too. so we get into the club, and hump the gear up three steep-ass flights of cursed stairs and set up. we do sound check. the drum monitor is not working, so dj, our sound man, says he'll fix it after soundcheck, and will wing my monitor stuff. fine with me. after our check, I work on tuning a ring out of my floor tom, and I'm under it with my drumkey, like somebody working on their car, with my ear about six inches from the somewhat mammoth drum monitor. dj is trying to figure out what is wrong with the monitor, and he jiggles a wire. an enormous transient peak makes a sharp, percussive and sudden sound, like a big door slamming or something, right in my ear. it is numb for half and hour at least. oh well, it's only my hearing. easy come, easy go. a chance to add to my tinnitus collection. my old buddies gil feuhr and john sweeney show up, great human beings from the safari sams days. gil was part owner along with my compa sam lanni, and sweeney was the sound man. it's so great to see these guys. the last time I saw them was at sam's wedding, and the time before that it was when baooka played in philly and they took us to the great bar dirty franks and to eat great cheesteaks. I ate two, as I recall. safari sams was a great place, a tiny place with great insane true-believers working there and hanging out. I met so many people I still hang with and play with there. I saw so many great bands there, and had so much fun there. I played with el grupo sexo there - in fact, sam sort of gave us our first good gig and blasted us into our little 14 minutes of local fame. I met watt and d. boon when sexo played sam's (didn't really meet georgie until bazooka played with firehose at bogart's in long beach). I saw the meat puppets, black flag, plain wrap, lovingkindness, brent and blair's pre-pivot foot's band. I saw and played with so many great bands that I can't list them all. it was a great point in my life, and all of our lives involved in it. it was an amazing place, that I will always remember. when we were eating dinner after sound check at the upstage in philly, gil and sweeney told me that sam's lasted for less than two years. the city shut them down, not happy that there was a gathering place for young people, some of which had mohawks, dyed hair, punk clothes, et. al. I was blown away. only two years. it was such an institution.

   I sound check with bargain music because this is the first night I'll be joining the for two songs, playing my horn. I get the road map verbally from josh, and will watch him for cues. when I do the two songs in the set, it's totally comfortable for me to play - they have wide open grooves with a log of space, so I can really get into the tone of the sax notes, and let the sound dictate the notes. it's a fun intro to the first tune I do, open, leading into a counted in groove. the other tune is a great smooth "walk on the wild side" groove. it's a pleasure and an honor to be asked to play with these compadres, and it's a blast. the bargain groove is deep and wide, and there's a lot of space, so I can dig into the tone and ride it a little bit. and I get to weave around josh's great voice, and since the sax has a vocal quality, it's cool to do. next it's our turn, our shift, and I think we come out blasting. we're grinning and goofing from the joy of having the minds and machines working in synch. dj has the monitors working good and is attentive, so we're in a comfort zone. the audience is revved up and that jacks us up. it feels great. I've shaken off my slump for two whole gigs and it feels like we're all in agreement this time. watt made up a different set list and the novelty is cool, and it seems to flow the energy around even better than before. it's a great vibe, a great gig. mike's playing great, tom's playing great, and I feel right there in the moment. we retreat offstage into the nearby bathroom for the pre-encore confab, and a fellow cluthcing his beer glass follows us in, evidently under the sway of libation. I presume he wanted to be "where the action is", or maybe he thought we'd be chopping lines of cho-cho or something. I think he just wanted to share in the bon-homme. anyway, as mike is about to go into his observations on the set, the guy looks at us and says, raising his glass, "hey, what are we doing here, let's go to the bar". we do two encores, and the audience crowds the stage afterwards. scott, who we first met in seattle, and who was with us in vancouver also, is there. we ran into him while unloading our gear. he's a prosecuting attorney in philly. when he walked up, smiling in his work suit, I didn't recognize him in that context. I thought we were going to be arrested or something. anyway, up by the stage he's back in civilian clothes as we've been accustomed to seeing him. gil and sweeney have to split, and so I hug them and will have to wait until next time to continue the hang. they were way into it and that makes me happy. gil is getting married in november, so congratulations gil. after the gig we head off with timmy to the apartment of his girlfriend, who lives in newark, de. they have two ferrets, one of which is more social, and crawls around our blankee's and bags, avidly sniffing, taking in socks and feet at the same time. he's a cute little fella. soon comes nite nite.

from watt:

   wow, what a strange position to pop from. I was sideways in the padded chair but to fit I had to go into a fetal curl. my knees were up to my chest. I didn't hurt at all, no soreness or anything. I had the most easy sleep too. in a dream, I was patted on the head and told to be calm and rest. I did just that! amazing. I'd think for sure I'd be cramped and hurting but that was not the case at all. I felt totally relaxed. strange. it was raining outside so I couldn't pedal. down the block was a pad called "mama rosa's and daughter" and I went in their for coffee. we couldn't get the shit out of the pad 'til joel came and unlocked the door. in that chow pad I went to get coffee but it was crazy in there. an old cat was trying to a bunch of orders by himself and folks were waiting. I just started chimping and waited my turn. finally, this lady shows up and the place is going crazy. some guy comes back w/his order cuz it was wrong and this lady gets on the phone and calls what sounds like her ma. this must be "...and daughter." she's hollers "mom, this is the last time - sell the house, I'm quitting for real this time!" damn, too intense for watt - I gotta bolt. joel comes and unlocks the pad. me and vince load cuz tom has went to get coffee from another direction but it's taking him forever. we get the boat stuffed w/our stuff and finally tom arrives. bye joel.

   it's a drive east along the allegheny river and we get to talking about the eighties nostalgia shit that was on the tv last night above the bar while we were playing. both tom and vince have theories about what it's all about and that it started in the 70s. I differ a little and say I think it's always been w/human kind, just more sophisticated marketing by the 70s days. then tom takes it to the whole idea of modernity and I guess, post-modernity. it's getting pretty heady and he's supposed to be navigating and we blow right by our exit (maybe it didn't even exist) for the pennsylvania turnpike and barrel into "deer hunter" (the movie) country. little towns in rolling hills w/names like 'blue knob' and 'puxatwaney' (sp?), the place w/that groundhog who predicts the weather w/his shadow dance. it's a real pretty drive though, some heavy fog and a lot of gray but some righteous eye gifts. I have to say I've never taken this route before. we hook up w/the pike near harrisburg and of course blow by another exit outside of phily (this one did not exist so I don't think I should've called it a blow by. more like reading the map wrong). traffic too. whew, seven and a half hours and I get us there, a block or two right near the liberty bell. what do you know - a parking space right outside the pad, maybe those delays were all necessary! and also, what a surprise - this pad is one I played before when it was called 'revival,' it's now called _upstage_ and brain's the boss here, he's done a bunch of my phily shows. I happy to play this town, this is where john coltrane lived! j.d. is the soundman and he's great, he's w/us all the way - such a difference when the cat really cares and knows what he's doing. a quick soundcheck and then something I rarely do, I eat w/the guys. I get a oyster salad (where we played when it was 'revival' is now a restaurant, the 'upstage' is upstairs) but the oysters are deep fried. damn. a couple of friends of vince's sit w/us, they give me some sun ra cassettes and a video (yeah!) and a bottle of stuff called "pure cap." it's in a childproof bottle w/an eyedropper but the stuff ain't that intense. not on a "dave's" level anyway. my tolerance must be way up there. they're nice cats though. after the chow, I go to the boat and konk.

   after two hours I pop, this time ahead of tom coming to get me. I re-arange the setlist, time to shake things up a little. I come up to the pad and it's full w/good people who are happy to see me. lots of good feelings and yet again I'm touched. lots of this all tour, thank you much, people. the stage is another one of those "comign out of a cake" things and it's difficult to let people see my eyes cuz there's people to my right and I play looking at the pliers who are to my left. I have to keep turning to face them. in "one reporter's opinion" I space in a part near the front of it and don't even know where I am. damn. I recover though and play hard. it's a good set - the pliers do great and I've sweated my entire outfit especially the letter in my flannel pocket, I'll have to dry that out on the dash of the boat. sling lots and also get lots of well wishes from the folks, much brotherly love in the city of brotherly love. thank you so much.

   I forgot to mention loading in - it's up three small flights of stairs so it's a little tough getting it back out but no matter, I'm very grateful to the town. we follow tim to hir girl's pad in newark, delaware and it's kind of a drive, fortyfive minutes or something but were grateful for the hospitality. tim's given lots of nice things over the years and has always helped out, he's happening. we visit w/the ferrets that live there too - the lady is hiding but the guy one loves exploring these new smells from these cali sailors and is nuzzling into everything. what a trippy little creature, I dig him! wonder why they're illegal in cali? down on the deck, up w/the mask and I'm out - I am totally wrung and konk immediately.

friday, october 6, 2000 - hoboken, nj

from tom:

   we get to hoboken early enough for vince and I to get a bite to eat across the street at helman's german bar and restaurant. I have eaten here before and remember the food being perpared just right. I get a ham and cheese open faced grilled sandwich and vince has the roast beef and both are superb. I walk back over to maxwells and ask for a package that diana had sent to me and I get it from one of the nice folks who work there, I really appreciate the help.

   later, my friend tim stops by maxwell's to say hi and we talk for a little while. I always have a good time in hoboken, it's one of the best stops on tour. not to mention maxwells feeds you well too.

   the first band is called stereobate and they make some good sounds and I watch their show along with some of their fans. the bargains get up and wail into their set and I watch them too. I've watched them every night and I can tell that they have some difficulty with the sound and that has some effect on their flow but they pull it out and finish up stronly. each night I get to hear something new from them and tonight they do another tune with another great rap from skelly. after the stage set up we play a decent show but I have a hard time with the stage sound too. it could have something to do with the fact that there are so many people crammed up to the stage and deadening the sound. anyway, we get through it andthepeople really dig it, again. the shows have become really consistent as far as the crowd response is concerned, and that's great.

from vince:

   tom and I trek for coffee - it's a long way. they have lox and bagel for $2.75, so I get that. it's mighty good, too. we trek back, observing great mushrooms on the lawn of the large apartment complex where we stayed the night, thanks to timmy and his girlfriend. timmy guides us out like a tugboat to the interstate, where we head for hoboken. the drive is somewhere between jaunt and hell-ride, so, since we left early enough, we get there in time to grab something to eat before loading in. the sight of manhattan, the statue of liberty, and the whole approach in through new jersey never fails to excite me. when we get to maxwells in hoboken, team new england member fred is at the club, with his friend matt. fred is a great guy, always a pleasure to see him, and matt is cut from the same cloth. they help with the gear, and fred won't take our drink tickets for his beer - he wants to support the show completely, even though he is helping in every way possible, and usually records all the shows he comes to. fred is not recording tonight, so he can watch unencumbered. I get to play sax with bargain tonight again, and their vibe is so enthusiastic and supportive, it helps me play. I think it helps me play drums later, too. after my two tunes with them, I jump off the stage, walk thru the crowd and my longtime friend stephanie is there! I am very happy to see her. she is a brilliant, soulful, tough, infinately talented, unique and wonderous person and I count myself lucky to know her. she looks happy and strong. she was recently married to a jazz piano player named michael who is a great guy - I haven't met him, but he'd have to be. I look forward to meeting him, hopefully when we're back at the merc in manhattan on the 14th and 15th. ok, so we get up to play, and I think we're hittin' it pretty good. mike breaks a d string pretty quick in big train, and tom has to run out to the van to grab one, but watt does some spiel and when tom is about halfway thru the crowd tom tosses the pack up to me, I get it to mike, he changes the string pretty quick and we're back in the tune where we left off (well, I thought we were at a different spot, but it didn't screw the pooch that bad). I have fun and feel pretty loose. later mike tells me he could tell I was having a tough gig and that the look on my face was panic, but I actually felt pretty good. maybe he caught me at some particular screwy moments. steph dug the show, which means a lot to me, and bought a dos cd. fred and matt dug it - and fred is a drummer who plays new orleans funk, so I know his shit it tight. I hope to her him play someday soon. our road comrades, bargain music, help us load out. what a bunch of great dudes. steph heads out to make her way back to brooklyn by taxi and train. we head over to jimbo's on the bead-bought island. jimbo's got a welcoming grin and sparkle in his eye as usual, looking healthy and energetic. he shows off his new mac cube and flat screen, and it's compelling gizmotry. we talk for a bit but hit the sack pretty quick.

from watt:

   pop and rise from the deck early. thre's a tub of ok size but no soap, just a tube of "body wash." never used this before but what the fuck. says it's swiss so maybe that means something. squeeze it out and it's like jurgen's lotion. I get all coated w/it, then I soak. this is good on watt. even though the pedaling has helped my knees get stronger and hurt less and the little bass has also kept my hands from aching (they have no pain at all, that's so great), I still like a good soak to float this body and mind in. it calms me. I can let go of gravity and just float. it's the best. I can't really stretch here, like most tubs but I can still bob if I tuck my legs in. I stay in 'til the fingers start to prune.

   we're in some tangled apartment complex and I'm not confidant enough to pedal and not get lost. oh well. the sky is pretty gray but maybe rain will hold off, I hope so. tim has been great and he brings out the other ferret, a white girl one. they are trips to see darting around w/their backs all in a hunch. great! I put up week three of the tour diaries. then tim leads us to the freeway and we're off for tonight's gig in hoboken, nj at _maxwell's_, a pad I have much history w/dig playing there a bunch. the drive on the new jersey turnpike has lots of plugs, traffic and construction - aarrrrggghhhh. I guess l.a. isn't the only plug town, we've seen it a bunch on tour. tom navigates me and I guide the boat into hoboken, some rough-ass roads though, damn! since cleveland I've been feeling vibrations in the steering wheel and accelerator and this has got me a little worried. something is up. I check all over when we dock and find cupping on the inboard of the port side front tire, hmmmm. monday, in winooski, I'll get the oil changed and try to get things checked out. hard to tell what's loose and all cuz of the boat's weight. not like I can grab the tire at nine and three o'clock and shake it for a crunched-up bearing like I can w/a little car. I love the boat and want to do anything to help her, she's the center of my universe on tour.

   I chimp some diary, then hoof down washington and chow some tudino's pizza, that's some happening slice to chow on! I get some shaving cream too cuz I donated the can I brought and it's lame to keep mooching from tom. the papers have some great news, milosevic is out in serbia, the people rose up and kicked him out. I'm so very happy for them. not the end of all their problems but at least no more of that prick. I go into maxwell's and chow some soup and salad. very nice people here and there's "david watts," this kinks song playing over the jukebox. this lady there says she knows what the real story is behind it and tells me "david watts" was this rich fop (they played a lot of debutante parties when they were young and there were these kinds of people at them) that ray davies tried to "sell" his brother dave to him (if you know what I mean). how funny. I always thought it was about the guy who could do no wrong in high school - lots of sports, student council, the school play - everything I wasn't. I wondered about those folks sometimes a little, they seemed to have it all going for them, peaking at seventeen or whatever. I was much an outsider, I spent most my time w/d. boon and away from social and school stuff. that's how we really got into music. I did the classes and everything and did electronics but was very much a bozo w/the student body. the teachers thought I was nuts as well. funny, my twentyfive year reunion is coming up and I wonder what that would be like? I've never been to any of that. we graduated in 1976 and that was the year punk came around we were just lucky, that scene was into folks who didn't fit in. now that story about "david watts" makes a whole new kind of sense, so funny. shows to go you, huh? thank god high school in reality is such a tiny part of a person's life. you don't feel that at the time but later it's more than obvious. the key thing is, I guess, not to do any non-reversable shit. I do think you should fight trying to be so much part of the herd and try to find yourself - you end up doing that later anyway. it's important to learn, be enlightened and inspired - not beaten into submission or be made to feel small cuz you're different. here I thought this song was about someone everyone envied when it was really about some chicken hawk and trying to pimp your brother to him. illusions and facade, the stuff that makes up life.

   time to make for some konk in the boat. first I talk to george berz on the phone, he's gonna play drums w/j and me sunday in winooski. he only knows the songs by number and not title so it's hard to talk about them. oh boy, this is gonna be scary but I'm still way up for it. hope I don't choke. I call jimbo, only an answering machine, maybe he's working and can't come, I'll see him when we go to his pad later to konk. speaking of which, time for me to invest in a pre-gig amount now. I go to the boat and sueno comes quick. just as quick it seems, it's gig time. grab the stuff and get into maxwell's. sign says 'sold out' - thank you good folks of hoboken. get up there on stage and it's time to whup it up. another 'little cupboard' stage but all carpeted so it's kind of dead. I know vince is having a little trouble w/it. he likes a little support w/the woomph and foom factor bolstering his bam-bam. in "big train," there goes the 'd' string. damn. no strings w/me either - double damn! thomas goes running out to the boat, he's such a brother to do that. I gotta borrow vince's pliers too to cut the string short enough, what an idiot you are, watt! only four tunes into the gig too. we pick it up again though and slam it home hard. no breaks, we play it like one big song. the pliers are playing good. I can tell there's minor probs w/them but their doing good. I'm trying to show the lights in my eyes to the folks. it sure is hard to do it. makes me feel self-conscious but I'm trying to get over that and reach out. I wonder if I look insane. maybe I should say more insane?

   the gig gets done and we're off stage. someone asks me to sign "the whitey album" by ciccone youth. I dig signing that record even if I have only one tune on it and that was recorded in my one room pad on fourteenth street by myself. I still feel like a ciccone youth. they had me write the liner notes for it. they are strange, my mind was in a weird (weirder?) place when I wrote it but I was serious about celebrating what I thought was important to me regarding that. I got turned on to madonna by kira when I started to get to know her and there was always a parallel for me between the two. a big impact on my life. I thought about that while I was putting my name on that cd artwork. I have a little name so it took hardly any time. we're back on for encores and this crowd is very nice and warm, lots of good feelings and hugs for me. I feel very grateful and wish I could play better, do better. the pliers did great. I feel like a weak link in a way. the audience is open minded and attentive, my men are playing their butts off and I'm struggling just to let folks see the light in my eyes that's firing up my life. I want to work the bass more wild too, like it was a skateboard. I want it to be thrilling somehow. I just gotta get stronger and more together. somehow. when I think about it, though - even w/this sickness that I went through - I do feel like I'm doing better than the last few years of tours. it's hard for me to even think of some of the gigs I've done. I just figure I had to go through that, push through it to get even to here. I want to get beyond though, beyonder. I want to make the working of this machine like a conduit for feelings that can come straight out and make themselves plain and clear. I think about this as I'm packing up.

   I see the boss, todd, and he's glad I made it through that sickness. I've always loved working for him. no jimbo but murph's here though he disappears real quick. I didn't get much to say to him at all. damn. he was supposed to be w/don flemming and some cats he's doing recording w/from wales but I never saw him. oh well, folks working is a good thing in this business cuz it can get tough and watt will be back for more gigs, as long as I got breath in me. I never take in personal when cats can't make it. one life is made up of many gigs it seems. you can't get bent out of shape and just gotta keep your spirit strong. people in your life, ones you got big love for, can fire you up from miles away. even when they have to say good bye, when you once more have to be just watt - I have a reason for putting out these notes, the rhythms, this spiel and this sweating and trying to overcome my fears.

   I use tom's walkie-talkie phone to call jimbo and he answers. "hi jimbo, glad to hear you, man." I dig him much. he says come on over and we load the boat, say our byes and head through the holland tunnel to his pad on canal street. even though I'm beat, the six flights up are nothing - that little folder bike really has helped my heart be strong, so much thanks for that. jimbo has got one of these new 'cube' 'puters from apple and a flat-panel display. wow. I don't drool on this kind of shit too much but am happy for jimbo, he really digs it. he catches me up on lots of stuff as I lay on his deck, my bones are sore. must be four-thiry or something when his words tuck me into a blanket full of konk. I'm trying to hear and make sense out of everything and hold on as long as I can. I'm thinking of connecticut too at the same time. I'm pretending I'm energy from a big tesla coil. like a big field w/no physical presence, radiating. that's weird, kira was born in connecticut, I wonder why I just thought of that? the connections in the watt head are so crossed and tangled, damn. sorry k. I have to say bye. bye jimbo, watt's konking... he's out.

saturday, october 7, 2000 - cambridge, ma

from tom:

   the road out of manhattan is pretty smooth and the skies are clear. as we get close to the mass. border the trees are more and more brilliant yellow and orange. the air is chilly but it's a nice ride and after a few hours we pull up to t.t. & the bears and find some food next door at the middle east. I have a bowl of chicken vegetable soup and vince has a lamb shank with green beans, it's a delicious meal and it hits the spot.

   later we load and set up and hang in the club till the people start showing up and we sit with the bargain music boys for a while, the usual. the first band is playing some cool looking guitars so I check them out and they have some cool music too. bargain music plays a fantastic show, maybe thier best yet, but it goes kind of long and by the time we get on stage it is getting late. our set is solid and even though the crowd is into it we get cut off a little short. we kick into our last tunes anyway and finish it up strong and load out. I grab a couple of slices of some boston pizza before heading over to sean and jenna's place and crash on the floor. before I know it I'm waking up and getting ready for the next day.

from vince:

   pop up, jimbo's making coffee, but tom and I pop down the stairs and onto canal to get some cuban coffee at the place a block or so away and take in some crisp sunny new york city street vibe. there's some pound cake there at the chow shop and it's great. we get back, and have some of the dynamite coffee jimbo made. It's shaping up to be a great morning. john rosenfelder comes by, and it's great to see him. as we're splitting, he hands me a copy of willie nelson's letter to america decrying the ruination of the small farmer, which he considers to be the backbone of the country. we chart a course out of town following the parkways where the trucks can't go and slip quietly and quickly on our way to cambridge. we get to tt's and the bear in cambridge fairly early, and since there's nobody at the club yet, mike hangs out in the van and tom and I go to the middle east next door to eat. I have stewed lamb shank and green beans with pilaf and pita bread, and I'm telling you, it's home cookin', like my pop makes. I'm half armenian on my dad's side (half welsh-irish with flecks o' cherokee, scot and brit on my mom's side) and vic, my pop, 100% armenian, has a lot of grandma's, god bless her, dishes down, though no one could cook as well as grandma. so anyway, this is wailin' food, and lot's of it. the door opens up and john the soundman is there so we quickly set up and sound check. upon inquiry he tells me where an open music store is - guitar center about three miles away. we have time, so I take off and walk most of the way there - over the bridge into boston,then on the subway/light rail, that has a pivoting hinge segment to allow for the twists and turns where the subway portion makes it's transition and emerges from the ground. it's like a carnival ride, really fun. the trains are really cool looking, too. retro and sort of european, like no subway trains I've seen before. there's construction on commonwealth street, so the train stops and onto a shuttle bus I go and get off at guitar center on the way to boston college. I walk accross the street and it's closed. it's like 7:30pm and guitar centers closed. so I walk the 3 miles back without a headset mic, tripod stand and drum heads I'd intended to get. well, it's a great walk anyway, back over the charles river with the view of boston's skyline sparkling in the cold nightand back to cambridge. by the time I get back to the club the first band is in full swing and I have some time to chill in the back room, joking around with bargain and warming up with the sticks. bargain comes on and I get up for my two tunes, which is a total gas, although my reed is almost useless now. on the road it's not easy to maintain the horn, reed, mouthpiece and ligature the way the should be. the horn and neck should be swabbed, and the mouthpiece and ligature cleaned every night. the reed should be dunked in water and wiped off, and every other night dunked in a mixture of peroxide and water for a minute. but with the drums and hardware to disassemble and pack into cases, cowbell and clamp, harps, headset mic's and dry clothes to get into, all before the van is ready to be loaded up, there's no time to maintain the horn. so the read get's all discoulored with mold and mildew (pretty grotesque, eh?), which saps the sound. the mouthpiece gets calcium deposits inside it and so does the ligature, which looks like brine crusting everywhere. the horn sounds less and less good as tour goes along, therefore. also, changes in temperature and humidity shrink or expand the pads, changing the seal on the tone-holes. a good new reed helps alot and I intend to begin the search for a new reed tomorrow. i have a couple boxes of reeds with me, but you have to soak them, then find a good one, and that isn't always guaranteed with a box. so the end of my current reed's life is tonight: I have squeezed all the sound out of it there is. after playing with bargain, I look around for my friend jenna, who I met through good ol' mikey sessa. I had hoped to see her and her boyfriend shaun, but so far haven't seen them. she was cali but is getting her master's in...political science I think? at harvard? mit? jeez...I'm sorry jenna, for not having the info right, and sorry shaun if your name is spelled sean.

   our set is good. at first I'm uptight, but loosen up, and it gets better. mike even looks over, says "smile" in-between bass blasts, and this simple, essential reminder jogs me out of my funk. I manage a grim half-smile/half-grimace, but it helps my claw my way back into the fun-ville of playing in the band, unhampered by mind-fuck. when we get offstage after the set, he talks about keeping eye-contact. in the 15th, I ended before he did, and, at the time thought I ended right. he thinks he ended right. he's probably right, but his point is, regardless of right and wrong in a case like that, play together, in visual contact, so whatever happens you can deal with it. this is great policy and I walk back up to the stage in the encore contemplating the wisdom of it. it's positive, "pro-active" as they say, and replaces blame and shame with the big can-do spirit of teamwork overcoming obstacles. during the gig I look down and see a smiling jenna, who winks as I'm playing. the friendly face and greeting help me even more and we're off to the races. I think we're starting to get intense song for madonna down pretty good. the foam up gets honed more each time, and it's beginning to get a life of its own. little man is still difficult for me to play, especially the part after the guitar solo where georgie foams it up on hat and then gets to the snare action. the foam up, 16ths on the hat over a way fast 4 is a bitch for me to do at the tempo mike's setting there, but he likes the tension of that sound, and I agree. but it's hard, man, it's hard. ball buster is tough to make the 16ths on hat and ride, and the 5-0 fills. another tough one is starting out with get gettin', which requires a fast drum solo pretty quick. pulling that off to my satisfaction isn't so easy. I feel like hamfist mcclamson on that solo most of the time. but I relax in a lot of other stuff that used to vex me and feel comfortable to the extent that I can really dig playing it, and creating something when it comes around. I dig the tunes I mentioned, too, a lot, but they are big challenges for me. challenge is good. small comfort when I'm sweatng it heavy up there, but its fact. when we're done, I meet shaun, and introduce he and jenna meet everybody and we head to their pad where they graciously have offered to put us up. they give us generous helpings of pillows and blankee's, and we get to sleep.

from watt:

   pop and move the boat from the lot behind jimbo's to wooster street. expensive in this town, twentyone bucks just for the night. I put it where we can watch it from jimbo's north-facing window. I do some band business then jimbo pops and brews up the cof (as in coffee). he shows me how loose his pants are, he quit boozing too - two hundred days now. all right, jimbo. we talk about a bunch of stuff but then it's time to go. never enough time on tour to spiel too long cuz there's the priority, the gig. this next one is gonna be in cambridge, mass and the third one in a row for me at _tt the bears_, which is a happening pad for me.

   bye bye jimbo, down the six flights and into the boat. the bridge and tunnelers (nj and conn folks) have plugged the roads up, it being a saturday so we gotta get to the west side highway quick. we do it at fourth, north through chelsea, pass that uss intrepid carrier which is now a museum (vince is tripping on how they could have a blackbird up thre but I tell him it's a museum, they can do anything they want w/out regard to reality - sort of like that reich 'n roll hall of shame thing in cleveland). northeast we go through the parkways - saw mill, cross country, hutchinson river and then the interstates, I-684, I-84 through hartford and finally east on what we call the richie blackmoore road, the mass pike (he used to wear a fucking pilgrim hat when I saw him in 70s) into boston and across the charles river to cambridge. getting there early is great cuz you get the kind parking, right outside the pad. still doing all the driving since that hand off to tom in colorado, my joints dig the vibrating of the wheel in the hand. when you do a bunch of gigs in a tour too, the drives ain't that long.

   the weather is great, all cleared up from the rainy stuff we got yesterday. I do some postcards and diary. that lady who was doing crosswords last tt's gig and being lame as all hell is now gone, I think she got scissored right after that. this soundman says he'll do better and at least pay attention. man, we don't ask for much but shit, please be aware the hour or so we're on the stage. sure miss steve reed. my friend walter comes by and it's good to see him. after soudcheck I practice j songs in the boat and then go get some soup at a korean chow pad. good "korean garden" kind w/all kinds of stuff in it, even a scallop and a muscle still in the shell. little bowl though, maybe that'll make for a littler watt. then back to the boat to konk. I'm beat, was up late last night talking w/jimbo. I miss the openers, _auto interiors_ and yet again, my friends in _bargain music_ - seems they got in very late and had to soundcheck as the were going on, dragging their time over the limit and seriously pushing us into curfew time. one a.m. is the scissor time here. I didn't realize this 'til later. our set is good though for the first third, I could tell vince in uptight - he's got lame sound in the monitors. he's grimacing big time and his playing is all bound up. the kick drum is hanging out and away, I finally notice it and shove it back in - wonder why the soundman couldn't hear that? vince will ask me the same thing later. I tell vince to relax and lighten up and his playing just changes dramatically, he's doing good now. you just roll over those impediments and give it your best in those situations, even though it's hard. tom does good. this crowd here is really nice and there's very much a warm and kind vibe in the bear tonight. I can't thank them enough but will anyway: thank you. there's mark and joe from warren, rhode island - great! we stayed at their pad last year after the providence gig and had the best time - joe and his spiel is the greatest. he's worried the mayor might've read the diaries! sorry joe. the soundman holds up an index finger for one more song. what? we got two more left, damn - now that stuff that happened w/the bargain cats has dominoed into a lame thing for us. see why shit's gotta be on the sched and not spaced or bogarted? us bands gotta take care of and look out for each other, we can't just blame things on the house guy or something beyond our control when shit is actually still in our hands. I wouldn't ask anyone to do anything I, myself, wouldn't do. I tell josh and skel this after the gig in front of the boss bonnie cuz I had said something on the stage to why was this happening when all we had to do was organize things just a little better, think of the big picture. they're nice cats and understand what I'm saying. I dig these tt folks and don't want them to think otherwise. when I open for someone, I'm thinking the same thing. one life is made of many gigs.

   we get to do some encores and then gotta quit and I gotta sling outside in front of the boat cuz I want the club to clear out and remain legal. lots of good feelings from the cats who came to the gig, I mean lots. I'm very touched. all different perspectives on why they like what I'm doing but a common sentiment of them being glad I made it through the sickness. I'm very touched. thank you folks. this whole tour I've been getting big hugs and well wishes regarding this and I can't say enough on how much it means to me. makes me wordless and just want to cry even.

   tom gets me a piece of pizza and we take two of vince's buddies, sean and jenna, along w/us cuz we're gonna konk at their pad in l.a. (lower alton), just over the charles. big adioses to everyone and we shove off. parking is tough so we gotta do it a few blocks away but sean says lots of cops live in the neighborhood so the boat's safe (!) - he says the cops here live where they work and things are different then what we're used to in our town. we get inside and I'm soaked so I take off everything, including that fucking "little white suit." this how I konk in pedro and I'm doing it here cuz I can't handle the wet - it was hot on that stage tonight. I am full w/electrified adrenalin flow within my body and just lay out straight as a board under the blankies. I'm vibrating so fast it's like a hum resonating through me. some how I konk though after I don't know how long. in my mind, the breakers and swells finally wash me up on that beach of sueno and I finally find peace.

sunday, october 8, 2000 - winooski, vt

from tom:

   as we cruise through the trees and the granite hills of new hampshire and I take snaps of the beautiful sights along the way. we find our way to burlington and then to wimooski and to the higher ground club. it's a fine place and a big room and we get in out of the cold and set up to do our check. tonight is also the first night that mike is playing with j. mascis and george in the fog, the band that mike will be continuing on tour with after our last show in orlando, fl. the bargain music clan makes their appearence and we chill out after the drive reminicing about the previous nine shows we did together. tonight is our final show together and we are going to miss each others company.

   never the less the day turns to night and soon the fog get on stage and ready to play. I can tell mike is a little nearvous about it, but they hardly show any sighns of letting it get the best of them. in fact it's amazing how good it sounds considering that they have never even practiced together. j.'s guitar is way out in front, I mean it's LOUD, but they get into a groove somewhere in the middle of their set and the crowd digs it, of course.

    bargain music is next up and the sound is really good for them, and even though it's a little less of a high energy set of theirs they do great and mike joins them onstage to sing on a song. it's a good send off gig and I'm sad that it's our last time together for a while. we have a fun show too and it goes by quickly and soon we are saying goodbye to our tourmates and moving on towards the next gig.

from vince:

   our drive up to vermont is filled with great views of the turning leaves and hills and gentle mountains that allow vermonters to refer to non-vermonters as flatlanders. we get to higher ground in winooski, and get to setting up for sound check with the circumspect george on knobs. it's a pretty big concert pad, well apointed and with kitchen and coffee bar along with a vast array of micro brews. we get word of a music store in nearby burlington, and I call to see if they've got a headset and tripod stand. they do! there's no time for me to go, but josh offers to go, a great favor, so I give him bread and he takes off with directions that were relayed to me by john at advanced music. we sound check. josh gets back with the goods, including new heads for my toms and snare which are getting pretty beat up. so we're set up again - no more boom mic for me, and a tripod stand for mike. this headset holds itself on my head better than any so far, and it was the right price at $105, so if it sounds good, I'm in business. at bargain music's sound check I play the A harp on their tune that mike's going to sing on. the club feeds us well with roast chicken, black beens, salad and great steamed broccoli, and everyone sits around and eats, strengthening the bonding vibe. I go down to the dressing room and soak some reeds to try and find a good one. whoa - out of four soaked reeds, two are great and one will do. a monumental success - a good omen, I hope. j. mascis, mike and george the drummer are playing their first gig tonight as j. masicis and the fog to open the show. they haven't practiced - j. just sent mike and george tapes, and mike has been playing to the tape to practice the stuff as we've driven around the country. they play first, and do a great job. j. sounds great, of course, and mike and george are playing great together. the tunes are really great. j. plays through a massive marshall stack, and his sound is huge and his guitar playing great. singing too. the bargain set is really good. phil is totally on - he always sounds good, grooving hard - but tonght he's blowing me away with his beats and fills. jeff's groove is deep and spacious, tre's guitar playing is lyrical and floating above the grooves sometimes, and digging into the big crunch chords and rhythms other times. he sounds great. skelly's raps are epic stories in great rhyme and rhythm and he gets the give and take going with josh, who is singing really great, and is a charismatic spokesman. and he can really play that melodica, floating with great melodies and phrasing really well - his skill in shaping his phrases with great subtlety and specificity reminds me of the great glorious master miles davis. I get up to play, and it's so cool to be playing on a reed that resonated with some beef. sean at the board does a great job mixing, and uses effects on the voice and instruments really well - he's a full fledged member of the band, with all privaledges responsibilities. and the delay he puts on the sax - not always, but according to context - is really fun to hear and use to shape the playing. and then it was time for the harp tune, and josh announces it, not knowing if watt is out in the van sleeping, or if he'll sing on the song. after the tune has started, mike strides out from the side stage door and takes the mic off the stand. it's a great entrance. we play percolator, with mic singing and me playing harp. the vibe is great. then it's off and bargain finishes up. it's our last show with them, and we will miss them.

   our set is real good, I think. the grooves are really cool, and I can hear tom really well and get in to what he's playing. I'm really digging the jams, churning up the rhythm with mike while tom mangles the guitar to release the dervish blasting. it's a pretty relaxed gig. mike and tom play great and I am able to play without thinking too much, to listen to the music and respond without an intermediary thought barrier.

from watt:

   I pop and then into the tub. it's a good soak but then - aaarrrrggghhh - I gotta get back into this wet fucking outfit. I gotta get to the boat and change. no fucking little white suit, just levis and this flannel - I'll carry the other shit in my hands. the boat is blocks away but whatever, I get there and change into dry. so great to feel dry sometimes, you know? the sun is out and the air brisk. I'm gonna pedal. I break out the little folder, put on a flannel on top of this gig one and go. I head from whence we came last night, down harvard towards cambridge and find a bike path on the other side of the charles, right near its bank. grea! lucky fucking watt. the port pedal, however, is fucking loose. damn. I tighten it as hard as I can w/my fingers and starting pumping up the blood pressure. I dig it. all along the water w/lots of trees and not many obstacles to make me stop. I can get up a good head of steam. down by the cambridge boat house and I cross over to the other bank and head the other way. the sun is putting spangles and big gleams on the water, it's trippy how this appears to me. like an inverted triangle, the light sparkling off the river seems like the hair on a woman down there, right above where the babies come. like a firecracker flickering floodgate awning for the birth canal - I see this too on the ocean when I take my morning rides in pedro. and w/all the motion of the water, it hypnotizes me almost it a dream state. I have to shake myself and stay aware, lots of folks out on the path for a sunday morning. I pass a run for cancer that's going on and continue on to almost the kenmore square area when I take a bridge back over to the other side. back down to that boat house one more time and I look at my watch - whoa, it's been a while out here, pedaling my heart out. I must get back and the pliers loaded in the boat and off for vermont. up into it's northern corner, up winooski, a new town for me.

   I get there and tom's got coffee for me from jenna's favorite coffee pad, dunkin donuts. there's some talk about italians and mafia stuff and my ma, being italian, has me challenging some of this stereotyping shit. sean, who's irish and has the best boston back bay accent ever talks about irish mob stuff - he gets the picture. I hope tom and vince do too. funny about that kind of shit, I think it gets reinforced by stupid fuck-all on tv and the movies too but mainly, just lazy thinking. italians invented fascism but why do the germans get all the credit (clearly I'm trying to make a point)? all ethnicities can be blamed for bad or praised for good. this is obvious if you sit down and think about it but the knee-jerk response is just to categorize and label. all of us in stupid fucking uniforms playing the blame game. I really wanna give myself a kick in ass when I do this idiot shit too. I know it happens even when I'm trying to avoid it.

   we say thank you to sean and jenna and I tell them to come see me w/j on halloween in cambridge when I'm a member of the fog along w/george berz. sean is going now to the longest continuously running fair in the u.s. wait a minute, tonight in winooski is going to be the first test for the fog! a combo prac/gig. I'm shitting bricks now. something to think about on the ride north. up on I-93 to concord, new hampshire and then on to winooski via the I-89 into vermont. we get gas in some little town called lancaster but we see some sign for a town called 'tewksbury' and want to hear how a local would say it and ask the ask the gas kid what's the town over. damn, he says ardmore - me and tom are doomed forever to be ignorant of how it's pronounced. we get some subs to get it behind us. I get a veggie one and pile the dave's limited edition shit fire sauce. sometimes I get emotional feelings that this stuff helps me w/if you can believe that. it a weird way I feel sensual (is that a stupid word to use?) inside the head and it stays there, as long as there's fuel to burn. I dig the ride. after it wears off, there's some great sites take my mind off of the impending scaryness of the fog debut. lots of granite rock showing through the most spectacularly autumn painted trees through both new hampshire and vermont. clouds are darkening and the wind is picking up. the thermometer in the boat reads fifty (farenheit). winooski is an indian word that means onion and it's just across the river from burlington. the pad we're playing is called _higher ground_ and it looks like a straight rock club. the boss is matt there and he's a nice cat. way into robert anton wilson and we talk about that for a bit when I get back from the bookstore. right when we unloaded, I got out the little folder and pedaled it across the river and up a pretty good hill where this old bone yard was. graves from the seventeen hundreds and shit, wild. then on to downtown burlington to get an umberto eco book for a friend. it's a beautiful story called "the island of the day before tomorrow" and it really made me cry at the end. I wonder if the boat is really the mind of the main cat in the book? it really made me think about myself, a perfect book about watt if anyone is curious.

   j comes w/george berz, the last cat to play drums w/dinosaur jr. louise is there too. I'm really scared about the gig. I so much don't want to let j down, I really respect this guy. it's just so hard for me to get my nerve up. I'm glad we're doing this to break the water. he's brought a marshall one hundred watt head and I put it through my top box and use my sunn through the bottom one. he's using only one stack but it is LOUD! george is using clear plastic ludwig "vistalite" drums like george hurley used early in the minutemen. he's a good drummer but trippy for someone his age. he plays like bill ward or john bonham - relaxed behind the beat a little but right there too. j's changed some of the keys of the songs from what they are on the tape and I choke on that. I choke really bad on one tune - I don't even know how to start it, what a fucking idiot, watt. damn. I've been practicing w/the pick sitting down and now standing up is really trippy to play w/it. what a bozo I am. I'm sweating buckets - I'm still wearing two flannels cuz I forgot to take off one. I blow many, man clams. damn. as soon as we're done I promise j I'll do better, I say the same thing to george. even though j broke many strings, his playing is tough, it's great. george too. both cats are something else and I have got to get it together so I can stand tall w/them. I'm such a fucking fold-up. I go behind the stage in the kitchen and am even talking outloud to myself about what I think needs to get done. I really want to do good for these guys, I really want to. this gig was a pants-shitter.

   it's the last bargain music gig w/us and josh wants me to sing "percolator." I'm outside the pad trying to explain myself to j when I hear the tune - damn, what an idiot, watt! I run in the pad and up the stairs to the stage and make it for the second verse and the coda. I also sing on this song on their record. I'm so embarrassed, sorry men. these cats have been great these ten gigs and it's gonna be sad to see them go. see you back home amigos (long beach is just across terminal island to pedro). our gig is good. really relaxed, maybe cuz I'm sort of emotionally drained but also, the pad has really good monitors and it's a little easier w/the spiel. the pliers, tom and vince, are a fist-full and I'm proud - great playing guys. this ain't really a big crowd, not even two hundred but they are very nice and I talk to them a long time after the gig while slinging the shit. first time here and they're very kind to me. apple man terry bradshaw (real name) offers up his pad and we bail there after packing up. I dig terry, he's great. he's about a half hour south but I don't care. he gives me an old hardback copy of "the sand pebbles" by richard mckenna cuz he's got two. I know who I can give this to (I already got one). that is one great book, I can't recommend it enough. helped me so much w/my opera, big time. it made me cry too but in a different way than the eco book. both of them touched watt so heavy - one from a thinker's man, a philospher man from italy and one from a working man, a sailor in the navy but what an a journey they both took me through, in and out of my heart and soul. many big thanks to both of you writers, much respect. both these books put stereo tele/microscopes on myself as I lay on terry's deck, swirling in thought. I wish they both would've never ended but end they had to and what a mind blow they put on me. books have a powerful effect on watt, the images the conjure are kind of like the dreams that take me when I konk and wind me up to wonder. those coils spring me out into konk before I know it and I'm damn if I ain't already out.

read week 3 of the tour diary

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this page created 15 oct 00