a word's-eye view from mike watt of the stooges in hugary, slovakia, netherlands, argentina (first time ever for those parts) plus belgium, spain and italy
sunday, august 13, 2006 - leuven, belgium
my sister melinda came friday to get me at 1:30 in the afternoon even though departure time for my jet to europe is 5:55 pm cuz there's big waits to be expected at the airport for extra security screening - two days before it was revealed the police in england broke up an alleged plot for using liquids as explosives for suicide bakas to blow themselves up on airplanes. "man, would you people channel your rage into some arts... if you're gonna offend, do it to some sensibilities and not body parts!" this is what I get to thinking immediately on hearing of these kinds of things. raging w/murder is some weak shit, even if you think you're creative at it. I don't mean to sound uppity or like I'm upset over security hassels and I really deep down mean on all levels about this stuff - that goes for national armies all uniformed up "correctly" and going about the war stuff too - we gotta grow up as a people and grow out of thinking violent shit is the answer, the killing, maiming and torture kind. I'm really not trying to wag the finger but put my hands up together into some kind of prayer 'pert-near about it all... it breaks my fucking heart. the lines were tiny and I put my toothpaste and gel/liquid stuff like that w/the bass which got checked in - you can do that, you can't bring into the cabin. in the cabin w/me, I take my small clothes sack and the 'puter one (backwackpack). the first flight is to amsterdam on an old 747 but still in good shape, klm (royal dutch airlines) keeps up on their shit. seems like everyone on the plane is dutch but me, I hear lots of their talk which is trippy to my ears and always has been - in a funny way like it seems like it's coming from their throat more than their mouth. it's soothing even, kind of.
oh, I should spiel some about last week since it was much a mindblow on me and has everything to do w/the stooges. five days after getting back from our last gig (the portugal one), I flew to miami to spend two full days w/iggy, one-on-one, to get the bass parts right for the new stooges songs on the upcoming album we're gonna start recording october seventh in chicago w/steve albini. to say I was a total nervous wreck would be a big time understatement but I knew it was something that had to be done and was very much grateful that ig was into doing it. he have me a cd w/fifteen songs labeled "secret plan" a bunch of months ago w/him, scotty and ron doing demos of the tunes and I came up w/parts mainly to learn the song forms and chords but in no way was I married to anything I came up w/and made this clear to ig. I told him I wanted to be "clay in his hands" and would follow his every direction. I stressed I had no personal ego invested in it at all, that I owed him and the legacy of the stooges the best notes I could play ever, like my whole life on bass has been adding up to be here in this moment though it's a total trip for me to even contemplate myself ever being in this position yet here I am and so be it. he had me stay at his pad in the little haiti part of maimi which is done up all righteous w/music stuff of his and art he's collected. his backyard is up against this little river (actually called "little river") and rented me a kayak so I could paddle in the morning before we'd start work. this helped me much w/my nerves but still I admit it was a pants-shitter for me - I have this continual nightmare where I see this headstone in a boneyard (understand I wanted to be cremated and my ashes scattered in the sea off san pedro when I die but this is how the nightmare goes) where inscribed in big letters is only "FUCKED UP A STOOGES ALBUM" and I always pop awake in a sweat when the letters finally come out of a blur and stand out clear. I have such a total fear of this, I just wanna do good for these guys, my heroes. let me say this now, ig's the best sensei (teacher) ever. he minces no words but yet nurtures you big time and inspires the best, even through all the layers of little boy fears I had piled up. he gave me some his picks - a couple right off of some of his guitars and asked me to use them on what turned out to be most of the tunes. I used a pick w/those j mascis + the fog tours I did in 2000-1 but it had been seventeen years since I did it then (since "buzz or howl..." minutemen days) and I went back to fingers when I became fogless (much respect still to j though) so it was a little palsy for me but not too lame and I'll work hard to get it going right - you use different muscles in both the hand and the forearm in contrast w/the ones you use for finger plucking. the way I see it, I both helping ig realize what he wants and adding to my own musical vocab. they're just different worlds and I believe it's best to try and get a handle on both, helps me keep learning which I think is key to living my life. we went over every tune, note by note - I had each demo from the "secret plan" cd as a tune in the garageband software on my aluminum purse mac powerbook and fed the headphone jack into this little ampeg amp he had while having my little gibson bass plugged into the 'puter so this way I could both show him what I came up w/and then also play his new parts he'd come up for me along w/what him, scotty and ron had played. it worked out easy and was also econo... no futzing or time wasted w/shit non-musical. it was what you might call "very productive" to say the least! ig was the best w/me too, his language is not obscure or spacey - it's right to the point and succinct. he also knows the tunes from the inside out and knows what they need to really breathe and live. us operating the machines can have our perspectives skewed to narrowness and not get the big picture. I truly believe ensemble playing (meaning more than one person) deserves and even demands all the parts coming together as a whole to SERVE THE TUNE - I can see no higher goal. whatever it takes to make this happens is real success in my opinion and ig I believe has much skills in realizing this ideal so he helped me much. he's also a blast to be around, very funny, smart and interesting. he is righeous and I love him. I had never spent so much time w/him alone and to be his student like that was a zenith in my lunatic life. after the first prac, he took me not too far away to miami beach and we laid in the sand and then swam in the ocean - man, the sea there is way different than cali w/it all warm and turquoise green. the sand is whiter and finer on the feet too. he had me drive his 1972 oldsmobile delta deluxe convertible - I don't think I ever drove a car w/that long of a hood and though I was scared to put the pedal all the way down, man, was this boat a mover, whoa! he took me to chow by the water w/nina the last night, after getting all the tunes down and I was a little bit calmer but still there was more intenseness to come cuz we flew to ann arbor (in michigan) the next morning to take the tunes to the asheton brothers and work on them for six days.
yesterday I got into the schipol airport in amsterdam at a little after one pm and had to dash cuz I got out at terminal f and had to make for terminal b - I got legs though to do that and unfortunately my bass doesn't. I called roadboss eric about it back at lax and told him there wasn't enough time in the layover but whatever may be will be so I just let it go. I see brother steve mackay and we're on the same flight for brussels, on a little fokker 50 turboprop. my seat's not next to him though, it's next to a cat from romania who hasn't been to europe in twentyeight years. he's a nice man and hips me to things about the east, like the reason finnish is close to hungarian is cuz attila's tribe split into two after his time and one part went north. he had some good thoughts on contemporary u.s. stuff too, quite an interesting cat. there were some guys in the seats behind us kind of scared cuz of the bobbing these little planes make but we made it safe to brussels, leaving a rainy holland for nicer weather here - they're so close too! well, sometimes so cal is like that, perk in the valley can have way different skies than us in pedro. the hoof to the luggage area is big time and me and steve both trip on this but we make it, just follow the little suitcase icon on the signs. well, we make it to the luggage but it looks like my bass hasn't (ninth time now w/the stooges!) so I make a claim and this driverman named bruno takes us to the royal windsor hotel in the center of brussels. it's only a couple of blocks from the grand place (or grote platz - in belgium there's two languages spoken: french and flemish) where all these huge buildings are from the seventeen century. there's a huge open space in the middle (the platz or plaza) and the belgians have laid out this "flower carpet" in honor of the midsummer holiday coming on the fifteenth. it's around six and not a lot of light for snaps w/all the tallness built around it so I go to this chow pad I was at last year and have kabap w/salad and fries. I get back to the 'tel and scotty calls so I go up to visit, great to see him again. he wants to hoof so after he chows, I take him to see the mannekin pis statue, near platz (he's tripping on the story of brussels being saved by this little kid pissing on a fire that threatened it) and across from it is a bar called mannekin pis so we have some beers called "kwak" and it's really good. belgians really brew a taste in their beers all their own, kind of fruity and they can be strong too - these were eight and half percent. after some good spiel, we hoof back to the 'tel and ron joins us for some three-way spiel that's very interesting (I love being w/the asheton brothers) but I guess I was tuckered cuz I konked and scotty had to wake me so I went and resumed the konk in my quarters.
gig day and I beat a quick hoof out the hatch after a hose-off, not realizing there's a free breakfast shovel here at the 'tel, idiot watt. I find a pad near where I chowed last night and have coff, eggs, bacon and toast that's 'pert-near u.s. style. have yet to try a belgian waffle - they look pretty pastried-up w/all kinds of topping stuff on them. I got out early to try and be ahead of the tourista herd but they're right behind... I make it down to the platz and get lots of shots of the flower carpet and the buildings all around now that I got sun and before maybe it gets too bright and bring on those long shadows it can do to snaps. there's all kinds of winding tiny roads in this part of brussels and I just follow them around for the sake of being free of a grid though if it was brand new to me, I'd probably get lost but I know this area kind of ok now, remembering lots of from last year's trek here. around one pm I realize there is a gig later so I decide not to put too much wear on my legs, knees, ankles, feet, whatever and get back the 'tel to chimp some (hoofing don't wear too much on the fingers). I see helperman as I'm coming in and pay him fifty u.s. dollars for the cleaning he had to have done cuz I puked in his ma's car... so sorry, chris. I check at the desk and find my bass arrived - alright - once again it finds me after getting lost. later in my cabin, all done chimped and all caught up, I guess my body wanted to get caught up too cuz I konked there right on the deck (I was leaning up against a bulkhead to work the 'puter for diary) for like six hours, damn! well, I must've needed it - a konk debt was in need of a sleepytown payment. funny, I look down at the 'puter and the last word I chimped was "anddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd" - I konked w/my fingers on the fucking keys! I'm thinking the hell w/chow and get soaked some in the tub so I can be shake the sandman's deposits just visited on me.
it's a half-hour drive from our 'tel to the gig in leuven and at 9:35 pm bruno, the driverman who got us from the airport, is at the wheel and takes us to this market square where the stage is. the square is more like a rectangle w/folks packed all the way out long-ways. we're taken to an old building right stage starboard and tourboss henry tells me "all the way to the top, watt" and so I do but it's acutally one short of that though still five flights up. acutally, cuz of my knees, it's easier going up then down and anyway, if I ever have the option, I use stairs over 'vators w/no prob - feel safer and what's wrong w/working the heart when you can? there's one porthole and it's toward the stage and ron's pretty grossed by the band before us, something really generic - I don't know who but they're working the crowd w/some pretty weak banter - I can't tell the accent even, maybe they're u.s.? it's pretty much easy for me to ignore it cuz I'm excited about the cherry for this latest string of gigs. even though we didn't play one of the songs we're playing tonight last week, I still think w/all that playing together, it'll be happening. tiny room to pace but we find the space to do our laps. I put on a t-shirt my new missingmen drummer raul made for me, a white one that's a screen of a flyer for a gig one of the bands he's in (a pedro one), called the leeches played along w/a couple of others. raul's starting to make shirts w/his buddy, kid kevin, in the old peck mansion where he lives now over on fifteenth street in pedro. him and tom watson our in my new trio, mike watt + the missingmen and our first three gigs are at the end of september, opening up for a cat named m. ward who asked for me and though I had to look up what he sounded like on the internet (he's from portland), I sure thought that was nice of him. one of the three gigs is at the fillmore so I ask saxman steve mackay to join us for a version of "fun house" cuz that'd be a trip, I like much playing w/steve. last time I was up in his parts (last year), the day after doing the monterey jazz festival (by the way, someone put up a video of bayan doing "fun house" in monterey though the credit me as to playing "base"), steve joined us in s.f. at the galaxy club for 'pert-near the whole set and I really dug it, getting to stand between him and painter norton wisdom. we're on at 11:25 which is late for a festival gig and makes for kind of a long wait too, me only getting my bass a couple minutes before having to hike down the stairs to the room ig's in on the ground. man, I feel really naked w/out my bracelot on - I spaced and forgot after some tub soak, baka watt. I realize this taking these stairs cuz I believe that thing brings me much stage luck - all my tour totems do... aaaaarrrrgggghhh, I'll just have to bear down and do the best I can do. ig's got nina's camouflage pants on - says they're more comfortable than his jeans. he's pretty anxious and hollers much while hugging himself cuz it's kind of chilly. I ask him about the duet he just did w/chrissy hind for some vh1 thing and he said it went ok. scotty tells him he ran a great prac last week and I couldn't agree more. a few minutes pass and then finally it's time... henry leads us out to the stage and then eric brings us across behind the curtain cuz ig likes us coming on stage port. ig says "are we ready? then let's fuckin' go!" and I run across (me going first makes sense since I gotta go the furthest) and plug my bass in, hmm... what will it sound like? so trippy about just doing it but that's what we do. scotty clicks ron in and the opening chord of "loose" rings out... we're off. hey, my setup sounds great - I gotta svt-II pro and an svt-IV pro, each w/it's own 8x10 cab, them both sideways and stacked up on top of each other (the usual cab setup) and they're in great shape, you're always surprised by what you get w/a rental but theses are happening. even w/some coldness, my fingers move good and aren't stiff - must be from all the prac last week. the entire market place and street in front of us is full of peeps, including people on balconies and looking out windows... ig sings and dances up a storm for them! it's a little hard to hear scotty's snare drum so I stay kind of by his kick cuz I dearly don't wanna get lost - even for a sec. "down on the street" follows, our cues are down tight. there's jos to my starboard - first time I've seen since portugal and he's in a striped dress shirt - part of his airport travelling outfit, he usually is in a suit for that (he must think I'm a heathen, I'm using my regular blue wrangler shirt though it's got some burn holes up front). next we fire up "1969" and my sweat is getting worked up some, even w/the coolness in the air - I'm glad eric set a floor fan up for me so I can get in its blowing shaft of air when I want. "I wanna be your dog" is next and though scotty counts ron in for the rift, it gets a little bit blurry but we're all together once it all kicks in. the stage we're on is a high one and ig has to climb down to get into the crowd instead of diving cuz there's a huge moat of vacantness in front and also it'd be quite a fucking plummet. I wouldn't be surprized if he did try and leap that chasm though, knowing ig cuz that's the kind of consummate cat he is and why he's a huge hero in my life - not for daredevil whatever but just his superhard work ethic, it's righteous. next on the list is "tv eye" and I vibrate all up - feeling some soreness in my calves but I still can help but shake like I am though I have to move closer on the drums cuz of the snare sounding tippy-tap to me. scotty is not a tippy-tap drummer though - he's got a glove on his left hand (remember what hank rollins said: "it's all about scotty's left hand") he got at a hardware place for construction and it's got little rubber grippers - he siad those ziljan ones eric got him are too slippery. we nail the "ram it!" parts even w/ig bringing them in real early and the song is smoking, damn. ig gives a good "up/down" spiel for "dirt" and when I come in w/dave alexander's bass line and he's about to start singing, he points to his ear and I know I'm laying into it a little too heavy so I ease off some. he likes me playing hard though ("not like a pussy") so I still put some attack in it but I'm really into reading him for direction cuz this cat really knows how to run a stage, it's righteous. lots of heads-up in this band so if crowd folks are wondering why I ain't searching their faces it's cuz I'm busy w/this team on stage. ig see those folks out there though and tells them he can - "hey, I see you over there... you w/the blue shirt... hey, how you doing old dude? alright!" we switch gears into full roar for "real cool time" and somehow belgian folks get up on the stage when ig beckons for them, pretty amazing given what they gotta climb to get up. I get a lady kiss/hug which is kind of different but many man hugs which is not at all - I get a kick out of enthusiastic cats having a good time, it makes me really happy and I play my brains out. there's this guy who puts his head in my speaker cabinet and lets it blast up much - this is not a quiet band on stage - well, he goes and gets his buddy to show him what he's hearing and I see them both w/their heads just an inch from all those bass speaking ripping it out full-on and they're digging it. alright. all the dancing doesn't let up for "no fun" either, these are some cool people up here dancing away. much respect to all of them. many hugs and handshakes as the leave after, a very together group of uninhibited folks who still are considerate not to bogart when their time is done. iggy introduces us and this time he says "on bass guitar, mike watt" which is different but I'm very touched as always by his graciousness and bow three times deeply to him. he introduces scotty and ron but nothing about himself and instead has us lauch right into "1970" which plows hard. steve makes his entrance in the coda and ig introduces him... notes swirl into the "mindroom" 'til he calls for "fun house" and then he kicks up a dance and leap scene while he's singing that is crazy good and wild, whoa. I asked jos earlier for more scotty snare in the sidefills but maybe that's all I can get so I still have to come back to the drum riser frequently and check in where the one's at - no, I'm kidding a little but not that much. what I really wanna do is steps like iggy and I try but I got some sore calves holding me back a little - no cramps anywhere though and I'm grateful for that. I do four teethpulls for some high 'd' on "l.a. blues" along w/some deck crumple and bass-as-bologna in a me-and-the amps-sandwich thing... our bossman's got me inspired! cuz the amps are roaring so hot, it's way easy to make them feedback hard 'til scotty hats us in for "skullring" and I back off the bridge pickup some (I had put more of it up since "1970") to fatten the peter-gunn bottom. right when we finish, ig hollers "double dog" and we close our set like that - "little doll" got scissored but ig know how to read a gig. he tells "just '...electric chair'" backstage but when we get out there and do it (damn if my 'g' string wasn't out of tune for my solo - I'm phrasing for an eight bar thing too when it's twice that... gotta get it together more!), "dead rock star" and then "not right" are our last songs for the night, both w/the band tight. ig does a runner, right to an awaiting car and we head up stairs from whence we came. hey, that was a very happening gig for me and I dug it much but ron thinks it was a tough crowd. hmm... different perspectives... he did say we played good though scotty said he had a hard time w/'pert-near no drums in the monitor. ain't it a trip how the same gig can live different in individual dudes?! that's why when I see some political campaign billboard saying "he says what WE think" I wanna fucking puke big time. what kind of shit is that anyway? some cats from the website for this festival (oh, I think I forgot to mention which one it is cuz damn, belgium has a lot of them now days - this one is the "marktrock festival" and I think it's the most belgians we've ever played for) do an interview w/me and steve mackay - steve does some great spiel so I'm listening to him more than spieling myself (like when I do it w/ron too). they're really good peeps and give steve some event t-shirts... I try one on and scotty says I look like I'd be on a golf course w/it so I give mine to eric. I like button shirts anyway (only wearing t-shirts at gigs cuz ig wants that instead of me in flannel) - even more, I like snaps cuz when the shirt's ready for coming off, it's getting off quick! I can dig that.
the adrenaline starts to wear off and joint pain starts to really kick in on me and I mention it to the guys. ron says he's got advil (ibuprofen) but I drank a beer and am half way through another one - I know better but for some stupid fucking reason, I eat two. I know that shit don't mix and have always avoided that but finally when it's time to leave (like two and a quarter bells!), I ain't got the best stomach sitting on me and shit, I'm still aching like hell anyway so what the fuck did I do that for - my poor liver trying to metabolize some plastic and alcohol simultaneously, fucking baka watt. we get back to the 'tel and I get right up to my chamber deck and hug it face-first quick, then konk. out.
tuesday, august 15, 2006 - budapest, hungary
yesterday I popped early and this time get the free shovel downstairs and it's pretty good... take down lots of fruit (especially prunes) to get the things moving, am not used to egg/bread/cheese shovel over here cuz back home I've cut way back on that but then we don't have the quality of that stuff either. now a few doors down from the 'tel is this little shop called "marco polo" that has these little figurines crafted from images out of hieronymus bosch painting and I find these very much a trip. I get four of them for 128 euros total (about $158 u.s.) which is big coin for me to spend on tour. I get the "kitchen witch" whis is some scrotum-bellied lady sitting w/a ladel and basting some guy on a spit. number two is the "castle monster" which is some little schloss w/arms swinging a hammer w/a beak coming out the top, a funnel for a hat. number three is some blue creature play it's nose which is like a clarinet/soprano sax kind of thing (it's got boots and an extra pair of legs behind it too) and finally an "egg monster" which is a big cracked egg w/a piece missing to show a head in there, boots coming out the side and a giant arrow piercing the whole deal lengthwise. trippy. I pack them all careful in one box, using toilet paper and plastic bags and it just fits into my clothes sack. I hoof some more to get more snaps after packing and meet everyone at new at the cars heading for the airport. we're flying to budapest for my first gig ever (stoooges too, for that matter) in hungary. we're taking an avro jet, those smaller ones that have four little jets and lucky watt has helperman chris sitting next to him to stuff the sack in front of him cuz no way will either it or the backwacksack fit in the overhead. two and half hours of flying and we're down at the feirghly airport and the weather to meet us is sunny w/huge clouds verging. we're on a minibus to the center of budapest - actually the flat east side of the danube river there (they call it the duna) which is called "pest" and the west side hilly side is called "buda" and hence the name we know it as. I learn that one out of five hungarians live in this town, the next place smaller is a tenth of budapest's size. whoa, for sure their biggest apple. we're at a place called the sofitel about a block from the water. it sure is pretty and there's huge boats that go up and down, restaurant/sightseeing trips. night comes on and it's really neat by the water here w/the mildness enough to have me this perpetual blue shortsleeve shirt. there's some weird stuff but it's still pretty.
gig day I hit the shovel part of this sofitel pad right when it pops at seven bells. this 'tel is laid out like the one in adelaide (australia) where all the rooms' hatches face each other w/a big open middle space so you can see everything going on and the breakfast shovelling going on below. I shovel big time, 'pert-near to bloat (like a baka), don't know why but I did have a weird dream where my pop was trying to tell me something really important but I can't remember what it was, all I remember was how intent he was on me getting it through my thick skull... what a fucknut I am. I can still se his eyes narrow on me and him all serious. he used words careful when he was like this - I mean you wouldn't know it knowing I was his boy but he was like that... yeah, him being a chief too but he was like that... he was different, he used pauses and such. anyway, I wasn't about to sit w/this goddamn bloat on my fucking gut so I was determined to hoof that shit off and take the "chain bridge" across the duna and trip on the huge castle/palace on the hill opposite us. it's called the budavar (var = castle) and it's really big, a whole little town inside it. damn. I hoof all over but can't get in the labyrinths like I wanted to cuz I didn't change over and monies to forints (about 200 forints to the u.s. dollar) but I saw tons and got lots of good pics. across the river from the north side is the big hungarian parliament building on the pest side, lots of renovation being done on it, pretty impressive. there's a lot of climbing involved but that's good on burning cals so I'm into it. I don't wanna get burned out for the gig though so I hoof back in the early afternoon. the sun's out good now, probably no rain coming which is good for showtime. I think some of last night by the water and all those prosti ladies asking me for work and then reading about this koizumi prime minister guy of japan visiting a shrine w/war criminals buried there, most likely for votes. I mean, what's the difference? I guess one thing to take in account is that it's the sixtyfirst anniversary of them surrendering to a war they got going... now it'd be better for someone like me to use examples from my own land to point shit like this out and not being soft and making it look like I'm fingerpointing at foreigners but maybe that's cuz I'm a foreigner at the moment, I don't know... war criminals: creeps me out. streetwalkers compare nothing to anything like that. I don't know what's in me, maybe all the flagsickness I get. I get weird thoughts at home too. the nuke bombing birthdays just were past too... maybe that figures some? patriotic relativism... russians ran tanks down these folks' streets after putting up a liberation lady statue when the nazis were booted... all this crazy shit, the mud of history - all parades should have people marching in muddy boots, making them very heavy. maybe it's all that chow on my gut, or getting shoved through my pipes about now. I was a fucking pig - why, cuz I could, cuz it was free? christ. where's my fucking bass? this is a problem I find w/me chimping thoughts (you could be generous and even call it some kind of writing)... there's no way I can get the expression right for the way I feel and even chimping something close just leads my head to go somewhere else and develop it further so what might seem as something as a "definitive statement" coming from me couldn't be further from the truth. it makes me almost wanna write nothing but that would be way coward so maybe by me calling myself on my own limitations might give whoever is reading this some understanding that I am not so full of myself and hard-on confident in the totality of my spiel. I get thoughts and those lead to others and I let them out of my head but that is my bottom line or the last word - life is too complicated for such a bogart on it and ain't there enough hubris being spewed to drown us all in at least a hundred-fold? fuck that shit. take watt spiel w/a grain of salt, please cuz I deserve it.
we're playing earlier tonight, on stage at six pm so we shove off from the 'tel at four. it ain't so far to where this gig is, an event called the sziget festival is on obudai island, like twenty or something feet from the buda side of budapest in the danube, a few miles north of the 'tel but it takes a bit cuz of all the traff causing a plug. a trippy thing too is that the main stage (where we're playing) is right in the middle of the festival grounds so that means driving the van we're in straight through the crowd (not over people though) to get to the "backstage" of where we need to be while passing the bungie-cord, breeches buoy, crafts and chow tents, etc on the way. pretty gnarly logistics, kind of but one great thing is the weather that's like my pedro town is mostly except for some huge clouds in the sky (but far apart enough to make it really sunny) yet still there's no cold, really hot heat or humidity - really nice and I'm digging it much. I got a t-shirt my missingmen drummerman raul made of a 1970 picture of syd barrett where he's giving an open-mouthed view of his molars, blue image on white cotton. I'm very happy to find all the dressing rooms are converted from "cans" (containers used for shipping) cuz this reminds me much of the harbor back home. the crew guys have come to predict my responses when I see good weather and/or containers - eric especially mocks me (in good nature) w/shouts of "cali weather!" and "cans!" as we leave the van. the only bummer is us stooges band guys have a trailer camper for a dressing room - the only one around - ig gets a can of his own though so that's cool. next to us is a can for the band before us who has just started playing, living colour. I played on a bill w/them at uc davis in cali during the early 90s and got to meet their mainman vernon reid there. I also find out they got dough wimbish on bass (an awesome cat who I dig very much) and an equally monster bass guy who's singing lead instead of bass working named dug pinnick (from king's x), whoa. since we're behind the huge stage setup, I watch them on a tv (can you believe it?!) while warming up on the little bass. when they come off, both dough and vernon see me and give big hugs. I saw doug play last october in huesca, spain when me and my original secondmen shared a festival bill w/mark stewart (singer from the pop group) + mafia, he gave mark much intense crazy bottom and also some very ripping solos, all fuzzed and sustained. he wants me to show him my bass and I'm very pysched to have him lay his hands on it and work up the strings... I'll have some good vibes to bring on board for our gig for sure!
it's great being right behind the stage in some ways cuz it's easy to make our way to where we're gonna work. six bells comes up and we follow ig up to the stairs and he asks if we're ready and then says "let's do it!" and so I run out first and hook my bass after putting my glasses on scotty's riser. looks like I have two ampeg svt-IV pros, each w/an 8x10 cab stacked on top of each other sideways (and belted) like usual. what will sound like? we'll see... quick cuz scotty hats ron in for "loose" and the gig's underway. iggy's got nina's camouflage pants on again - when steve asked about it last gig, he said they're comfortable. the stage is a little shallower than usual (I find out later we're eleven feet from the front edge than the usual twelve cuz of a band called the prodigy bogarting some space) but I like it closer, always... I mean sometimes w/perkins, he's got his cymbals hitting me so maybe a tiny bit of room but I like it good and tight. man, I wonder if doug wimbish is watching, I get a little scared of that but then stuff that feeling down and use it to help me churn it up more. the hungarian folks are very responsive and the open air crowd goes all the way back and all the way to the sides, whoa. iggy's working the stage w/much running port to starboard, back and forth. man, it's the best thing in the world for me to get to play along w/him and the asheton brothers, I know I say that lots but I can't help it. ig yells for "down on the streets" and I'm laughing a little at how blown the speakers are in this rig I'm working, the lows are nowhere - zip punch. one good thing though is the sing loud from iggy and scotty's drums in good w/the sidefills to fight any drumdoubt on where I am, I'm way into that. on my knees while ig gets up my amps for ron's solo - his guitar's sound good and of course I'm gonna go get an earful soon enough, shoving my head into his speakers but for now I'm either in front of my amp or scotty's drums. scotty's roaring w/the tempo thing, "1969" is next and pretty amped but as long as everyone's doing it together, right? on to "I wanna be your dog" and I see ron move beside and behind his amps like he usually does for when the dancers come up but it's that time yet... maybe some stuff is flying up on stage - he always tells me it's a little scary when ig comes in front of him cuz sometimes there's bozos in the crowd who want him in moving target mode for their shit to heave at him - I don't see anything but maybe it's coins which are too little for me to detect w/my glasses off. iggy climbs down to get into the crowd cuz the moat's way to wide for even a javelin-toss leap to make. crazy shaking dervish time next for me and "tv eye" and my calves are in much better shape than last gig so I can let the spirit grab me up more and and respond likewise. this is the tune I get a head full of ron's solos, yeah - down on my knees I go! I tune up for "dirt" while iggs gives the intro spiel, this tuner seems to have a hard time getting steady. we got a new ending that iggy ready us for ahead of the show, he does a "this life" refrain at the end where he used to lay out but the whole band is heads up and we nail it. "real cool time" rushes in and we're blasting straight ahead, pumping it hard. the stage isn't too high up and there's even some stuff to climb up on in front but when ig calls for dancers to come up, some idiot "security" thugs start manhandling them really rough. assholes, this is bullshit. iggy even hugs onto one kid, making it obvious to the bondheads that they're gonna have to go for him if they wanna keep beating on that young man. somehow, someway, those w/some incredible cojones get on stage w/us and dance their hearts out, it's very admirable to witness. I feel so much their joy as they dance around me and give me lots of airfists and thumbs up, one cat even telling me "thanks, mike" - much respect to you, brother. we slam right into "no fun" and the dancing gets even more wild but never violent or threatening - only a real cool time. much hugs when we finish, "kosonam" (I don't know it's spelled but that's how "thank you" in hungarian sounds) to all the hungarian dancers. ig says it's time to introduce the band and again I'm just "mike watt" and give three big bows, then big airfists when he calls out scotty's and ron's names. ron starts up "1970" but his volume knob is all the way down so he gives another go and we're in hard. trippy playing w/this much sun out but it ain't blazing in the eyes and I do have a fan on stage though it's aimed at my knees so it's very happening when a lighting man puts the angle up on it. jos helps out even more by moving it up a little closer on me, big thank yous to him. ron's got some real skreeches and howls to start "mindroom" up now - that's when steve gets his intro from ig after making his entrance. when he's ready, iggy hollers "fun house" and I get my shot at starting us off - it's the only tune I do that in the set. I can't hear the sax too well at this time but I'm wondering if steve got in strong - he told me last gig he came in a half-step flat after eric called him on it... everyone's listening w/this team - no cruise control! it's probably one of the wilder versions of this tune in a while - I'm amped up for it big time, seeing doug wimbish watching us from stage port. it's ready burst at any moment but we hold it all together... a bit of a breather in a sense for "l.a. blues" but not in a way cuz it's so much a freakout w/the fuck the amp, pound the deck, bite the strings, etc. good shit. "skull ring" storms out like a steamroller and I see some pit action in the crowd - I got a glance when usually I hardly ever look out cuz my focus is on the stooges 'pert-near totally. no more of that crazy chant thing ig had for "little doll" last round of gigs but there is a "let's get back to africa" and things slow down a bit but don't even a little get less intense. someone throws up a pair of aviator sunglasses, funny. when I get a shot, I put them on the drum riser so I don't trip on them. immediately we're into "little electric chair" like ig asked us to do before the gig - I can really tell iggy enjoys this tune now that we've re-worked it. I don't know about my bass solo though, I should get it together. everybody else does good - scotty does a trippy snare-on-every-beat for a bit even. we finish up and ig hollers right away for "double dog" and there's tangle-up and scotty does the intro twice but I'm right w/him, including the rapido tempo he's got worked up for it. whoa, iggy's screeching the lines in a emotion-drenched testament of a rendition for this baby. we come off stage and ig says one more, "not right" after a few minutes, scotty a little winded. we do a tight turn on the tune and the gig's done, intense response from the hungarian folks - a very good crowd to work for, much respect to them.
big hugs from doug - he calls me miguel, alright. hugs from vernon and he talks to me about music w/genre, how it really is and the thought of all kinds of ideas coming from all kinds of different approaches to make music, exciting things and combinations. alright, I'm into that... anything short of that is just that: short. we cool down some and ig comes to talk w/me and ron. he tells us there's gonna be a prac tomorrow in slovakia in his 'tel room w/just me and ron joining him to get that bass solo in "...chair" right. I'm ready to learn, absolutely. he says "you're a godsend to this band" and I bow very deeply to him but he continues, "this band is made from sounds we heard five years before we started it and five years after" and "I wanna give you some direction and reference on getting it together" which I can all the way understand and am very grateful. he'll help me. ron will help some. I wanna help these guys by getting right so bad, I'm gonna do better and learn, learn, learn. thank you, ig. eric tells me the chow's good and I go have some duck (not greasy!) in this great gravy which orange colored potatoes (paprika on them?) and a goose egg sized/shaped pickle that the cook calls a melon - the tastes from all the combine for a righteous gig in my mouth, very happening. I finish and then see dug pinnick and give him my respects and we talk a little bass, alright. there's one more basser, karl alvarez from billy stevenson's band all and he's here w/a nyc band and I wanna come see him play but after a tv interview (the put some makeup on me - what? at least not too kabuki) and then a radio one (a cat who's a big local hero accompanies me w/a big mustache, asking where's mine and have to tell him I cut it off last week but I show him my cali driver's license and he says "good, cuz a man w/out a mustache is like a woman w/one"), eric says the boat's shoving off so I'm sorry to have missed him. we get back out whence we came, through all the folks south of the mainstage though once we're off the island, it's much faster getting back to the 'tel than coming from. we pass a pad called "sailor's inn" - yeah, "sailor's inn" in english and I'm wondering why since most everything else is in hungarian. steve tells me "well, sail her in." alright, steve.
back at the 'tel, me and scotty sit at a table next to one where ron and chris are chowing in the restaurant. henry comes and joins us. early gigs are great for me cuz well, it's early when you're done but then the adrenaline still runs out when it does (which ain't too long after) and I bail soon after henry and rik join the group. sailor down. no cramps or big joint soreness but just tuckered. I tried hard but gotta try harder, I know... and konk knowing that.
thursday, august 17, 2006 - piestany, slovakia
I pop at seven bells, hose off and shovel from the free trough quick cuz I wanna do some postcards before we shove off. the post office is close and I get everything squared in time to load up in the vans for the ride to slovakia. I'm w/the crew guys and since we got only one minivan, we're packed up full w/me sharing the back bench w/gear but it's ok w/me, I got the ipod wailing the creedence on me hard. I guess a little too hard though cuz I thinking I'm stomping up a storm... as I write this now, I wish I could apologize for probably driving rik hart crazy. the drive north through hungary is beautiful and reminds me sort of like kansas cuz of all the sunflowers being farmed, lots of corn too. seems we took a wrong turn somewhere though cuz we cross into austria before getting into slovakia, oops. I think the other ride got into peistany (about fifty miles northeast of brataslava) about an hour a head of us... we pull into this nice little 'tel called prava, right on the bank of the river vah. w/in fifteen minutes of arriving, I'm up in ig's room w/ron there w/him. I get verbal direction from iggy while ron plays my bass as musical sidebar and I soak all I can in. they school me good, I then go straight to my chamber and construct a solo for all sixteeen bars they want me to do it in - I prac on it w/my little bass over and over so I hope to god I don't space and fucking clam it when it comes time to do. ig wants it more inside the chord w/the root on the one and lots of walking on the chromatic, getting up and down in variations but not letting the bottom fall out cuz it's not like the band really opens for me here and so I gotta still support and not inject drama (via melody, whole steps or getting high up the neck) - he said "you know, like larry graham." all he said makes really good sense and excellent perspective - he's one righteous sensei and ron helped much too by playing what he did for me. I love these guys and don't wanna let them down. night comes and scotty asks me to chow w/him - the gigboss is springboarding for the chow and I have a steak w/sauce they is pretty spicy but maybe that's to them cuz w/my habanero experiences, it's pretty tame but no matter cuz it tastes really good. we rap a good long time w/a gig helper named gabriel who's a very happening cat. I then go up to prac my solo for "little electric chair" some more before konking.
it's gig day and I pop at eight (for watt: late) and hose off, then get down to the chow area to have some fried eggs the cat down there cooks up w/the bacon right in it, alright. I prac on my bass that solo before helperman chris comes to take it cuz he's gotta get to the gig and get everything readied. I then head into town to check it out but have to take mind snaps cuz I spaced and left the digicamera at the 'tel. I find a falafel pad and chow one of those for 68 kronen, a little more than two dollars u.s. I wonder if most slovak towns are like this cuz it's almost straight of some kind book where you'd find a little central europe town that somehow was not beat down by the history wailed on it and hardly beatdown parts that I hoof parts, not even much communist legacy built-on-the-cheap crumble either. it is smallish but I'm totally new to these areas and don't know much. I do notice the talk is really close to the slav I hear in back home in pedro where lots our immigrants speaking that came from the dalmatian coast parts of the former yugoslavia. I related this to gabriel last night and he confirmed the connection and also siad there's a hungarian minority too - he's part of that. I go back to the 'tel to chimp diary and the tv's on, maybe the cleaning people had it going but it's cnn. there's a story about an old lady in japan who was a nurse during the second war and now wants to tell of a secret she's kept all these years, about bodies that were used in experiments being buried where buildings were built over later. she says they deserve to have the truth told about them. obviously she's not like that clown w/the war shrine visit that just went down. I think she's a brave lady and am glad for people like that.
showtime is 10:15 tonight so we bail from the 'tel a quarter to nine cuz the drives are pretty tiny in this smaller town, the gig being on a big fairgrounds. this event's called the hodokvas festival and we're brought behind a huge outdoor stage to a big tent w/a partition in it, one side for us and one for ig. we're way close enough to very much hear a band from england called the addicts playing what kind of sounds like oi, w/it's two-step oompah beat and pub chant backups. I think I remember these guys some time back for dressing like droogs from "a clockwork orange" but have no way of seeing them from where we're at so I don't know if they still got that look. there's also more sound competition from a tent blasting very loud rave loops somewhere near. whatever, I gotta prac that sixteen bar solo I've come up w/to replace the bunk shit I've been letting loose on the fly in the re-worked "little electric chair" and I sure hope I both don't choke on what I wrote.. I'm wishing hard what I did come up w/is something that iggy, ron and everyone on board thinks is ok. like paul newman said in that "the hustler" movie, "it's not the odds, it's the weight" though I wonder if the odds of me always seeming to be prone to getting flustered might be weighing in w/its own odds. what I gotta do is impregnate the piece into the memory of my muscles so I don't have to rely on thinking straight, if I can just will it and not have to mentally issue orders for each move. what I got is contrasting up/down figures working the chords real close to the roots of each two-bar trade-off that hopefully keeps everything chugging though for a little trip on the resolve I put in something iggy told me he thought r and b bassists did when they got it together was an octave pedal he thought for sure jimmy hendrix heard from playing w/little richard, the riff he used for "foxy lady." I got no amp so I can't hear anything and the band on stage is making very contrasting sounds to what I'm playing to in my head but I figure if I can muster the discipline to work it w/this kind of distraction, than maybe I gotta a shot of overcoming my fucked-up nerves when it comes time to do. oh, costume note: I've got another shirt missingmen drummerman raul printed up for me of this happening so cal punk zine called "razorcake" - in black is printed the name, then a little broken dog bone under w/"por vida" (for life) below that on yet another white t-shirt... all four gig shirts this gig run are white t-shirts. raul was so great to help me this way cuz I do wanna different shirt for each gig and I don't really have the biggest collection. shit, I could easy from all the stuff bands give me but I am partial to buttons - wait, I've gone on about this before, I know... there's some cans of sardines and tuna for us but I hold off on chowing them and instead pocket one each for later. helperman chris comes by and opens a bag of "baguettis" - tiny cracker baguettes. the crap chow over here in europe can be as imaginative as the crap chow back home, even for newcomers like slovakia. the gig boss milosch comes by and gives me some cds of slovak bands which I'm real grateful for cuz I wanna play it on my watt from pedro show. steve goes out of the tent to prac his sax some and sets off a car alarm w/it, oops. man, time is dragging for me but I make sure to stuff it w/iterations of this fucking solo I don't wanna clam. the addicts finish up and I can actually hear what I'm doing slightly and it sounds like I wrote it - I can't tell you how easy it is to have the right notes but loose the phrasing like a fucking 'tard (though it being lots of walk helps!) and now I'm starting to worry about rushing it - what was that tempo? when you prac things over and over, you can laze out and bluster through just to get it done... the weak parts of the mind, always looking for ways to somehow shirk, somehow find some shortcut - bullshit. iggy's hollering to warm up so I go into the nightair and both prac and frat 'til eric needs my bass for a quick check and that I get it back w/ten minutes to go - I like walking up on stage w/my bass instead of being all stumblehands trying to get it on w/the gig underway. we follow up the steps behind and he's asks if we're ready... "ok then, let's do it!" and I run across to plug in - I know at first people kind of think I'm a roadie but when I take my glasses off and face them, by that time scotty and ron are at the ready so things kind become apparent, "yeah, that is the idiot they have on bass now," they're probably thinking... I don't know, was ron's guitar on? maybe halfway through the opening chord of "loose" or was that another gig? my head gets weird like that but I do know I'm waiting for scotty's second fill cuz that's where I get to feel what it's like to hit a note through these amps, two rented ampeg svt-IV pros each w/a 8x10, like most of the gigs this time... "look out!" from ig and scotty's got our groove on, a little slower but I'm digging it. my amps are sounding a little on the midrange though I got all the eqs flat (these amps have two sets and my bass has its onboard one). however, ron's amps sound even more that way, brittle and boxy, yech. maybe they'll get better. you really roll the dice w/rental stuff but hey, "a poor carpenter blames his tools" I tell myself all the time... time to work the room. workin' it is what ig's gotta do big time cuz the stage is strange - there's an extended part that has like two ramps going from where we are to it so there's huge holes where ig could tumble down into if he's not careful. it's like two stages, one in front of the other, w/the front shallower one w/no monitors but that's where ig is doing a lot of singing. luckily the soundfills are loud w/his voice. steve and ron are always bumming after the show about this but I'm glad they're blasting. scotty's drums are good in the monitor mix too. it's kind of cool and I also got a fan going next to my amp on me(good angle on it tonight so it's not just blowing on my knees) but I start a sweat 'pert-near as "down on the streets" gets to the first chorus - it's almost like my body wants to get there to work right. "a real-o mind!" ig sings out and "1969" is next, the tune he tells the folks that is "...about a magic number" - they're out all the way back to the chow tents and a peek from me says they're really young - we're not too high up and the moat's not that big though there's a camera on some automated boom stand and some tripod-mounted static ones on the sides, ig doesn't seem to concerned w/them like he is when people are personally operating them and all in the way. when it's ron solo time, ig comes charging up to me to do some dancing, I see his chest already bloody - probably from climbing from/into the moat. he leans into my strings some and they get muted out for a riff, I laugh in thanks for the personal iggy touch before he scoots away to dance over near ron... he's got those camouflage pants of nina's on again. no stagedive for "...dog" but he wades much into the crowd and is out there quite a while before rejoining us, "I need love!" he sings before the last verse. I don't know exactly why but for some reason I figure maybe iggy wants me to calm down some and though it's 'pert-near impossible for me to do in a song like "tv eye" I start thinking about that as we finish it... of course "dirt" it should be a little natural for some downpace - aahh, I hit a bunk note near the end of ron's solo - now I'm even more self-conscious, this shit can snowball if I don't buck up. it was really a sourass note but it was a bunk one, where I put it and how I phrased (or unphrased) it. the band stays tight though I wonder if I through ron cuz I'm thinking I'm hearing the wrong chords and ig even lays out for a bit... the three original stooges bring it together and we go out strong... just one fucking note, one moment of spacing and look what I almost caused... shit. I brace up hard for "real cool time" and put everything I got into it to get my nerve back up. I also stay right in front of my amp and try and calm down some, try and rilak cuz I'm figuring that's what ig wants... I know he wants me to play good, that's what I'm here for... oh dear, I'm unravelling a little upstairs but at least my hands are moving ok and by the time we're into the final choruses, I've recovered some "composure" (a word for me to use when referring to myself) and I notice no dancers coming up except maybe that guy who looks like george berz (j mascis + the fog drummer when I toured w/them) that was the first one to get up on stage in budapest. he's on really brief, like does a lap and then is off to stage starboard. we go into "no fun" and one cat comes up, ig even sharing the mic but he's kind of shy - not singing or dancing much so iggy brings him by ron... it's strange. he does have a ramones shirt on though. to not have exuberant dancers w/us on stage for these two tunes feels really weird and I'm not used to it... I'm trying to figure out what happened. I put those thoughts in check quick though and play "1970" as accurate as I can - fuck, am I sharp? I just tuned while ig was doing the band intros... maybe a cunthair, ok maybe a little more... baka watt. at least w/a little flat you can chuck the strings up some. I go down a bit w/the 'a' string on the fly. helperman chris was showing me this peterson strobe tuner that fakes how the old strobes worked and it seemed way more on the money than this korg - maybe I should try one of those. this coming from a minutemen guy where we thought it was bourgeois to use any kind of a tuner on stage! I'm sorry, d. boon. I know ig keys on the bass for singing though and I can't be sourass. I'm here to help, to be clay and it's not the minutemen. life is a trip. I start tripping on that while iggy and ron do "mindroom" but then catch myself, trying to get right for "fun house" which ig calls up pretty quick - or maybe it just seemed that way cuz my mind wandered. again, I'm really intent on not being sloppy, I've lost some of the abandonment that catches me up so when I'm doing this music cuz of being self-conscious, I'm thinking that at least I can play the notes right though I'm really lit by steve playing his tenor really good - wow, that's inspiring. other people making music is so important for me... I really draw on it, really need it. I am a very insecure person. even "l.a. blues" has a kind of subdued take from me tonight. I lay trane's "a love supreme" riff under ig's "I am you" outro for it and look over to see scotty start a drum rhythm on it, he's real quite but I can see him being regular w/the beats but I'm afraid to upset ig and just layout like I usually doing after three of them, while he's doing his frankenstein walk offstage. he runs back a few bars after we're into "skull ring" and I try to get some confidence by moving my shoulders like I've seen someone I really have respect for do (tonight I'm too scared to try my own way and copy a little like big baka)... iggy is so great though - even w/all this afraidness, I have to laugh w/amazement as I see this man work his work - it always gets me lit up and I think deep down I'm hoping it puts a light in my eye that can shine and blaze out the fear stares leaking out of my head and through my sightholes. it works some and I recover a little nerve for "little doll" and though the first few riffs wobble some, I find the groove scotty's laid out good and couple it up - even moving up to the front of our part of the stage, on some metal grating. to have it together is truly a blessing, I know cuz the norm for me is so contrasting. now's the time for truth, "little electric chair" is hatted in by scotty and under way - why am I playing one more note on the intro's octave? the nerves are crumbling so I rally. I know the place for the solo is gonna come quicker cuz where my heads at - it's gonna feel like it's coming quicker so I sing every word ig's singing in my head so I don't jump the fucking gun... then BAM, the moment's has come and I pull it out, not a whole groove cuz I can feel my hands shaking so but at least I'm in the chords and not clamming any sourass foist - there's some shaky ground but at least not stumble and it's obvious I am not the most confident (ig gives a hoot on the mic though to help me) at this but I do get it out of the tube and then back into flow - I look over stage port right at the end and see helperman chris - he's the only one I played the solo for ahead of time so he knew what was supposed to be coming and I know I'm not the most brave man and I know I'm afraid and I'm shaking and I'm nervous but he gives me a thumbs up and I am so so grateful to him. ig hollers for the double dog and we redux "I wanna be your dog" - this "dead rock star" on the set list is never gonna happen like this... ron says it's a crummy closer anyway. we run off stage and iggy tells just one more, "not right" so we go back on and kick that one out... the gig is done. much much hollering from the slovak cats as we head back to the backstage tent. there's just a partition between ig's part and ours so I can hear him tell tourboss henry he liked the sest and realized the band might be at a lower energy level cuz of the gig schedule so I go over to his side and explain to him I thought he wanted me to calm down about a third of the way through and if he needed it, I had a lot of energy and can give him more. I was wrong though, he says he didn't have anything like that in mind and wasn't wanting me calmer - he says he likes me going off like I do. oops, I misread him, baka watt. he also says he dug the solo I came up w/too which is very kind and I thank him much. I go back to the band side of the partition and eat some tuna from one of the cans they put out for us. I try one of the non-alcoholic beers and it's pretty good. we take the short ride back to the 'tel and the folks there have opened up the restaurant for us stooge folks to chow in. I go out front and sit on the cement though, drinking a real beer w/saxie steve as two locals talk w/us a bit, steve engaging them on how things are now, how they were in the east bloc days and then when the "velvet divorce" came down (when the czech and slovak parts split). I mostly listen cuz the adrenaline has worn off and the tuckeredness is coming on... I have to say bye and thank you (many many grateful thanks to good bud gabriel) shortly after and get up to my deck and drape it w/myself for the oncoming konk which is swift and total.
saturday, august 19, 2006 - biddinghuizen, netherlands
friday I popped at six bells and after a tiny tub soak, run down and through the main street of piestany again to get some snaps w/the digicamera cuz for some reason I didn't have my camera yesterday when I was exploring things... the sun's up bright yellow and man, I sure wish I could pedal down these little roads or paddle here in the river vah. I love the statue of a guy snapping his crutch in two at the bridge's entrance - they've turned parts of it (yes, the bridge) into a health spa thing even. I miss the waters outside my pedro home, miss my morning routines there - this is a little like them, kind of. I go back to the 'tel and have breakfast chow, the cook makes me up three fried eggs, all cooked together in one piece sunnyside up w/pieces of bacon cooked right in. we're shoving off for the drive to vienna at nine and half bells this morning. so I get a little chimping in before we load up in the boat - this time I ride next to the driver, shotgun which is where usually where scotty sits but there's two vans today. more sunflower farms along w/corn and wheat ones as we travel the pretty slovak country and roll through their big town, brataslava and once again over the danube and then into austria. we're going to the flughaven (airport) in vienna for a plane ride to get us to holland. it's a couple hour flight over the alps and into schiphol airport in amsterdam - hey, there's some big ol' sunflowers out front but here I can check them out close and do - iggy and tourboss henry passing me by, henry saying "don't get yourself seperated, watt." well, I'm guess I'm kind of like a bee and just attracted to flowers, sorry. a little bit of a drive ahead but I got the ipod pumping creedence into me and we make it the amstel intercontinental hotel around five and half bells - whoa, what a fancy pad and kind of not around any chowpads though the liedesplein is hoofable, that what I sense and go for it - what the fuck? from my window of this fancy pad I can see what I'm guessing are the tops of the rjiksmusem and so I head that way, passing the heineken factory on the way - whoa 550 years of batches of beer being brewed here! I make my way along a canal towards the rjiksmusem and see the back of the paradiso - this is an old church that got turned into a venue, in fact it's the first place I ever played in holland - back when the minutemen opened for black flag in 1983. it was painted all black then and was that way for years 'til recently it was sandblasted to its original brick color. the liedesplein is where "the bulldog" is (near the american hotel), it's the first of amsterdam's coffee shops (where you can get mota) and opened in the early 70s. it was a former police station - politiebureau no. 14! right around it is a bunch of narrow streets that have tons of chowpads and I find a thai one called leeuw thai and have green curry chicken and rice which makes for a good shovel, excellent tastes. I wish my pedro town had either a curry or thai pad (or both!). I hoof back in the most righteous evening weather for here - typical for where I live but not so for these parts and enjoy it big time, checking out every trippy bike (and there's tons of them here) and canal boat that comes into view. I find ron, dara and scotty on the 'tel patio next to the river and watch the old bridge open to let a fuel barge through. we spiel much and as night comes on, throw chow to a swan and some ducks. I spend the rest of the time before heading off to konkville in scotty's cabin, on his deck and listening to his wisdom before I trade it for my own and sueno.
gig day - last gig day for this trip - I pop at seven but don't bail early after hosing off like usual cuz I gotta wait for a call from my dear friend carlos who has also booked my europe gigs for the last nineteen years. I need to hear from him on how we're gonna to arrange going to the van gogh museum today. I told him about this "japanese zomer" exhibition running there in an email a few weeks ago and he said he'd come up from rotterdam (where he lives) and go w/me there. it's always great for me to see him, means very much to me. I'm so glad fate has put me here to be w/him, fate has put w/me amazing people in my life, people who change me and help (lots of times unwittingly) by inspiring and putting an effect on me that I have trouble find words to express just how/why. people enter my life and I don't totally weird them out and some of their good qualities put a light in/on me. then sometimes that lasts a long time, years and years there's a bond and I'm buoyed by them constantly. other times they have to be gone and fade but still I think of them much, their impressions put in my are strong and I love it cuz remembered things can sometimes have more than one way to teach cuz you reflect at different times and w/that, different perspectives. I am very grateful for people like this in my life journey, I hope they can know this but it's probably hard to w/the crude, rough and clumsy communicating ways I have, especially the voice ones. carlos has always shown me much tolerance and love. so anyway, I don't wanna be gone when he calls so I do something pretty rare for me - I get coff put up to my room in a pitcher on a cart, silver ones. there's no chow or coff pads anywhere near this 'tel and I don't wanna be away even a sec cuz I know w/my luck I'd blow it. the coff costs six and half euros (eight u.s. dollars) - I get three cups out of it and chimp diary 'til carlos calls at nine and half bells. he tells me to me him out in front of the van gogh museum at 1: 30 pm and I say ok and can't wait to see him. they got a deep tub here that's pretty long too so that makes for some good soak and I even shave - trippy shaving the whole thing again w/out dodging a mustache. that's ok though the nose hair don't get hid as good! after are that kind of stuff, put on my outfit - damn, I should've washed this blue wrangler shirt last night (or the night before!) in the sink but I spaced. well, fuck - I'll play w/these same pants... when you're touring, after a while you can't smell them odors as well and so levis that were totally sweated out and then dried don't seem too bad to oneself, I mean just a couple of days - they do feel lame a little more than that though that can also depend on how long the tour is. will the stooges ever do a tour close to what I usually do? well this one's four gigs in seven which has got to be the most rigorous one yet. myabe when the album comes out next year, huh? I hoof the road southeast the takes me past the heineken brewery again towards the museumseplein but I'm a little early so I find that chow pad in front of the paradiso called "de prins" and have some "frits mit mayo" which is french fries w/a little chamber of slightly yellowish mayonnaise for them to get dipped into and chowed. I walk around to the rijksmuseum (it's right in front of where I have to go) and to get there I walk through this court w/a giant sized chess game going on, the piece like a foot and half high. I want so bad to kibbutz in a way! I used to play chess a lot in high school, it was a neat place to hang out at lunch cuz there was all kinds of crazy spiels there, not just quiet serious chess though the games did get intense. what I liked about it was there was no chance - no dice or shuffled cards, trippy game. the last time I was at the van gogh museum, they didn't have this newer round building hooked on to it. it's got a quote from vincent van gogh translated in many languages painted on it, saying "go to a museum every chance you get." I go out front and a security guy is playing w/his guard dog. there's a lot of folks to get in but not too bad. in a matter of minutes, I see carlos coming up the sidewalk, alright! big hugs and then in line. we first see vincent's self-portrait, a very yellow and orange one and not just his face. his painting has so much life into it, when you the see paint strokes up close in a real life - not from a photo it's even more apparent that the paint is fused w/his spirit, it's righteous. we realize the "japanese zomer" is in the newer round building and take the connector walkway there. it's mainly on the meji period of japan when there was this show in paris and vincent actually did two paintings they have here that are kind of copies but also w/his own versions of japanese characters painted as if to frame it - one of plum trees and one of a bridge w/folks on it. they are close but not total copies and of course vincent's own take is much on them, they're beautiful. so is the other works form japan from this period - incredible enameled vases, dishes and such - wow! same intensely carved and crafted wood and metalwork... totaly a mindblow. there's paintings too - also a series of postcard like drawings a dutch dude who travled the five hundred klicks from edo (tokyo) to kyoto. then one floor has a comparison of a woman in the late nineteenth century from upper class paris w/the same from tokyo then. in the gift shop they have some clayware from japan and I get two tea ones (they're big, like bowls) to replace the one yuka sent me from japan that got broke... I've been using a coffee mug when I have it (macha, green tea) on suday mornings when I chow w/my ma and sisters. on the plane from vienna yesterday, there was a "herald tribune" (the europe newspaper put out by the new york times) "international life" section that had listed under amsterdam an exhibit of anarchistic art called "breaking the rules" at the stedelijk museum cs (which is actually right next to the van gogh museum but cuz of renovations there, it's moved to this postal distribution center near the central train station. me and carlos take a tram there which is neat cuz even w/all the bunches of times I've been to amsterdam, I've never rode a tram or have been to the central train station - it's done up just like the rijksmuseum (itself undergoing renovations but still open), same intense ornamentation. lots of the art at the exhibit is from the 60s and I dig it much, especially this stuff by a guy named ben (just ben) from napoli. carlos is familiar w/a lot of the artists shown here and explains much to me. we take the subway back to the 'tel - my first time on that and it's fast and lets us out just a block away - we're like forty minutes away from shove-off time for the gig, carlos is gonna ride w/us (so is dara).
the gig is near a little town called biddinghuizen which is built on what the dutch call "polder" - reclaimed land from the sea, where the water's been pumped out and landfill added. it's about an hour from amsterdam and this event, "the lowlands festival" is actually on a campground called "wallaby world" w/big plastic wallabies pointing the way to the entrance. rain has started to come down some - the weather's returned to how it was when we landed here from the u.s. a week ago. luckily though, there's huge tents over both the stage and where the audience folks are - a company called de boers makes them and helped new orleans out last year right after hurricane katrina. we're on at 8:45 pm but before us is the recounteurs, a band I saw in ann arbor when I was practicing the upcoming album songs w/the stooges last week. I'm digging this gig even more, though they were good last time. the main guy is jack white from the white stripes but he's really generous w/sharing the whole thing w/the band, especially brendan benson on guitar and singing who's kicks it up pretty tough, I think he smokes. I think he fires jack up too cuz jack's working it up real sweaty, same w/bass and drum, jack (another one) and patrick from the greenhornes. there's a cat named dean on keys too - all of them are jamming on it and I watch their whole gig and get myself pretty riled up to play... it's also the first dutch stooges gig ever and I get to do it in front of my dear old friend carlos which is pretty intense. man, am I ready to go! I go back to warm up and get into tonight's gig t-shirt, one from pedro that says "god almighty do me a favor" in black on white fabric - something from a cat named bradley who moved to our town from alabama. I go over my bass solo for "little electric chair" like a hundred times - I think breaking the water w/it thursday in piestany will make it somewhat easier tonight but still, I don't wanna choke. I wanna do good always for the stooges but for brendan too - he says he's gonna watch from my side. there's a lot of things exciting about this gig on top of the high voltage blast I get from playing these tunes and especially w/the guys who made them - if I stopped and wavered enough to really think about it, I know I'd get overwhelmed big time and have a cardiac, 'pert-near. ten million paces later, it's finally time for downbeat... only a short walk to the stage and we follow ig out to the jump-off mark. "ok, let's go!" he hollers and I run across the stage and plug in my bass - I look over starboard and see brendan and those guys and for some god damn hambone reason, crank up my amps. as usual, we open w/"loose" and what a nightmare of a horrible bogart blast belches out of my speakers when I come in, fucking crimony! what the hell is wrong w/me? the stage is flooded w/terribleness - not in a happening way at all and I race to get the volume some valium - I see helperman jos rushing like crazy to keep the gig boat righted... man, I wish I could let him know it's all my fault and none of his. shit, did I lame things up w/this doof move, hopefully we can recover and I'm lucky this band is tight on the recover mode. the dutch folks are in a frenzy w/iggy working them good - now that I can hear the drums (I was way drowning them out), I find the groove and get the fuck on board... letting the stooge music fill me and fire all my cylinders... I'm right there w/scotty as he clicks in "down on the street" but when amp-humping for ig time comes, I find myself right in his path as he charges for them (ampeg II duo - no master volume on these guys) and see him try to move port, then starboard but I'm out of sync and can't quite muster the opposite move and we nearly miss a collision.
what a dumb fuck, watt" runs through my mind in boldface letters. I regain some nerve for "1969" and carry it over into "I wanna be your dog" but man, do I wish I could turn back some clock hands and have another shot at getting the gig right but then figure what a fucking stupid thing to be thinking when the moment is NOW and the gig is ON. let me shake some sense into myself - I do just that for "tv eye" and don't quit w/the rapture dance 'til it's done, getting a head-full of ron solo to boot. yeah, there's some brain floss. a downshift for "dirt" and ig's still in the crowd when ron cuts his lead guitar shorter than usual... he's looking at me to give him for two for nothing and I figure that's what we gotta do even if ig's w/out a mic but he gets back up on stage when he can since we're in the moment, yeah, we do a variation on what usually happens - it's good not to be a fucking player piano-like machine, I sure dig this band. "get up on stage w/us" action w/"real cool time" and "no fun" - dutch dancers are kicking it up much and letting their freak flags fly fervently, alright! 'pert-near a medley, we stitch ig giving the band intros, "1970," "mindroom," "fun house," "l.a. blues" and "skull ring" into one huge landscape, yielding hills, valleys, prairies, forests, flat-out straightaways and oceans/rivers of wetness. there's one gaff I clam that's clear to me - in "fun house" I went over to visit ron and steve after ig hollered "blow, steve!" (man, how I love that part) and I think I brought the bass guitar cord out into ig territory, causing him to trip some on it. fucking baka watt - I felt the yank on the cord as ig's foot hit it. actually, I think I already visited and was coming back towards my amps but whatever, I fucked up and got in the way. it kind of stood there like a singular thought in my mind but I knew to play good, I had to somehow let it go and stay in the moment w/the band. shit, I always seem to blow it when I try too hard - actually I was trying to get in some energy iggy said we were lacking in the slovak show - it was there I thought he really wanted me to calm down but was explained to different at that gig's end. I think I'm showboatin' a little for brendan too, if you can believe it - sometimes I do that to keep from being so self-conscious but usually the "you're a fucking bozo" realizations do their best to overwhelm me... man, there are many times I can't believe what I'm doing, how I got into any of this - well, of course I know how - it was d. boon! back to the gig though: "skull ring" finishes and then ig does that trippy chant thing he's developed to bring in "little doll" and scotty flams me aboard. the tune's sounding really good, I think but again, I think hambone mode overtakes me and I get to the lip of the stage for ron's guitar solo and onward - I fucking close me eyes even... usually I got a hundred percent of my attention on ig or if there's any less of it, it goes to scotty and then to ron but here I got my fucking eyes closed and am laying out the riff when I feel this charge come up like that on me - seems ig has rammed me up high, like on the left shoulder and I go over. now he's run into, jumped on and even tackled me but I have never gone down. that's mainly cuz I'm paying much attention and ready myself to absorb the blow but this was kind of a blindside - I say "kind of" cuz actually any side would've been a blind one cuz I was the fucking baka idiot w/the eyes closed - what's that about?! to my credit, I will say I didn't freak out and kept playing, even on the deck there and flat on my back. I play the rest of the tune that way and when I get back up after we finish, I look down to see a huge sweat puddle I left, alright. you gotta understand I'm not upset even a tiny bit, in fact I'm pretty lit up by it and kind of grateful too that my knees did get hurt (him hitting me high helped w/that) cuz I have the worst knees: born w/them lame and had to have surgeries on them in my early twenties. I know iggy too likes working a stage for real and so dig being kind of part of that, kind of more visual than audio for that brief instant. we do "little electric chair" and I'm a little more together on the bass solo but I still got some way to go on putting it into action, even if I got the plan for it laid out ok. we do the "double dog" reprise and then we're off, coming back for a final blast of "not right" to cap the gig off and I run back to the dressing rooms but have to run back to do "dead rock star" when eric hollers for me, whoops. the dutch folks are going off, much much hollering from them. danke vel. well, that was a trip - soon me and ig are in the racounteurs' dressing room and he asks if I'm ok and I say yeah, no prob. brendan tells me he likes my "style" which I have to laugh at cuz I'm still working on getting it together. he's very kind. the worst thing was me being too loud at the set's beginning and I know jack white knows that. he's nice to me though as is patrick and bassie jack. in fact, I just came by to apologize for being that loud at the beginning and they told me to sit down and spiel. I do that for a bit and then I see carlos and it's big hugs cuz he's getting a ride back to rotterdam - I can't wait to see him again. when I introduced him to iggy, ig said he looked like me if only I'd have take some growth vitamins or something (carlos is way tall)! bye, carlos - I'll miss you.
it's a hour or more back in the rain but I'm happy cuz I dug the gig. however, when we get to the 'tel I get informed by the others that I've caused problems. I buck up at first but realize everyone's got something to teach me. I'm sorry. I feel kind of sandbagged but then I get oblivious at times to consequences of my behavior. I swear I don't intend to make lameness. life is definitely a school I'll always be getting learned in but that's ok, when I step back and think about it, it really is ok - just a little hard to bear sometimes but that's that fucking ego shit I'm working at keeping a boot (or converse sneaker) on. I don't konk so much this night, rather just think and think. everyone's leaving for the ariport early except me and rik heart so I go meet them and give mea culpas. I ride w/rik heart to the airport and do one for him too and get more time doing it which is good, especially considering. even at the airport I see those racounteurs cats coincidently for a moment as they're walking to where they need to be and apologize again to them for being too loud. lots of sorries for watt and I know actions speak louder than words but I gotta start w/some words... and thoughts (even more) - the whole flight back (a 747 from amsterdam to lax - the u.s. customs man asking me if I'd take full responsibility for anything on me or in my baggage, typical if your entrance card says "holland" or "netherlands" on it), I have nothing but lame thoughts about myself, oh boy. my sister picks me up and brings me to my boat at paul and helen's and still these kind of thoughts swarm me. I write emails to the stooge crew men and even call ig and leave a message saying I'm sorry. iggy calls me back a couple hours later and is laughing - he says it was tripping on that cord in "fun house" that got him riled. well, I'll just get fitted w/colar and chain, I won't go further than a couple feet from my amp... I won't touch the settings too - whatever helperman chris puts them at, I'll go w/that though ig said he noticed nothing about that but then he's had lots of years getting the ears blasted. he did notice a feedback at the beginning and I know I had something to do w/that 'til I got things backed off. overall though, ig's very supportive to me and his voice on the phone gives me the first good feelings I've had since the end of that gig when I thought I did pretty ok but then found out different. I really owe him, I really do love this man. I'm glad to have another chance.
thursday, august 31, 2006 - vitorio-gastiez, the basque country (in spain)
tuesday at 3:30 in the morning I popped to get ready for my fifth trip of this year's spring and summer for gigs w/the stooges in europe. I'm to meet my sister melinda at paul and helen roessler's pad about eight miles from my pedro town in walteria to drop the boat off for these six days I'm gone cuz otherwise it'd get towed for being parked on the curb near my apartment that long... that is, my soon-to-be-former-apartment cuz I'm moving two blocks east as soon as I can find the fucking time to do that - man, have things been crammed up for me that way! not to sound like an ingrate though - I'm eager to do these two upcoming stooges and atone for any lameness I put on any part of the team... actions are louder the words and telling those guys w/my voice and then following it up w/email ain't enough in my mind - I gotta prove it w/deeds. first off, I'm gonna try hard and let people finish their sentences. then I'm gonna (have to) try even harder watch the tone of my voice, keep that navy housing grooming (not to use that as a crutch though) somehow in check. then w/the stage stuff, ig called me after I left a mea culpa message on his machine the day after coming home last time and he was really nice to me w/a return call back a couple hours later but it's more of the choir I gotta sing for, I told him I just wanna do right. now if all this doesn't sound too rock and roll, I don't give a fuck - it's my god damn tour diary and I owe actually anyone regarding my chimpings here a whole shitload of nothing so whatever, this baka idiot wattworld and welcome to it... or flee cuz it's obvious raving anyway and I am dearly sorry for letting anyone down but fuck, how many installments does it take to make it any clearer? so it'll be a gig at a time and all my kook-drama wrapped about it. back to the tuesday before the basque gig: melinda takes me to the los angeles international airport (lax) and over to delta to drop me, my bass, my 'puter backwacksack and my small sack w/clothes (two levis, two t-shirts, two plaid button-snap ones - wait, I'm wearing one of them). I'm checking in my clothes sack cuz it's got the primping gear and toothpaste, shaving cream and deoderant have been banned from carry-on baggage for a couple weeks now. I also got my blue gibson eb bass w/me - I think it might've been an eb-0 from maybe 1968 but it was changed over before I got it. most radical was some idiot tried to make it a six-string bass! now this little babies are made of mahogany and pretty thin so the place where the neck joins the body had to be fortified w/two steel pins on each side to keep things kosher. you can see where the extra holes were drilled into the peghead to make room for six tuners and then were subsiquently filled when sanity somehow prevailed and the bullshit was abandoned. the body was painted this metal kind of blue w/a light gray undercoat but not the neck though the back of the headstock was. the headstock was never broken - very rare for these machines (my red gibson eb-3 has been broken there four times). the tuners were switched from the stock klusons to gotohs and make her too wide for the stock case but it fits in this purple flight case ok (that case was given to me by j mascis, hence the color which his favorite - by the way, I just heard lots of his guitars were stolen in brooklyn the other night while he was on tour w/dinosaur, damn). oh I changed the electronics on this blue bass to make it more like the red one, adding a bartolini musicman type pickup where a fender p-bass would have it's pickup - I couldn't find another lane poor one, like in the red one but I do have a zbs 440 pickup in the bridge like that one. I left the stock eb "sidewinder" pickup up by the neck - trippy, it has a bakelite cover instead of a chrome one... only real early 60s and before basses had those. I put the same on-board preamp in, an aguilar obp-3 though the controls are laid out different, w/the bass and treble on the same shaft. oh, there's no pickguard so it looks kind of naked so I put a picture of my pedaling/paddling partner eva on it and also a rilakkuma sticker nearby. speaking of which, at the airport a killed in a front-end collison when a drunk driver came up the wrongway on a freeway onramp. they both had just celebrated their twentyone year old birthdays a couple months ago. I really like gabby, she was a righteous spirit and always lit up a room w/it. she was great on drums (I saw here a couple of times w/the alphabettes) and was doing guitar w/eva on bass (her boyfriend chris on drums) and they were gonna do their first gig. I met gabby at the thirteenth street pad in pedro where her and her roommates would let out-of-town and local bands do gigs there. my first paddle w/eva had her and gabby in a tandem kayak while I was in my "zaby" one. this is horrible, and I think of losing d. boon... how eva must feel. fuck, I wish I could make more sense out of this life/world. it's a steamroller on my insides and I sit in my boeing 767 jetplane row 42 seat and ponder much. it's five hours to jfk airport in nyc and the only emotional relief I get is konk but even that's filled w/a strange where d. boon is telling me things but I can't get it together, can't "sort it out" and hear only word at a time which gets spaced by me immediately after hearing it and so stringing together is impossible - even trying to key on a word for a clue is too cuz I can't remember shit except for the shape of his mouth when he's speaking them and that's got me tripping just on those movement cuz it's like I've never witnessed anyone's mouth speaking before w/my eyes, it's as though I've only heard and never seen - it's god damned lunacy, I know but that's what a head on these shoulders of mine can conjure for whatever fucked-up reason. I get to jfk and lo & behold, the gate I get out at and the gate I gotta next leave from is right next to each - no hell hoof so alright! there's some lo mein to be chowed right near for only five bucks (econo for an airport burnward) so I do that and soon see saxie steve mackay, who's come in from sfo - roadboss eric joins us not too much later from his manhattan pad... all three of us on the same delta flight to milano though sitting in different parts of the 767. it's eight hours flying and most of that I do konked w/ipod filling the ears. why milano when it's way west of basque country? that's the way it was booked and so we got some hours 'til the backtrack flight west on alitalia after landing in the milan malpensa airport (it's now wednesday) - I get a gamberreti piovra salad which is full of octopus, me and steve spiel while I shovel it. ron asheton, lead guitar and helperman chris join us (them coming in from detroit) and we take a little emg-145 twin-jet fifty-seater two hours west to bilbao and I get some happening shots of the alps on the way - this is the time when window seat trumps aisle for watt. pretty view of the basque land on the way (so more snaps w/the digicam!) to landing at the bilbao airport around five pm and yes, my bass made it! well, I had to re-check in milano so I knew it had made it that far and w/the long layovers, I was made more hopeful than usual. I will take the long layovers in order to help the bass arrive, no problem. minivan drive to the same hotel as last year, lopez de haro (in fact I'm pretty sure I'm in the same chamber!) and the total time from first opening my eyes in pedro (morning pop) is about twentyseven hours, whew. ron invites me and steve for a chow there at the 'tel restaurant and I shovel the same as him, squid cooked in its own black ink sauce - really good... thank you, ron. I think of scotty - he's been in england since we last played w/his family so he had only a little flight, he joins us after a call to his chamber. after some spiel, ig pops in us - he got out of miami despite threats from the storm ernesto. well great, the band's all here! righteous (righteous too to chow both octopus and squid, each in two different lands in the same day).
gig day and we won't play 'til 11:35 pm so I'm up for hoofing to the guggenheim museum and actually going inside it, something I've yet to do. I've seen the outside a bunch though, the first time was when it hadn't open yet - the "contemplating the engine room" opera eruo tour w/joe baiza and bob lee in 1998. it's not too far from the 'tel but I go the other direction first, towards the plaza circular and train station so I can follow back along the ria de bilbao and see what's to be seen. bilbao's got lots of building go on - I've been told franco made this a beat-up industrial burg in the old days but it's been made really pretty by it's people now. euskadi (there word for basque) names are w/spanish ones for the streets and lots of stuff. the river is pretty green and yucky looking but damn if there ain't tons of fish squirming all on each other, huge ones. the guggenheim is a frank gehry designed building and is singularly amazing. no straight angles and all curved/wrapped in sheets of stainless steel skin - I pressed on one panel to feel how thin it is. the sun lights it up most brilliant (total so cal sun skies and mildness to welcome me). the huge jeff koons "puppy" statue, covered entirely w/flowers has birds live among them, whoa. inside, there's a huge exhibition on art from russia, 15/16th century icon religion stuff to socialist realism to modern conceptual... any of it w/stalin crap really creeped me out, like a huge painting big time in the style of what david did for napoleon (the title "escapes" me) or "mir" which had video running of electroshock therapy in an iron frame of a sphere inside room adorned w/metal tiles w/1930s russia people/factory pictures, war flags on the ceiling that the artist supplemented w/his own drawings and slogans like "fuck this shit" (later I spoke w/tourboss henry and he said made the same visit here today and this same work freaked him out too). a funny one was another installation called "the man who went into space" and had a hole in the ceiling of a room filled w/propaganda posters w/a contraption w/ropes and springs w/it's seat empty - guess the cat made it out. I spent hours in there, the museum is a work in itself, just walking around. across the street was a subway sandwiches pad, part of the same chain we got in the u.s. I go into these in other lands every so often to see what's up... yep, a tuna footlong here is like one back home and if you convert the euros to dollars, about the same that way too. I go back to the 'tel and chimp diary.
9:30 is the bail-time for the gig. iggy's longtime euro bookerman john giddens is riding w/us - he sees us play at least once a year. he's very easy to talk to. it's an hour away in vitoria-gastiez, a town inland (bilbao is a port on the coast that travels up a valley the river cuts through) and it'll be the second time we've done this "azkena festival" - first was 'pert-near three years ago and was acutally the first stooges europe gig on the continent ever (there was a london gig in 1973). what a loop - that was the fifth show since the reunion at coachella and now this will be the 67th! we get to the backstage area (I heard creedence and roky erickson the whole ride over on the ipod) and who's there to meet me? dezo, in full misfits facepaint - he's playing w/jerry only now and on drums... it's robo! oh man, I haven't seen robo in like fifteen years! wow. big BIG hugs for both of them from me. I go and meet jerry too and he's very nice to me. iggy called me earlier in the day to talk about things, saying he wanted me to do rhythm guitar like things to ramp things in and we talked about the take down at the last show in holland - much laughter on that, especially from him. I told him I might've been showboating it a bit cuz brendan benson was over there watching me and he said again it was him tripping over my cord in "fun house" which probably had him have "blood in his eye" (his words) for me but it's just working a stage - he said w/the trolls that whitey would collide w/him all the time but one time he ducked and ig went flying and got hurt. I told him not to worry cuz I wouldn't duck and take the blow, no prob but when I confessed about the hambone shit he said "rockstars can be distracting, huh?" and not that brendan is anything like a rockstar (or for that matter, either dezo or robo), I don't want him thinking I might get unfocused so after a bit a spiel, I go join the asheton's and steve... man, it was sure a great thing to see dezo and robo again... dear old friends from the black flag/minutemen days. my first euro tour in fact was w/dezo as my bunkmate. those cats are the best. I put on a shirt eva gave me - it's from an oakland band called the fleshies that both her and gabby like - I'm playing tonight's gig for gabby, all my thoughts for her. eric brings me the blue gibson bass and I warm on it, hmm... the straps a little shorter than the one on the red one and so it sits a little higher - not too much but a little. I'll have to focus to keep from clamming instead of going by mostly muscle memory. we do our pacing... the band on ahead of us is one from arizona in the 80s called green on red. the misfits will play after us. it's laid out like it was the last time we played here, a stage on each end of an outdoor field. the time finally comes and we move out to the stage - I'm so glad when it's close enough not to have us ride in a vehicle. we get up on the stage and ig asks if we're ready - yep - he hollers "then let's do it!" and I run across and plug in... oops, this bass has the jack on the bottom edge rather than the front side but I get it together. I'm not touching the amps - hopefully helperman chris has it the way knobman rik hart and everyone else wants it. I got two ampeg svt-II amps, the ones w/no master volume but at least they're all tube. each amp has an 8x10 cab, one stacked on top of the other, sideways. eric told me the joke during the day was "let's get watt a two foot cord" - ok, I get it... I'm gonna be planted here in front of this amp. scotty hats out "loose" and we're underway. yeah, it feels a little different w/this bass but not too much so. iggy's got those camouflage pants of nina's on again and he's bouncing/storming all over, singing really good too. ron cuts a really good lead when his time comes too. ig hollers "play 'down on the street'" and that's what we do. I get on my knees in front of the drums instead of my amps but man, is it tough getting back up cuz my knees sure are stiff, damn. "1969" next and all is roaring along good 'til the coda where it sounds like ig got the words on the other side of the riff. me and ron both catch it though and we all land on our feet together, right on the bottle. it pays to pay attention, spacing out or being distracted does not! not if you're working a stooge set, that is. "I wanna do an animal song," ig yells and we tear into "I wann be your dog" - he sings the second verse in the moat, up on the barricades but never really does go into the crowd though the basque peeps are plenty excited and way into it. we go into "tv eye" and put the pickup blend to a little more back (or bridge) pickup cuz it could be a little more defined, a cunthair's worth. though I'm corralled right in front of my amps, I still shake myself sillier than a humming bird's heart... I think of gabby and her being so young to be killed, I wish I could shake enough to bring her back - I try to. jos tells me when we're done he had to plug the bottom cabinet in cuz the boom pushed the jack right out - I guess I didn't notice w/the gabby stuff weighing on me then - wait a minute, I think ron's guitar cut out for a bit too... "dirt" is appropriate to how I feel next... it's a little different for how I put my thumb on the plucking hand for this blue bass, just different a bit and not a nightmare - I can do it. ig comes up close on me for ron's solo, like he's gonna ram me but pulls off his charge just a the last second, though I'm ready if he goes through w/it, I'll take like an airbag in a carcrash, no prob. for me, it's quite an honor to get runover by iggy, no prob. I do gotta watch the lame knees of mine but that's it. "real cool time" kicks right in and this coal burner rider/cross tie walker thumps his index and middle fingers in unison on those strings like there was ano tomorrow. ig calls for dancers and up come basque dancers - a couple at first and soon the stage is full, many dancing right in my face and hollering enthusiastically, especially when we go into "no fun" and things get way full throttle. I air-sing the words along w/them - I see a cat get his cellphone out to take pictures! too much. we finish up and much hugs and french-style (not frenching) kiss on each cheek gets exchanged w/some cats, eskaudi (thank you in basque). ig says "it's time to introduce the fucking band" and again I'm just "on bass guitar is mike watt" (ok w/me, many bows to ig) but ron gets to once again be the "heavy weight champion of the world" and he yells "I wanna play '1970'" and so we do, full bore. he had asked for some water and I gave him a bottle that was on the drum riser but wasn't opened so he just chucks and looks over w/a laugh - jos coming up to give him a bottle that's ready (sorry, ig). this tune railroads, whoa! steve makes his entrance w/his sax in the coda and the gets his intro as ron skews us into "mindroom" w/iggy introspecting some w/the lyrics he has for it. I check tuning for the upcoming "fun house" and this little blue bass is holding it pretty good and then I let it go to work when he cues me... seems like ron's guitar dropped out in the first verse but maybe I'm crazy? hmm... well, I'm probably crazy but I think the guitar was going cuz his fingers were moving but maybe he had things muted some. anyway, scotty is tumbling the roll fills crazy wild and I'm digging that way much. we pummel into "l.a. blues" and I'm not as secure to go all the way off like I usually do and so hold back some - not so much though (I'm not used to charging hard up on the neck w/this bass yet) and I do get a big feedback going before four highhats bring in "skull ring" and ig returns on stage and in a full-on run. ig hoots some gurgle-chant and scotty flams me into "little doll" and the sound shimmies "back into africa," like ig says 'til we stomp close for his last line, "smokin' on a cigarette and then it's right into "little electric chair" w/only one of it's original verses but that doesn't make the tune shortage - no, everyone gets a solo 'pert-near (scotty's the only one left w/out) and it's been a week so will I have it together? it's a little rough for me but I do get it out w/out derailing too much - there's a little stumblebum though. the double dog and we're out - I try hard to read what's written around this irish flag some cats are holding in the front road but can't make it out which is a trip cuz usually I'm always focused on either the band or ig and sure enough, I 'pert-near slip (as in a clam on the bass, not a fall) but I catch my idiot self in time and get right - can't get sidetracked. I do see the cats holding that flag hollering much though and that's good enough, really. we run back, out of the sight lines and I park on the deck like I usually do at the foot of the chair henry has for ig to sit in and he whips up some emotion by himself, he joins us and sits, saying "only one more - 'not right'" and I run right back to get the bass on. I play this tune on one string, the thick 'e' one and I thump every note for gabby, pluckin' w/everything I have. the deck below me has much puddle of wet sweat pours - yeah, the fan is to much to the side of the amp to give me air when I'm this close but it's ok, really. I run my fastest ever when we get done, coming to the front of the drum riser only to cue the ending, whoa. I get to the dressing room and hear "get back here, watt!" and I'm running my fastest back, hearing dezo, robo and jerry only hollering, "go mike, go!" we do "dead rock star" after I dash back on stage and then ig whips the folks up w/some dancing himself as we head back to the dressing room this time for real. robo grabs me on the way and hoists me into the air w/a huge hug, big ones from dezo too. robo hasn't seen me play in a long time and thought it was solid, he dug it. it's so good to see a dear bud from the old days. he tells me he's got a son now, twenty years old - whoa. dezo just got married too and they both live in new jersey. much good life for them from me, big loves.
john giddens comes in and says he liked what we did, said I got wet w/sweat. alright! iggy comes in and debriefs us, he enjoyed the show and said he noticed the blue bass and liked my playing. scotty said he had great monitors. I thought he was slamming and iggy was inspirational for me w/his singing and stage working. both henry and rik say they thought my playing was solid as a resuult of being in one place more and that that it "looked good" (rik's words). I like ig telling us he thought the band played well. man, I do miss my gig boss for these parts, unai and my spanish artist buddy, gomezbueno (he lives in so cal but is back here for a bit) cuz I had them both on the list to come and see me. I am parched from the big gig sweat and drink a couple beers pretty fast, then start to feel a little weird. this happened in belgium the week before last and I thought it might be the ibuprofen ron gave me for soreness (speaking of soreness, my knees are totally stiff and killing me - I feel like 180 years old!) w/some beers. well, no ibuprofen this time and the same weird kind of queasy going on. I think the gigs pull a lot out of me and I need just water after cuz I gotta settle down. fuck, it's 'pert-near an hour back to bilbao and I can't even listen to my ipod sounds cuz of this shit stirring up in me - that and soreness. life is funny. the first stooge gig back always puts a little more soreness cuz no other gigs I do are like them - none, not even gigs where I do stooges songs cuz these guys are singular! time to leave and on the way out scott mccaughey comes up to me and says hi. we were supposed to play together w/barrett martin and pete buck for some kind of profile thing on my musical life (insert infinite belly laughs here) but the suits got in the way and sunk it. sad for that but glad to see scott - shit like that happens all the time and I know some day I'll get a chance to play w/scott - minus the fucking suits, hopefully! we get back to the 'tel and I get in the tub, my intention was just a little rilakkuma but instead I konked...
saturday, september 2, 2006 - milano, italy
friday was an early pop to get the free trough they had going shovelled before airport bail at nine bells. actually, I popped in the fucking tub - I had konked in there and the water must've slowly ran out cuz I was in the backwood bare but somehow not freezing. light was on too, trippy. shows you how tour life has made it possible for me to konk 'pert-near anywhere anyway. damn. glad I didn't drown though. I was just so sore. I think maybe I was constantly adding hot water but that seems like it was a dream. I had weird dreams of pipes, a whole tangled mess of them w/thoughts of my getting lost in the tangle and me not being able to have a continuity w/any of them - all splintered and shit. it seems the thin pipes had the thoughts rush fast (whatever they were - I'd feel the energy of them but when I'd try to reflect on them, I'd have no damn idea what they eve were) and the wider ones seemed like they get me more wet, like a wash over the brain. it was weird. I did dig having my sore bones soak. I shovel lots of fruit w/yogurt plus tortilla - the kind not like in latin america but the spanish kind which is like a potato cake w/egg omelet and ham. back to the bilbao airport whence we came from milano and back to milano we go, even on the same plane - I know cuz alitalia names their planes and ours was the "enrico fermi" coming over and now going back, bingo. I'm even almost the same seat except it's the aisle instead of the window which I mostly dig (my fucking knees) but on shorter ones windows are ok cuz I can get snaps. oh well. cuz we're goning east it's faster than wednesday's flight by a halfhour and we get to milano's malpensa airport around one and I figure my bass will come in the bulky baggage area it came the last time but after waiting and waiting - finally realizing all my guys have bailed and can't return cuz of the customs deal, I find them outside wondering where I was - I don't think they realized there was more than one bulky baggage area (like me!). man, I try helping and still fuck up - baka watt. we're driven to the melia milano hotel, a five star fancy pad northwest of the center of town. good, I've played the milano area much but never have gotten to check out the old downtown. I'll hoof there tomorrow. after some diary chimp, I venture outside - getting the eye from the 'tel "el hombre" (security), like "what are you about in a pad like here." "lo siento" (sorry) I think back. the weather is totally like back home when pedro has it's usual mild sunniness and I love it. I check out a few blocks around and find this "cafe atlantica" to chow in, I get a huge salad w/big hunks of tuna in lettuce, tomato, green olives and gnarls of fresh mozzarella along w/penne arrabbitta (pasta w/chili sauce) for ten euros (about $12.30 u.s.) and after some look-around (seems kind of residential in these parts), I go back to the 'tel to see roadboss henry and talk about music some, him saying to me his first record ever bough was "green river" by creedence but it skipped in one place and even the new one he got after returning that, same place. said he dug though. helperman chris thinks the line in the song "green river" is "flagpole climbers and cross-tie walkers" (first he wants to know what a "cross-tie walker" is - it's a ramblin' man hoofing down a train track) when it's "black coal riders and cross-tie walkers" where a "black coal rider" is ramblin' man on a old coal-burning train. I go up and konk 'pert-near early... even w/the fancy room, I'm on the deck in clothes, shoes, socks - everything - I'm way tired and konk like a plug was just pulled from me after getting through the hatch.
gig day and I pop early to hose off and head for the second floor chow pad (in europe they call the first floor what we call the second floor - what we call the first floor, they call the ground floor) for the free shovel and it's a great trough so I bring it on: salmon, mackerel and herring stuffed into a roll that's been baked w/whole green olives in it plus yogurt over peaches, plums and pears. man, do I fill the gullet but then I want it to hold me the rest of the day and I'll be sure to hoof it off cuz my goal is to check out the middle milano on foot but first I wanna see what the metropolitana is like, the subway. we're northwest of city center - a map from the desk helps me w/the bearings cuz like most europe towns, there ain't much of a grid w/the streets here, way more like a wheel w/crazy twisted spokes making it up. the underground train is sort of like the one in napoli, the windows are down but it's louder w/the wheels screeching much. I get off at the cadorna stop which is by the sforzesco castle and explore that some, then head south onto via dante (yes, that dante) towards the duomo. it's under major restoration but it's a huge and impressive white cathedral. there must be hundreds of sculptures all on it's outsides and amazing spires reminding me a little of some big mormon ones I've seen back in the states but only a litttle cuz this has a style all its own. I take tons of snaps w/the digicamera. right near is the galleria which is a giant glass-roofed arcade w/lots of the fashion names you'd think of when thinking of milano: gucci, prada, fendi and all that and amazing tile work on the deck. there's a big statue of leonardo da vinci right outside. I decide to hoof back and on the way there's a levi store - I see jeans like mine for ninetyfive euros ($118 u.s.) - damn, too much! there's an older man playing "le international" on an accordion and I listen for many choruses, even take a little movie of him. it's the way he's playing it that I dig, I love how music can make me almost feel I make some sort of sense of this world - almost. shit, what or where would I be w/out music? I owe that tradition much! I take in all the milanese sights I can, simple things like manhole covers and door knockers - I try to do this in every town I hoof through... it helps me to realize some of the bigger truth through little things even though the huge things can hypnotize you but there's a more subtle understanding in the simple - it's beyond my command of words to express right but I know I feel it. cuz of that huge shovel in the morning, I chow nothing and get back w/about an hour to go before shove-off time. man, that hoof was mega-filled w/eyegifts.
we load into the minivan for like a hour drive through the maze of milan for the gig. it's called the idro festival and I got the t-shirt I'm wearing from skater/musician ray barbee, it's a black w/orange writing one for a pad in long beach called gogo guitars. ray was asked by fuel tv to do a segment for their "check 1, 2" show where he both skates and plays music. he chose fellow skater/musician chuck treece for drums and myself for bass and the pedro connect - he told me he always thought of pedro and the minutemen when he thought of the d.i.y. ethic so in that spirit he thought why not film the music part at the 13th street pad back in pedro, where there's lots of house party gigs for local and touring bands and then skate the channel street skatepark which was built by a grassroot movement led by skater/longshoreman pedro dude andy harris. that was pretty righteous of ray and I was very honored to share in his music w/both him and chuck, much respect to both. anyway, there's a band called the eagles of death metal on stage and I know some of the cats - they're good fun and I dig watching them. on the way to the dressing room, denis, the singer from the international noise conspiracy comes up to talk w/me - he's got a great band and we spiel some. then captain sensible comes in to say hi to scotty - the damn is on the bill here too - and it's very much a honor for me to meet him and tell him so. wow. all these cats here, wow. ron starts his pacing and soon I join in. looks like were going on a halfhour later cuz of some technical problems. eric brings me the blue bass and it looks like jos took the strap off his epiphone version of the gibson eb-3 I use and put it on this one. I told him it felt like the strap was too short last gig, I guess I'm used to the way it is on my red one back home. finally the time comes and henry leads up to the stage. "let's do it!" hollers ig and off we go, the asheton brother's bringing on "loose" w/me parked right in front of my amps, two svt-II ampegs that I don't even look at cuz I'm trusting helperman chris. iggy right away goes wild, the milanese cats go wild - the gig is on! ig called me earlier to say to do the "rhythm guitar stuff that you do" which I take to mean to set up some changes - ok, I do some but avoid any "jacoisms" or noodling. man, the strap seems a little too low - ha, I'm a fucking idiot baka. it's too quick to adjust it cuz scotty counts in "down on the street" but I get it a little bit better before "1969" though it still feels a little funky. I can still play though, it's just a little nagging thing cuz I ain't used to it. I am used to watching iggy work a stage hard though and that it is, incredible and forever inspiring this man and his spirit. there's trouble w/his band though in the next tune, scotty gets turned around in the intro of "I wanna be your dog" and there's a trainwreck so ig stops us and counts us in on the riff - good thinking and it pulls us out and over, saving the day for that one. "tv eye" next and it's tight and full throttle. I put the blend knob to a lot more bridge pickup for "dirt" for more definition. the stage sound is pretty bad and I have no iggy singing in my monitors which is really lame for me cuz I big time key on his voice, it's like his conductor's baton almost - well, so is his body which I'm watching every second except for some glances back at scotty from time to time. time for "real cool time" and that means dancing time for those w/the heart to get up on stage w/us and many milanese do just that, it's pretty wild. it continues into "no fun" w/some cats doing "air bass" in front of me which cracks me up much but I maintain focus. ok, a little gap for band intros so I get my strap more together and it's about the same length I'm used to - finally! we go into "1970" and charge hard. steve makes his entrance on the sax. we pull back some for "mindroom" and the blow it out again for "fun house" and it gets way crazy, not letting up any for "l.a. blues" and then steamrolling into "skull ring" - blast after blast. I get a little disjoint in the head and lay out the first bar of "little doll" - if I'm coming in, I wanna be on the beat and just didn't wanna risk it. bam, "little electric chair" rockets off and when it comes to my bass solo, ig comes on over and points at me saying on the mic "I like that" - damn, you never seen a happier baka in your life to look at my face at that moment. I couldn't ask for anything more in this life, I could keel over right now and would've died a very happy man. thank you thanky you, iggy-sensei, thank you. that tune done, ig tells us "you got one more chance to fuck this up" and we do "I wann be your dog" again but this time we're right on it w/out the clams. we come off the stage and ig tells us "just one more... 'not right' and that's it" and so we go out and do that and do it strong. however, I find by the middle of the song, my notes are dying really quick and look down to discover the pickup pole-screw in the neck pickup has traveled up and is up against the 'e' string! I only play this song on the 'e' string but switch over to the 'a' one to finish the tune up. now I don't use this pickup - I pulled it out of the red one but left here in this one and that's why it has three pickups instead of two like that one (the middle pickup is one I put in both to have it in the same place that a fender p-bass would have its pickup cuz I think too close to the neck brings on too much woof). we come off stage and I run for the dressing room w/eric hollering "hold on, watt!" but it actually is the last song and we're done. whew.
I'm not having any beer tonight, I just drink water. I'm sitting there w/my leg shaking much - not moving around the stage doesn't burn up near the energy I'm used to flailing and it's running through me now big time. scotty says of the sixtyeight gigs we've done now, this was the worse sound for him ever and it was a tough one. captain sensible and the damned singer dave vanian come into to give congrats - very kind of them, the captain says it was intense, wild, morphing and... "like coltrane?" I say and he says "yeah, that's it!" iggy then comes in to say he really dug the gig. he tells me he likes me "fitted w/collar and chain" cuz it puts another kind of energy out there, like I'm tearing away and wanting to get free so it's the bottled-up intensity he's into. alright, I'm way into that. there's a lot of good vibe all around and my leg is doing a monster tremor, I just can't help it. after a bit it's time to bail and our driver gets lost but he does get us close enough for me to remember the surrounding cuz of my hoofing earlier in the day and I help get us there. I talk a little w/scotty but he's gotta pack cuz of an early bail time for him.
another lost driver - this time on the way to the airport and I guess it almost came to blows w/him and eric but I had the ipod jamming creedence into my head the whole way... I'm just glad everything worked out and we made it to the malpensa airport ok and I got to sit next to eric on the flight to jfk (he lives in nyc and I was travelling on to cali). I like eric much and he talks some good sense into me. man, everyone's got something they can teach watt, believe you me. it's righteous to do customs on a flight before the one coming home cuz then my sister melinda doesn't have to wait forever for me. she gets me and then gets me over to my boat which I get on over to my pedro pad and finally deposit myself on my own deck for some good ol' stationary konk (kind of cuz I roll around while in sleepytown but at least the deck ain't moving).
friday, september 22, 2006 - buenos aires, argentina
ok, the last trip before we make a record - that's still having to sink in on me, the idea that I'm gonna be on a stooges album... it's such a mindblow for this bozo on bass. anyway, I'm still trying to keep myself together about that but what's at hand here is the first time I get to play argentina... 'pert-near as far as any europe gig but hey, it's here in the americas! that reminds me of one of my biggest dreams, to really do an "american tour" which to me means north, central and south america... and I don't mean just about flying into the big towns but doing like I do most times, in the boat (my econoline van) and driving all through these lands. one day I truly hope to make that happen. well, wednesday my sister melinda met me up at paul and helen's to drop the boat off and then take me to the airport (lax). first it was four hours to atlanta and that's where I meet sax man steve, helperman chris, scotty and ron. we're all flying on the same plane to buenos aires but I've got a ticket w/a seat that doesn't exist! it says "41B" but there's only thirtynine rows. one good thing about this trip is I didn't have to check in a bass cuz the little red gibson eb-3 broke again on that headstock crack last week. this is break number five and bascially I'm just putting glue on glue and there's no strength w/that so what I'm doing is putting a piece of mahogany from about the third fret down from the nut to half way up the headstock. so, the blue gibson eb-3 I brought last trip (to vitorio-gastiez and milano) travelled back w/jos to england to wait for the all tomorrow's parties gigs in december (so I could use the red gibson one when I open for the chili peppers w/my own new missingmen trio at that time and not have to travel w/a bass when I do the flying back and forth). cuz of this, I used a 'puter check-in kiosk so maybe the plane was switched and the 'puter hadn't been made aware when it issued me the seat. anyway, the crew find me a seat - an aisle one even (which I dig cuz of my knees) and I'm ok, right in the row behind steve mackay. it's a nine and half hour flight but I konk through most of it cuz it's the night and I wanna be on buenos aires time as much as I can (it's four hours ahead of pedro time). we get into the buenos aires airport just before eight am and I find the weather 'pert-near like back home though it's the second day of spring for them instead of the fall (cuz of the equator, their seasons are opposite of ours). the ride into town and to the 'tel reveals stuff similar to what I saw in sao paolo, shanty town pads built every which way in parts and even the other stuff kind of beat up, you can tell there's woes w/the economy here. we're at the sheraton park tower and it's not too far from the water, in fact there's a container terminal right close though it's much smaller than the one in our harbor, I hoof down after the free breakfasat shovel (yes, we got here in time) to check things out. even the government buildings are kind of beat up though there's a strong life force among the folks on the streets, you can tell they're just going through hard times w/the monies. a statue dedicated to immigrants is in a big intersection, for a while half the immigrants here were italian adn there's lots of germans that came too - the president is named nestor kirchner so though it was a colony of spain for three hundred years, there was an influx here of europeans sort of like the u.s. there's cats cooking up lunch chow for the longshoremen right outside the docks on outside qs and w/three pesos to the dollar, it looks pretty econo. I go by the big bus and train station to check that scene out. lots of people trying to sell everything on the sidewalks and in the traffic intersections. some of the streets around here are really wide, one by the 'tel is like twelve lanes. trippy, there's a old brick tower w/a big ben-like clock face that england gave argentina for a gift a while back and then a few blocks away there's a memorial for the war they fought each over for the malvinas (or faulkland) islands. I get back and meet up w/scotty, I tell him I'll find some beer instead of the ones w/the burn ward prices they got here. I find one liter bottles for three pesos each and get over a gallon and half of cerveza for just under seven u.s. dollars. scotty says argentina's known for it's steak so we go do a dinner of that on the bottom floor, something called a madallion (a four inch across round piece about three inches high) in mushroom and wine gravy w/a salad bar that's got lots of trippy type olives and sundried tomatoes among other good eats (artichoke hearts, asparagus spears - stuff you find in those little import jars back home). we spiel a bunch after about bears and raccoons 'til I feel konk coming and bail for my deck around midnight.
gig day and I pop late (for me - like eight), hose of quick and make for the chow pad. the lady says cuz of the room number I have that I can shovel up on the twentysecond floor executive trough but it's ok enough for me here and I chow eggs and fruit piled up w/yogurt. I go outside fzor a look-see but the wind is blowing hard (I had the window open a tiny bit last night which caused a venturi to get formed and sent in a howling that sounded like ghosts) and a coldness is coming on w/the skies getting really dark. the gig is a "pepsimusic 2006" festival and it's been going on already for more than a week. there's a few argentine bands on the bill w/us but it's pretty much like our own show. it's an outdoor deal and we're to go on fifteen after nine tonight. the skies beforehand get really dark and rain starts to fall. the picks up into thunder and lightning, oh boy - what happened to yesterday's weather? we bail at seven and it takes an hour to drive in much-plugged traffic. as we get there though, the rain cuts out, alright. I have a light blue t-shirt that my ma gave me from the reunion she went to earlier this year in wyoming, a reunion for folks from the coal town she was born in called dines. it says "coal camp reunion 2006" and a picture of miner w/"welcome" on a sign hanging over his head. her grandpa was a carpenter in this town from the dolimiti part of italy, he was carlo piaia. I put my john coltrane pin on it, tomorrow would've been his eightieth birthday - much respect to him. I don't pace this time before and don't have my bass to warm up on and so instead sit and watch ron do his rounds. he never warms up before we play so I guess I'm kind of like him tonight. scotty's going to it w/his drumsticks though and steve's trying out reeds roadboss eric got him. time comes to hit the stage and we make our way to golf carts that roll us through the mud. we get up to the stairs and since there's not much to hide us on the stage, ig holler's "let's do it!" from there and I run up after getting my bass from eric. whoa, the strap's let out all the way and she's hanging 'pert-near down to my knees! there's a new tuner on scotty's drum riser for me - one chris brought, a petersen and since it's a stompbox, I got a big button to push to put me in. I forget to take me glasses off as "loose" starts the gig off and do the whole song w/them on. trippy to play w/out ever touching the strings and I've been using a garz bass frank wilson had custom built for me last week for five so cal gigs I had in a row so the feel's a little different. there's a L-shaped catwalk going out from the center of the stage and ig works that good, the argentine folks are quite vocal and going pretty much nuts. ig's got nina's camouflage pants on. we immediately go into "down on the street" and I have time to take my glasses off and put them on the riser but not to adjust the strap but whatever... I got my eyes one hundred percent on iggy and am never more than a foot in front of my amps, all this extra cord in a pile at my feet. the speakers in my rented rig sound beat, especially in the bottom - they're two 8x10 cabs being driven by two old-style ampeg svt amps. no matter, I charge on and leave the knobs the way chris set them. ig's voice is real loud (the way I like it) in my monitors, jos did a good job w/that - he's there for me lots. no fan tonight cuz it's cold... each exhale I do shoots a breath fog out that I can see and my fingers are a little dowel-like but not too bad. ig climbs up on my amps to hump them and accidently knocks my cord out so there's no bass for a little bit - I reach back and get it back in, no prob. I like iggy getting wild like that, I feel a little less self-consconscious about the strap being too long. after an intro by ig in spanish (I hear chants of his name being sung), we fire up "1969" and trot it out good - actually, we let it storm right out the barn! ...and just like an animal, we go into an animal song - "I wanna be your dog" and I'm looking at iggy the whole time but cuz he's so out in front, I see the crowd beyond him too and they're waving their hands pretty crazy much and there's also some pit action. must be mud out there though but I'm sure glad it stopped raining. scotty clicks in the hat all the way through ron's intro to hold the time, ig looks back though to make sure it all happens together and that it does - it's that righteous crazy fill that scotty has for this one that can keep you guessing but I really love it so, love scotty and he's playing really reallly slammin', like full-on. from my fitted w/collar and chain position - right in front of the amp - I can move a little to scotty's drum riser to help make my own bass-to-drum mix, happening. ig stage dives right into the folks and is out there for a bit while ron solos... man, he is working this gig hard - I love this ig man. I wish I could find good enough words in my own little baka world of a mindtrip to express it in the way I really feel it... man, this guy gets me fucking going! "tv eye" next but I'm thinking of what I got told in an email: "you have to be ready for iggy's attack all the time, I think you have to [be] well prepared..." and it's kind of that but reallly more holding a focus so I can do hard work. or maybe that means being able to absorb the blow and not go down - I have to admit I don't really wanna dodge him - number one: cuz I don't want him getting hurt (he told me that happened once when whitey from his trolls band ducked) and number two: man, it crazy wild to get kinetic w/the man! I'm only scared for my knees so I gotta be prepared for them not being vulnerable cuz getting hurt might screw up a future gig. so cuz of this message from a dear friend weighing in on me, I forgo the usually "shake my fucking brains right out of my head" deal w/the eyes close and instead vibrate my body as big time as I can get it while still having a tv (sort of!) eye on ig w/out a pause. it's kind of weird cuz it being the first stooge gig in three weeks, I'm a little out of shape - it usually takes one gig to whup me back up... no other kind of gig can really do that, it takes an actual stooge one. I blow the gliss leading down to the chug part - what's that about? fucking baka watt. ig brings in the "ram it!" part in a place that has be me cue scotty and ron a little later just to be safe and it puts ig on the off of our slams instead of w/them... kind of trippy but the band's still tight together, still tight w/iggy - just different. another intro in spanish from ig, this one for "dirt" and I back off the neck pickup w/the blend knob and add more bridge for definition. iggy does some intense deck slams and gets pretty grayed up from the dirt but like I said, this man is really working it and it's a fucking hard charge - I'm loving it. it ain't a frustrated thing either, he's diggin on the argentine cats and giving back to them what they're putting out - it's a righteous thing to behold... and be part of! that L-shape trip lets him almost be surrounded by cats too, alright. "real cool time" follows up, from slow grind to pumping and it's "c'mon stooges!" from ig and we stomp it up... shit, ig stomps it up and brings the kids on board - "break this shit down!" he hollers to folks who had a military dictatorship not too long ago - I love stooges playing these lands that have just broke out of bullshit like that, even thought they got new and different bullshit of these days to go through, it's still a notch up on fucking pigs in army suits playing fucking wannabe-daddy in the most dysfunctional bizarre and freudian-whatever way you could ever try and think of 'pert-near. I don't know if it's even that conscious of an idea cuz were too busy in the now making it happen... every anarchistic impulse I feel lives through stooges music - I know scotty feels that and iggy's let me know he knows that too... how can I make it clearer? I think that's what john coltrane's for, it's a way for me to relate those impulses cuz he's full of love and that's the way I want to be - ALWAYS. I have had to grow up some to admit that but it's what I truly believe. it's also why I'm here to learn, learn from iggy-sensei, learn from scotty-sensei - me and brother steve on the sax, students for life... we gotta hip ron somehow... I'm determined to call him up tomorrow and tell him I'm his man, I'm there for him... his. sure, we're in the moment now but I gotta get more clear w/my thinking cuz the words (or the use of words) get too clumsy and I'm not here to milk filler but relate a feeling, feelings. it's intense how this stooges music wins me over to its side, it always happens and never fails. am I slave? there's dancers up on the stage now - argentine dancers and they are getting way into it, yeah! "no fun" next, they dig when I lay the groove for ig but as the coda comes and ron whups it up, there they are to hear ig ask him "how do you feel, ron? how does this make you feel?" but then real slow like, I slip in some fills, and kids come starboard - whoa, check weird man... maybe he's weird like us when we grow up? that's scary but that's a REAL possibility. of course I have to laugh but more important, I have to play my best for this band and maintain focus - even picking out of the middle of a crowd of twenty intense argentine dancers. I get boy kisses. I get a gril one - the lady the almost got tossed (well, she's wearing a mc5 shirt - just kidding! love rob tyner), then another one and then more boy ones and hugs from them... the tune finishes - more hugs from them, more of them... much respect, I love you hermanos. I think eric took a head-fall and hope he's ok... ig told him to let this sister on stage but that gave some idiot a chance to sock him up some and they both went over - I saw it all as it happened cuz my eyes are locked on ig. band intros next, jos gets me some water - thank you, kind sir. ig calls me "from san pedro... mike watt" and that's great that the town I live in gets spoke about - I dig it! of course I have a fist high in the air for scotty and ron when they get their shout-outs, always cuz I owe them much. same w/ig but he usually forgoes his name to ask for "1970, right now!" and we rocket sled ourselves that way and open the floodgates for steve to move that sax on in. "steve mackay on sax" says ig and then duets w/ron for "mindroom" and some trippy reflection/guitar harmonics. I scuff my converses on the deck at the ready for ig to yelp "fun house" and I'm right there for him, no stammer and no stumblebum cuz I came to play - hey, that's what scotty wants to key on me, when ig in this song sings "I came to play!" - ain't that the fucking creed we're tying to be living? shit, even if w/out trying 'pert-near (not being lazy though), I know it's gotta erupt out of me someway cuz I'm bit, I got that jonesin' in on me if I don't let the fucker out - "I came to play!" god damn right! man, are me and scotty trading some wild fill shit and steve's pumping up some honk-honk that's hiking this shit way up - you can watch ig translate it into dance - his own wild tango-go so real-o fucking mind dance. ron's puting in some interesting innovation himself, alright... "put it in the pot, cook it up like jumbo!" then some wild freak w/"l.a. blues" but it's a little tough for me to work it on the little blue bass, I wonder why? I get some ok teeth-pulls in though and some "giant steps" riffs but there seems to be no sustain and at the end I can't get any feedback going like usual and scotty brings in "skull ring" w/only ron making some sounds. I got some "a love supreme" bass licks under ig's "I am you" near the end and as I quit it, I finally to get to hear steve's sax and can tell he's picked up on the riff and is jamming for trane too. same w/scotty... an early b-day tribute to him, amen. no sustain for me though sound the bass sound dies 'pert-near quikck after that last low 'e' but I wait it out that way 'till scotty brings us into "skull ring" and ig comes roaring out in a full swinging man maniac charge - look out! he's way out on that L-shaped catwalk but looks back at me for the "strong man w/steel rings" line - I always notice him doing that now. like I said, it's pretty cold but I've got some sweat going but I see some cat for an instant crowd surfing w/nothing but tourqoise speedos on, damn. some fucking idiots w/securidado vests who things there a leftover screw from la guerrra sucio ("the dirty war") grab at him, finally getting to his hair and brutally pull him towards them - I only saw it cuz I was looking across the folks to see ig out there on the catwalk but it makes me fucking sick. assholes. we go back to the jungle w/"little doll" - iggy tells everyone so after a that wild-sounding chant he's worked up for it. I use almost full front pickup (actually the middle one on this blue bass - I never use the neck one which is an original gibson) and play it pretty ok for where I am w/this bass though I do only get half the gliss in before the second verse cuz of something, not sure what - hey, that's it: I wasn't so sure! baka watt. ig goes into the crowd again for I don't know how many times... crimony! bam, we're out of that one and right into "little electric chair" and I try this ascending thing where I have been putting a 'g' pivoting on an 'e' but after the verse I dump that for the pivot. my solo's kind of shaky and I have to admit, full of clams - especially in the beginning of it. no warm up on it and I'm still shaky w/it though I did do good last time we played (it was in milano) but that was three weeks ago! actually, I used it in a los punkinhedz gig not too long back. aaarrrgggghhh, though - I wanna be strong w/it! more prac, that's what I need on it, more prac and more times in front of folks under my belt. the tune chugs away good though and I get to hear steve sax blow real good - actually, jos has got a real good sound on stage going, really happening. ron's been ripping some good leads tonight too, he has. here comes the double dog and ig wails it out there w/the folks, they love him lots and show it. we come off to the side of stage, I guess I'm in the way and get shoved out of the way where there's a chair ready for iggy - I didn't see it but am sorry. I crouch down on the deck like I usually do in front of him and await what's next. he calls the next tune and I run back out - jos has got the bass ready for me, thank you jos... I've been saying that a lot but I mean it - I usually don't have people doing that for me and it's mainly by choice and that's ok so there's only one guy to blame when it goes lame: me! "not right" starts up and we pull hard, aaarrrggghhh... sails taunt. "dead rock star" to finish and we're done - golf carts back to the dressing room. it's a mister toad's wild road but both carts make it back ok and we're soon where we were eighty minutes or something before. hard to believe how fast these things move for me in my mind, how fast the set seems to travel by. I'm not having any beers like last time cuz I felt better - these gigs take a bunch out of me, even fitted w/chain. I pull my shirt off and ig comes in, says he dug the gig and liked the way I was in the pocket - not just w/the bass playing but physically - he said every time he'd look back he'd see me in front of my amp... hmm... I wonder a little bit but decide not to tell him that's what's been decided for me. next he gives us all a big talk, everyone focused on him while he gives us a very to the point assessment as to how he sees things as they are. it's a very inspiring talk and it doesn't waffle and it's not ambiguous. it's brave and I'm sure glad we got it. I felt naked there w/my shirt off but it was serious stuff and maybe that's the best way to take it. I love ig, he ran that talk like a man I've always wanted to be, or someday grow up somehow to be. he put it where it meant much and it did mean much - I am very glad we were all there and it was a trip he was in the middle of the room like that but then he is the hub all us spokes rally around, it was beautiful.
me and steve do a spiel for a buenos aires radio station and the man says there were folks to see me. I'm glad I got the dry shirt I was wearing when I arrived cuz the less of me see blush red. steve gets yet another chance to use his spanish too, great job. after some argentine pizza (soft thicker crust and much different cheese - way different than one from buono's here in pedro) and good spiel from nice locals (artie shaw's son john w/his son among them), we load up into the van and it's a much quicker ride home than getting except for one thing. el hombre (the man) pulls us over - we're told it's nothing but a stop for control and the driver's and van's papers are checked by the policia. just like that: "it's control" and you're pulled over. whoa. papers checked, we're allowed on and back the 'tel we go... me and steve going to scotty's room to spiel. now I have a little of that econo beer I got yesterday. ron said he was gonna come but never did. we have a good spiel. I konk easy maybe an hour and half later, just after bailing and saying bye to my friends.
the next morning I pop early, shovel from the gratis trough and then chimp up last night's gig in the diary. that rain we had last night cleared out and at around two pm, me and sax man steve venture into the town and search for this open market area he's heard about so he can procure some yerba mate along w/the gourds and the silver sippy straw they used to take it down. we head north from the fancy pad and eventually find this park area called the recoleta and there's all kinds of little tented stands where artisans are selling their works. he finds what he was searching for and I find some lightbulbs w/little ships built inside them, these bulbs aren't functioning lights now that they have boats in them but they origionally were, a neat twist on the ship-in-the-bottle trip. I also find a kalimba made out of a gourd and that's great cuz I was looking for one so the guitarist of my new missingmen trio, tom watson, could play it for this tune we're doing - our first gig ever is the coming wednesday. I like hoofing around and exploring w/steve, he's a very interesting cat and makes himself very aware plus he has lots of experiences and so it's quite a blend of the two you find yourself in being w/him. on the way back we chow at this empanada pad and the boss there recognizes me from a picture in an article in the paper and this basque cat named para strikes up a neat conversation w/us. you meet interesting folks when you travel - a definite benefit of this gig I got, working the bass. lucky fucking watt. we make it back just in time for me to hose off (spaced on that this morning) and then we all pile into the minivan for the airport... trippy leaving at seven pm rather than seven am but everyone's digging it - nothing worse then playing your brains out and then not getting a good konk but I don't wanna sound like whining cuz the main thing is I get to play my brains out! we're all on the same plane to atlanta (us stooges band guys except iggy and helperman chris - ig's going straight home to miami) and that's ten hours I konk most of, thank you john coltrane-filled ipod machine and at atlanta we all head for different planes. mine to l.a. is delayed on the runway for an hour cuz of a rain that came down so I'm an hour late coming back (a big sorry to my sister melinda who didn't know about that and had to wait) but it's still in time to get straight to my practice pad in pedro and prac my new trio, the missingmen w/tom watson on guitar and raul morales on drums (our first three gigs are in a couple of days). I usually never talk to fellow passengers and get lost in my own world for sanity's sake but the lady next to me wants to know about crazy bass player life, her daughter was probably bored to tears or thought it sounded more like crazy weird older insane man what does anything have to bass life but the BASS is the only reason I'm on that plane. that and d. boon and it was his ma who put me on that machine. amen.
iggy pop + the stooges
in europe, july 2006
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