mike watt + the secondmen
watt - thud staff, spiel
pete mazich - organ, singing
jerry trebotic - drums
(top to bottom)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
tuesday, april 8 - salt lake city, ut
the chief woke us up early as we had a bit of a hellride to salt lake- everyone else was still conked from the night before except for bart; we bid him goodbye and we were off once again to our next port of call. Much respect bart and steph for the good vibes.
the ride was uneventful; I conked about half of the trip and berated myself in my sleep for my personal fiasco the night before- I was determined to be more focused at the next show and not let the chief and jer down; in any event these gig mindfucks do happen sometimes but you have to be prepared for hills as well as valleys. I flipped w/ jer and rode shotgun the rest of the trip- caught some real nice snaps of the countryside but for the most part it was long stretches of emptiness, very desolate landscape. on a positive note, it looked like we had finally shaken the bad weather-the gray shit broke and we had some real nice sunshine on the trip; we only hoped that it would last us a couple more days until we got to new mexico (very kind for my skin too; less maui onion, more baby's ass).
we rolled into salt lake around 3:00? - the pad was called "liquid Joe's" and looked a little bit like a circuit city store from the outside- nobody had arrived yet so me and jer decidewd to go check out the thrift store across the street. what a find! I scored five real kind flannels, a nice girly purple velvet bag for my tool kit and a copy of a book on the grateful dead for under fifteen bucks. I was happy as a clam and headed back across the street to stow my bounty. one of the bar cats, jeremy had showed up and popped the hatch and we loaded the gear in and set everything up. The soundman showed up and miked everything up and we ran thru "the red and the black". everything sounded copacetic and I could hear everything real good- I felt content and I moved over to the bar and did a little chimping and had a beer. I finished the chimp and me and jer went in search of chow. we scoped a little chinese pad up the street and mowed thru some real kind shrimp and noodles w/ garlic sauce (very welcome), then headed back to the club. we all sat in the green room and rapped a little; the cat that had written the scathing portland show review had written a reply after reading our posts and sounded somewhat humbled ( still didn't say whether he wanted to ride in the boat w/us), but no hard feelings either way. It's everyone's right to state their opinions but it's not cool to be bellige and mean about it. An old pedro friend of watt's - don dalton (who's pad we were crashing at) showed up w/ his lady denise and we rapped for awhile; don's mom was the librarian at pedro high for many years and I remembered her well- she ran that pad like a drill sargeant but she had a heart of gold. she was always cool w/ me. we rapped w/ don and denise throughout the opening band's set (apples in stereo they were called; poppy college rock w/ cool vocals), and then it was time for us to hit the stage. we plowed thru the new stuff and my confidence held thru; blew a few clams but we were light years ahead of when we started playing the tunes. all three of us were on and the crowd dug on the energy- I felt real good about the show (we had a real decent draw for a tue. nite too) and I felt redeemed. mike slung the merch while me and jer had our customary drivers' , then we broke down the gear. several cats came up to us and told us how much they liked the show- this really meant a lot to me. There was even a cat there from La Habra (north OC in cali !). Don helped me pack up the B3 and we loaded the stuff up into the boat then headed on over to his pad. I unrolled the bag and laid it out on the deck, read a little from my newly acquired dead book and conked much happier than the night before......
pop up early to happily find the sun out bright - wow, almost cali weather except maybe a little cooler but not too much. what's wild is there's not a cloud in the sky. I hose off in shower and then hoof down the street and get some coff. I come back here to bart and steph's pad to find everyone like I left them: konked. I'm not sure where pete and jer so I go down in the cellar and find nothing but fuzzy circus cats. hmm... well, there's a trailer in the backyard so I go check there and yep, there's pete and jer - great. I roust them and say we gotta bail cuz it's another kind of long one to salt lake city. we got great driving conditions though. man, to think there was snow on the ground here the day before yesterday - whoa! very lucky timing for sure. bart stirs and we say bye to him as I take the boat out to the freeway. the very first exit we come on though has a 'way so we head there for chow. I give the lady there a happy greeting but she's all sourface - oh well. I get tuna and try this new chipotle sauce they got on it. jive - can't taste any smoked jalapeno flavor on it at all. like most hype: flacid. or like pete would say, "nano-flacid." I'm chowing this sandwich in the boat while I wait for pete and jer to get their morning beverages, coff for pete and hot chocolate for jer (jer doesn't drink coff). I guess there's a line for them cuz it takes a little while but that's ok so I can finish up for driving.
there's a pretty big headwind as we sail east on the I-84. the boat's buffeted w/some blows but it's manageable - I always keep both hands on the wheel as much as possible cuz you never know... the scene outside the windows is idaho prairie - not a lot of trees but nice in it's own way - I've learned to appreciate any kind of nature that hasn't been bulldozed into track home and mall. the snake river does just that, it snakes under the freeway at many points along our route including the canyon at twin falls where evil knievel blasted in a rocket motorcycle some years ago. I'm wearing raymond's sweater again - I've been driving in it and wearing it after gigs to be dry and sweating out flannels. it gives me a good feeling like I got some of that pettibon spirit in me or rather protecting me. I found a safety pin somewhere and have that pinned on it too. trippy wearing a sweater - can't remember when I last wore one. I know fall chills are probably the best promoters of such attire but it's been good to me in these climes so far on the tour. you have to understand that raymond is an incredible inspiration for me and he's one of the people that I think of automatically when emotions rush on me. of course their are significant (very) others too... but not many! I wish I could explain exactly why that is but certain folks strike me in such a singular way. at the same time though, it's a very wide swath the washes over me and colors my thoughts so. I think it's me learning in a way, growing and becoming more of who I am, who I'm to be. I am not so singular but sometimes like a reed resonating in these significant (for me) winds. my experiences filter these "lessons" or whatever but they give to me perspectives to challenge and call myself out on what seems important to address. important shit really, not just hunches or asides - I can burst right into tears, the feelings can get that strong. it's important for me though. I can get so self-absorbed and these "teachers" or whatever learn me much - even though it's me in a way giving myself the lesson. they become trippy kind of mirrors to bounce understanding or reasoning off of. it's their personality - at some period in the past where we discussing whatever, that train of thought becomes the vehicle to help me w/something that can be wholly of another subject. maybe that's crazy but that's some of the workings inside me. how much more can I thank people like this in my life? never ever enough.
pete and jer take turns konking in the back seat and riding up front w/me in the passenger seat. there's spiel but I feel a little hoarse and try to limit myself. these cats are interesting though and listening is far from a problem. even though they're around eight years younger than me, they've lived some life and it's not hard at all to relate to them. they don't reference many things I don't have a clue about which sometimes surprises me cuz I feel I kind insulate myself more and more as time goes on. I have to say though that maybe they take me into consideration cuz current culture stuff like movies, tv shows, gossip or whatever doesn't come up much even though I can kind of tell they're much more aware of that contemporary stuff than I am. they're both very generous w/my feelings and go for common ground rather than make feel ignorant or clueless. I have to say though that when jer's in the back and konked, the farts flow freely. this sharing of things wordless is maybe not so considerate but probably is not on purpose. it kind of makes me and pete gag actually. this makes the age difference really insignificant. I should also say that I feel in some ways both of my friends here are much more mature than me - look at them, both fathers and w/families: pete w/wife ljil and three kids - seventeen, fourteen and three (the oldest two from a previous marriage) and jer w/wife kel and a little baby girl rilei. they can teach me a lot I don't know!
across the border and into utah - bye bye idaho. we hit the I-15 and south, past promontory, where the first transcontinental railroad was joined. I've taken a lot of my bands to visit this place but not this time cuz I gotta catch up on the diary. I like to write about the day that just was and I'm two behind now cuz of all the hellrides. I'll catch up and be right after today. I think it's good for my mind to do these chimpings. too bad jer isn't this tour cuz he has some great things to say but at least pete is. I can understand why jer is cutting it loose - his wife kel is using his laptop for school. pete's got his new apple tibook (g4) and is very much stoked w/that. he's gonna use it for a pro tools studio at home too so him and his wife ljil can record stuff. when you don't have your own 'puter, it's hard to chimp when you feel the time is right for you. I know it would be for me.
the traffic into salt lake city is very calm - way easier than the days of when the winter olympics were coming here and road construction was a nightmare. we head for the sugar house part of town and to liquid joe's - the site of lots of my latest gigs in this town. the weather has held and it's almost like we were back home in pedro, whoa. that's great. there's a bagel place nearby and I get one and read the local listings weekly - it's the "best of... (place town here)" issue. funny how tour lets you see how generic these things kind of are - I wonder if folks who don't travel around much realize this? there are stories specific to the town though so if you're a visitor (like me) than you can pick up a little on what's going on. I think that's a good thing. I then catch up on my chimping my diary. trippy doing it w/sunlight on me and finding myself not bundled in blankies. the tour has definitely taken a different turn. pete and jer go shopping at a nearby thrift shop and pete comes back w/some neat flannels and a book on the grateful dead that a tour manager for them wrote. jer got a shirt w/bongos on it. the chinese restaurant across the street where I usually get soup closed, damn. oh well - when the club opens, one of the manager guys gets us some veggies and fruit and I chow that w/jer. the fruit has a dip like veggies have but it's vanilla and honey stuff, trippy but good - never had anything like it before. I won't starve cuz jer did feed me some 'dines on crackers as we were getting close on the ride in.
we do soundcheck w/soundman matt and then I retire to the boat and konk. a band called apples in stereo is opening and I'm sorry I miss them cuz I remember playing w/them during the first "this ain't no picnic" festival a few years ago. pete comes and gets me when it's our turn and I get myself going to do the do. it's kind of hard to find my land legs and I find myself a little hobbling. my hoarseness is a little bit of a problem too but these folks are very nice to play for - they support us much and are a contrast to some (please understand not all) of the back-of-the-room-yammerers of the last two shows. I really don't mind too much playing for those people either cuz who knows, you might be planting a seed somewhere in their heads or whatever. I am learning to let go and not have to always play the control freak and just try my best, giving everyone the benefit of a doubt to whether it's getting through or not cuz really, how can I be so absolutely sure I actually can tell what's being absorbed and what's being ignored? I think this is an important lesson for me to learn - I know I was much better at it in the minutemen days but of course I had d. boon to lean on too. oh well. I try my hardest but the singing is a little tough. it frustrates me a little but I make myself laugh instead of pout. I think of the most beautiful smile I can - I put it in my head a let shine like a sun all over me. it's almost like a shower - wow. tour can sure throw you the challenges, huh? my guys are really wailing w/their performances, that makes me glad too, very very proud of them. they are plowing and powering this troubled bass man big time. I feel a little weak even - maybe a little more than the hobbled I mentioned before. I feel vulnerable even but there is nothing really threatening me - these folks are so kind. one thing that's kind of funny is the bartender ringing a tip bell during our quiet parts, pretty much bumrushing the "sensitive aura" we're trying to evoke. everyone - us and the crowd laugh much w/each "ding-ding-ding" that bursts out. when we finish, they talk much niceness and get stuff from me. one man is a doctor and gives me things in case I get sick. what nice well wishes - I immediately transfer some of that where I love most and hope it helps. I am not sick myself, just a little worn maybe. a man named mark gives me a first amendment shirt - this cat who owns a little brewery dumped barrels of his beer into the great salt lake as a protest the other day I'm told. I put it on over my flannel to show solidarity. the last of the li'l pit singles are gone and now it's time to move to the crimony ones - wow, I recorded this w/paul roessler like sixteen years ago. it was my first keyboard/bass project though so it's fitting it's here w/me now. brother matt had a bunch in his garage somehow, that tripped me out how that happened but whatever - they're here now! the funny paths life takes, huh? the apples in stereo cats are very sweet to me and one of them relates meeting me when he was sixteen in washington dc. what a dear. oh how I wish d. boon could be here for him to hug too.
my good friend don (who grew up in pedro - his ma was our librarian at san pedro high) invites us to his pad and we follow him home. somehow, me and my guys get to discussing how fucked up it is to get spammed so w/bullshit porn email and as we're climbing the stairs up inside don's pad, I relate one stupid shit piece I got - not realizing anyone is here at don's (cuz most the time he's alone) but just as I say what was in this email I see don's girlfriend right in front of me in a chair, under a blankie. damn, I've never been more embarrassed (it seems) - I never would've said something like that in respect for someone I didn't even know. I get very very very red in the face and quickly leave the room - aaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhh. what a fucked up scene. don says it's alright but fuck... into the sack quick w/the shamed watt and blessed konk relieves further humiliation. damn, what a fucking idiot I am.
wednesday, april 9 - boulder, co
popped around 8:30 on don's deck and immediately went in search of a shower as I was in dire need of one. did a quick scrape of the beard and got under the welcome nozzle; don has one of those water saver shower heads and it's like standing under someone while they're spitting water on you, so it took a little longer than usual. I felt a hell of alot better and went into the kitchen where don was cooking us up some real kind shrimp and eggs. I rolled the juevos and crustaceans up into a flour tortilla, doused em' w/ some hot salsa and went at it (very welcome). jer and the chief had already munched and went down to the boat; I heard the roar of the engine and that was a clue that we were leaving- don had already taken off to work and I packed my stuff up as fast as I could. grabbing the ti book under one arm, bag in the other and clothes bag I ran down the stairs. I bumped into something on the flight down and turned my head just in time to see one of the potted plants on the stairs follow me down. fucking leaves and dirt everywhere (where the fuck am I going to get a broom now?). I quickly kind of swept things off to the side feeling very embarassed that I had fouled this gracious man's abode and didn't clean it up (very big sorry don, I'll let you mess up my living room when you come to pedro to visit), but when the chief says we gotta go- we gotta go. we had a relative hellride to boulder but the weather was really nice and it looked like it was going to be a cool trip.
we pulled into town around five? and pulled in back of the place ( a pad called the Fox theatre) , and jer went in to get the back hatch popped . it was a relatively easy load-in as the door opened up right onto the stage and the kind crew people helped us load the gear in and set it up. The pad was really cool - an old theatre and the sound system looked killer. a cat named phil was in charge of the FOH, while a young lady named Karen was running the monitors. they miked us up and we did the check'- everything sounded cool, so we broke down. there were two bands opening up for us (sonar and jeep) and we had some time to blow so we headed on down to the green room cause' I had to chimp some diary and I was . me and watt dug up some sandwich material out of the fridge and dug in, dipping the sandwiches into some real tasty hot sauce that was provided for us. I started the chimp cycle and jer waited for me to finish so we could go scope out the crowd a little. I finished up and we went and had some cocktails and rapped w/ a real nice cat named scott about the tour. we listened to the opening band- they reminded me of U2 sort of, college rock stuff. we went back to the green room and I laid out awhile while the second band went up- sonar, the first band came down w/ some of their friends and me and jer rapped w/ them for awhile- real nice cats.
jeep finished up their set and I went to go wake up the chief- me and jer dragged the tools into place and waited for the man to arrive. He ambled in, merch bag in hand- plugged in the baby bass, said the customary "hi" and we were off.... The audience seemed to be into the new material and the rest of the set went down well but I was feeling a little beat and didn't feel like I gave a hundred percent. we played good and the focus was together but I was just feeling tired and felt i could have done better. The crowd was very gracious and payed us many compliments- very nice people. watt slung the merch while me and jer broke down the tools and the crew helped us load up the boat. watt went to settle w/ the boss and me and jer hung out backstage rapping w/ the crew. I had a gear-head conversation w/ karen and we traded sound stories and compared tatoo's (she had some real nice ink). very articulate young lady- kudos to her for giving her all in a predominately male field. much respect. A lady named kristy offered us up her pad to crash at, so we hopped in the boat and followed her to her place. many thanks to Phil, Karen, Robin, Tyler and all the rest of the real pro crew at the fox; great sound and cool vibes. we got to kristy's and rapped w/ everyone for awhile about the shitty war sitch and pedro and consumed some real kind brew. The sandman soon calleth so I rolled out the bag and climbed in. It didn't take long for me to conk, solid......
pop at around eight and hose off plus a shave. I have to admit I skip some days although I have tried to make a commitment to keep myself clean-shaven this tour. a big change from most tours where I let my beard grow like I was at sea in the old days. I don't know, seems the climate of these days kind of calls for that. I hoof to the post office down the road some so I can make my payment for that surgery that saved my life during the illness - some good news by the way is that my health insurance has been approved finally. it's taken a while but I'm covered now. all these years having to have the boat insured and now her driver is too. this is a piece of mind I can dig and I'm grateful. I get back and find don's made us some great breakfast - scrambled eggs w/shrimp in it to be chowed w/chillies on tortillas - really good. I give him big hugs and thanks for the righteous hospitality he always shows me. it's sad we didn't get to rap much - these hellrides have left little time for much of that this tour. oh well.
it's over five hundred miles to our next gig in boulder so we gotta get going. the weather is once again beautiful - a bright azure sky w/out a single cloud. we dodged the snow bullet by not much - don said it was all over here only a couple days ago. holy cow. we head east on I-80 and my guys are in excellent spirits - they've been like that every morning this tour and I can't tell you how much that helps to make things so happening. nothing worse than gruff and sad spirits to drag things down. our morale is super high and it buoys watt much. this is a quality I value big time and has me feeling so very grateful. I can't thank my guys enough, their attitudes are as bright and inspiring as the weather we've been blessed w/and what more could any rudder man for a band ask for? much respect to pete and jer.
this first part of the ride is up through parley's canyon toawards evanston in wyoming. this stretch of road will haunt me as long as I tour cuz this is where during a fIREHOSE tour that the van hit some black ice and spun almost completely around, nearly ending us up in a horrible wreck. somehow I hung on and the van spun into the infield and stayed on all four tires. now, as I steer over that same route, my mind fills w/the nightmare of that shit. there's snow all on the sides of the road but the freeway itself is w/out ice and in good shape. the grades are steep but the boat does what she can to get us up and over. her motor is tired but we persevere - maybe not at blinding speed but I have no complaints as she chugs her way the best she can. much blessings for the boat.
we cross into wyoming which is where my ma is from as a little girl. the town was a company coal one called dines and turned into a ghost one once the coal ran out. my ma and her brother david (where I get my middle name from) rented a van a went back to where it was a few years ago to find some ruins. must've been trippy for them. I think of my ma as I drive us through these parts. sometimes I try to think of what she must think of her boy, how he turned out and all. she must've had no idea I'd come to this - hell, I never did either, I just wanted to be w/d. boon. I know she can relate to that cuz she's told me she has before. my ma did so much for her kids - me and my sisters, all the struggles w/raising us and doing the best she could and w/her boy, this is how it seems to be what it added up to. I've told her that there's parts of her in what I do - I would definitely be something entirely other w/out her influence on me. there's pieces of her in my way - this is not to blame her for anything cuz I think these things I'm talking about are positive traits, things to be proud of and have helped to balance or even counter the clams in life I fuck up w/time to time. my ma always seemed to want to get below the surface on things and dig around and under at what might be more of the real truth of the matter. this rubbed off on me. she impressed upon me too that there was a sense of art to life, you had breathe a creative wind into what just seemed so much like form or sleepwalking - you had to pinch yourself to make sure you were awake, even talk to yourself if there wasn't anyone else to ask questions - part of life was somehow trying to make a case for it. I think a ma has an important effect on her boy. I tell pete and jer about my roots a bit - they're born and raised in pedro and in that way I'm different cuz pedro didn't come into my life 'till after some journeying and the w/the touring as a punk rocker, I still find myself a journeyer. exploring w/the mind, being encouraged to do it as a boy by my ma is somewhat responsible for this life I lead now which is kind of like some sort of an explorer. to tour is to sally forth, to tilt at windmills. my pop's sailor life too influenced this. I'm lots different than both my folks but for me, it's quite easy to realize how much a part of them, or maybe an extension of them I am. when you experience mike watt, you're also getting parts of jean and dick watt. for me, this makes sense.
we stop for gas and I find a funny wyoming postcard and send it to my ma. man, does the wind blow out here - whoa! lots and lots of open spaces, not many towns. the freeway is the best it's been for me ever. usually there's been construction all along it but now it's a clear shot - 75 mph 'pert-near the whole way. it's the first time for pete out here and he digs the sights. him and jer switch and we cross the continental divide. jer shovels crackers w/'dines on them while I keep both hands on the wheel. thanks, jer. at laramie (where joe carducci lives), we turn south on us-287 and head into colorado. at fort collins, we go east a little and then south on I-25 and then west on co-116 to boulder. I was tempted once just to take us-287 all the way down to boulder but they've built towns all along it and the going has you plugged much so fuck that. there's mall and track home land which grows more each time I come out here though so it's not as a straight shot as it used to be.
eight hours of driving finally comes to a halt. I give thanks like I do each time we get to where we're going from where we started - the same as I do when I ask for help for love ones w/heavyness or sickness - I think of that pete townshend album cover where he's in combat boots on eggshells - we are in fragile circumstances and that's a heavy truth. breathe in, watt - breathe out. again. the gig is a the fox theatre, right by the college. people are dressed like it was cali and that suits the weather. we're told last week over thrity inches of snow shut things down harsh. this theatre is a neat pad and the folks working here are really nice people, very much. sounman phil and karen on monitors make soundcheck a snap. the fox also has a sushi pad and I get a california roll. seeing how boulder is in the middle of the country, kind of far from the ocean, I wonder about where the fish comes from but not too much cuz that might kind of freak me out. I don't eat that much so it's ok. I do play trippy on it when I do chow it though. across the street is a great record store called "albums" and the cats there talk to me and have me sign a poster. they're very nice and have the minutemen cds out for sale. I then go to the boat to chimp diary and then konk. there's a club next to the fox that has some rap going on and that thumps through the boat. many years of touring allow me to konk easy anyway.
jer comes gets me and it's show time (or like tom watson would say in that voice of his "that's showbiz!"). I missed the openers, locals called sonar and jeep. I have jer run out and check the boat to make sure it's locked cuz I had a weird feeling. I had the same feeling in portland and sure enough, pete found the driver's hatch unlocked (stupid fucking watt). not so this time but I'm glad to have the peace of mind. the monitors are great and this helps me out big time - thank you, karen. I like the way my guys are playing again - I have still yet to be disappointed on this tour even if there's some little stuff that could be tucked in a little bit better. it is an honor to play w/the secondmen, truly. I do get a out of tune a little, damn. that's been happening a bit this tour - I've been wrestling a little too intense maybe? what the fuck, I think the intenseness is necessary somehow. I want to show life being vital and this is my way. the sushi is having an effect on me too, especially in the encore where I unconsciously kind of do a medley of "sister ray/om om om/little doll/little johnny jewel" in one swirl. I ad lib spiel too, not thinking about it but just letting feelings come out any which way: hurt/confusion/sex/emotion/irony/scared little bass player/empathy/weirdness/pleading - it's all a mess of a watt on bass w/his guys. I love them though and have much respect too for this crowd that has given us such respect - you can hear a pin drop in the quiet parts - what open hearts they have. there's some funny stuff too, one cat keeps saying "drummer, drummer" and finally jer tells him his name is jerry. my take on "little doll" was a little bizarre but I had something strange running through me and that's the way it just worked out.
very kind spiel from the folks as I sling - I'm out of li'l pit singles now and sling many crimony ones. it's not just about that though, there's much good word and I thank these cats much. I got an email before from a cat name jay who offered konk accommodations and I call his name but can't hear a reply so I ask the folks if they can but up three pedro dudes and have the boat be safe. this nice lady christine and her buddies are kind to have us and then jay comes up to me - he says it's ok, he lives in denver and that's a bit of a drive anyway so I thank him for understanding (it's hard for me to drive far after playing my brains out) and then he gets me some music from his gig on the southpole plus something from old friend howard wuelfing when he was w/the nurses. thank you much, jay.
we follow christine and her crew to a town not too far called lafayette and I immediately get into my sack on the couch there. her friends ask me things about tour cuz they're quite surprised in a way we're here cuz it all kind of happened so fast. one cat has seen me for years and never has talked w/me though he's wanted to and well, here I am. I can't say too much cuz I'm very much beat but I try to answer as much as I can. one cat asks me how old I am and when I tell him (fortyfive) he's amazed and wants to know what I eat! I tell him what I've chowed in the last few days. these are some nice cats but fatigue is relentless on me and I must relent. I got my mask down. pete lets one of the guys have his mask and my last vision is seeing it around his head, ready to go down. mine goes down and I answer a couple more queries but the motor's running on just fumes now and like I said, I must relent. konk descends upon me.
thursday, april 10 - santa fe, nm
popped to the sound of jer and watt rapping w/ kristy and friends; she toasted us up some bagels and we munched happily, washing it down w/ coffee and oj. I went to the boat and got some stickers out for everyone (the "bush out of the us now" and "let us prey" ones), as I wanted as many people as possible to spread the message. I think we're in for a load of shit w/ our arrogant and oil happy administration and we should never fail to let them know that we what's up. sad, disappointing times- it really fucking pisses me off. We loaded up the boat and bid our goodbyes and we were off. much respect to kristy, mike , chad and everyone for the brew and good vibes.
it was a gonna be a hellride to new mexico and I had the bench seat but I just couldn't fall asleep- even tho' I was exhausted! I did some light sleeping and reading for most of the trip and then flipped w/ jer for the last two hours. mike had neglected to download the snaps from the camera into the puter' for a few days and we had about 600+ snaps to do. It took the entire trip to do it so we ended up not taking any additional snaps. we pulled up in front of the place (a pad called the paramount) at about five o'clock and unloaded all the stuff w/ the help of the boss, a real nice cat named geronimo. (we had played the same pad last tour but this time we were in the "big room" rather than the smaller one). It was going to be an early show as they had some kind of a reggae dance party going down after ( last time they had a disco thing going down in the big room). we did the check' and everything sounded cool so we broke down the tools and let the first band lay out their gear (they were called I believe -"bagarelli and the cut-outs"?). Geronimo set us up w/ some chow and I mowed it down w/ much relish ( it was my first solid chow of the whole day and I already felt the blood sugar waning), after which I went to go clean up a little and do some chimping on the ti book. Nicole, laura, and her boyfriend anthony showed up (we had crashed at nicole's pad last tour) and we rapped a little while I did the diary. I finished up and laid down for a little pre-gig conk as we were going on soon. The opening band went on and they sounded pretty interesting (flourishes of country, blues and rock), but there was too much dead space in between their tunes and that brought it down for me a little ( you need to keep wailing to keep the peeps happy- leave the between-song breaks for the jam band cats). I went to scope out the crowd; it looked like we were doing a cave tonite but I decided I wasn't going to let that bring me down (the cats that had paid to get in deserved no less than 100% ). the cut-outs finished up their set and it was time for us to wail; we set up the gear and I went to go wake up the chief- he was understandably groggy but shook it off quickly. we ambled onstage and started out the set; The crowd was hanging out mostly at the bar (out of fear I assume), and I was starting to get irritated (I could tell watt was too)- we plowed thru the new material, did the madonna songs ( I did them much more aggro- a suggestion from watt) and the crowd began to warm a little. Nicole, Laura, and anthony got out on the dance floor and started the groove (god bless em') and this broke the ice a little for the other people; more started migrating from the bar. we did "walking the cow" and watt glared at everyone at the bar during the tune, challenging them to come down off of their self-imposed thrones of fear (it worked). we then went into the "big bang theory" (by this time we were all really pissed and the aggression was filtering into the performance), when watt breaks a string- I think this throws us off a little but we plow thru the remainder of the song. watt does a spiel while he changes the string and the inevitable heckling starts. some cat yells out "don't talk, play"! and I could tell watt was a little peeved by this comment- he replied that the heckling was of a low quality and the cat eventually shut his noisy pie hole. we ramrodded straight into forever/one reporter's opinion and really brought the playing up to freight train level- the monitors were weak and we could barely hear ourselves up on stage but alex did his best and we soldiered on thru the set ( I think we did the most aggro version of "amnesty report" ever) and I changed the lyrics a little ("and they were thrown against the bar"), after which I added an appropriate "fuck you" in the screaming part at the end ( we were determined to beat these cats into submission). we got an intense response from the crowd and everybody was on the floor by the end of the set- I think we succeeded in a small way in giving em' a jolt in the yang and they were digging it. we went backstage for a few minutes and ruminated over the gig- the crowd was getting loud wanting us to come back and go back we did hitting them w/ "sister ray"....real hard. afterwards, several cats came up and commended us on a job well done and watt slung the merch from the stage while me and jer did the pack. halfway thru the pack, the dj comes in and the coltrane is replaced w/ super bass-heavy reggae, and he cranked it up real loud( I dig on reggae but this was an unwelcome bogart). I felt good about the gig and liberated in a way- nicole told me that I look psycho when I play- I told her it was sort of intentional (it wasn't really, as I was feeling really psycho during the set and when I focus on watt and jer- I get that look I guess). we loaded up the boat w/ the gear; anthony helped me load in the b3 -he tripped and almost took a major dive (250 lbs. of metal and wood on top of you doesn't present a pretty picture), but he came out unscathed (sorry about that anthony). we finished loading up the gear and hopped into the boat for the 40 minute drive to nicole's pad (she lives in Albuequerque)- we talked about the gig on the way and watt was happy that we hadn't choked ( I was too) , but I think we all had a fierce determination to get the crowd on the flow w/ us and I think we succeeded admirably. much respect to alex the soundman, babe on the lights and geronimo for the help and good vibes.
we got to nicole's pad and brought our stuff in, rapped for a bit w/ anthony about music and politics ( I was busy tweaking the diary) , and then I felt the sueno veil creeping up over the eyes( as did the others), so I climbed into the bag and conked quickly and happily....... (to the sounds of nicole's pet guinea pigs purring contentedly).
pop to much brightness coming through the windows. actually, I've been popping up at like seven or so each morning and the light doesn't have much bearing on that cuz I've got the mask on so what I really mean is that I lift up my mask to find much sunlight flooding the living room here. pete's on the deck trying to keep it out w/arms over his face. he seems to be able to stay up much later and rap w/the folks we stay w/while I can't hang so much - I'm just so beat that konks takes me down 'pert-near quick after getting to the pad. pete always does long konks on the drives to make up for the sleep debt. I have to say that we're all in really good health up to this point and that is a very good thing. happening health is precious. I do good health prayers every morning and through out the day for the ones I love - a treasured gift as having your body together is so easily taken for granted but man do you feel it when that gets threatened - it just lays your shit out and makes even the slightest move or just a thought a monumental struggle. wellness is the foundation from which endeavors can be launched the best you can.
christine makes coff and then goes and gets some bagels for us. the other cats who were here w/us last night get up as do my guys and there's lots of talk while I get email. I get flowed something that says the war might be over soon cuz saddam hussein is out of business or something - both of those things would be great, I think - no more war and him gone. however, I don't really know anything - the press doesn't seem that independent so it's hard to know what's spin and whatever. I am hoping for the best though. the parallel to health in your own body (and your own mind) is health on this world. war doesn't seem too healthy. I really do hope it's ending. in another email, kristin sends me from baudelaire's "flowers of sickness and evil," this poem:
man and the sea
free man, always you cherish the sea!
the sea is your mirror, you see your soul
in the swells' infinite roll,
you both are abysses equally.
you are pleased to plunge deep into its image
you embrace it with your eyes and arms, and your heart
is disturbed by a roar that never stops and never starts,
the noise of its cry unconquerable and savage.
you are both dark and discreet:
man, none have sounded your depths,
o sea, none know your intimate riches
so jealous are you to guard your secrets.
and yet for centuries unceasing
you've fought without pity or regret
so much do you love carnage and death,
eternal wrestlers, you brothers unappeased!
not much time to discuss much cuz another hellride awaits us. we got santa fe in new mexico to play tonight and it's almost four hundred miles. we say thanks and bye to everyone and head off for the freeway. I-25 south through denver - damn, is there lots of traffic but we take it careful - better late than never, huh? the road mash stays thick through colorado springs and then something trippy happens. there's this truck-trailer semi driving pretty crazy, taking insane risks like diving into small openings in the lanes at high speed. I say to my guys, "what the fuck" and they think this shit is stupid too. w/those vehicles, you're dealing w/like forty thousand pounds and a potential to make all kinds of damage. when this guy cuts me off again, I tell pete and jer that we're getting off to get gas, we kind of need it soon anyway and besides, I want to get as far away from this fuckhead as possible. after refueling both the tanks and our guts (I get a bag of nuts), we get back on the freeway and after a few minutes, colorado state troopers come zipping past - one, then two, then a third - sirens/lights on, the whole bit. a few minutes after that we see on the other side of the road, a semi flipped over on it's side in a ditch but it's pointing the way we're driving, not the other way which is where the other side of the road's traffic is heading. it's obvious it came from our side of the road and a pretty good guess it was that wack driver pulling all those stunts. quite humbling for us. driving a vehicle is a heavy responsibility - I wish we could all firmly agree and stand united on that issue. you see something like this and you get the weirdest feeling down inside... you can't think about it too much or you'll go nuts but you can be more careful. so sad to see this happen.
pass pueblo and we're climbing the foot of the rockies now. raton pass is just pass the border into new mexico and it's the highest summit we're taking this tour - 7834 feet (a lot of our trip today is along the old sant fe trail). snow on the roadside but not on the road itself so we're cool. the sky's getting some clouds now but they look calm and the temperature hovers around the seventies the whole drive. it's ravishing for the eyes to absorb all the great views. not a lot of towns in these parts and the ones we do see are pretty tiny. we go through las vegas (not that one but the one here in new mexico) and finally head into santa fe. whew, another eight hour drive. I'm ok though w/handling these hellrides - no fatigue and my focus clearly on keeping the boat and its sailors safe. I always feel a little shaky when I first get out but always give big thanks for each mission completed. this time though, I don't get out of the boat when gregg turner of the angry samoans meets the boat right outside the clube we're playing tonight, the paramount. wow, I haven't seen him in a while - he moved here about ten years ago and teaches math at highlands university. he's friends w/mega-wordmeister richard meltzer too (he had a band in the 70s w/him called vom) and says he's even getting creative w/email after saying 'puters were too tough for a "mammal such as him." alright, richard! so sad I missed him in portland where he lives but I'm going to try and see him again next time through there. richard meltzer has taught me much every time I'm w/him - he's like raymond pettibon for me in that way. I love him. I ask gregg if what I heard this morning is true, is the war gonna be over? he says he doesn't know what's up but there's something he's heard that's weird - the reason there's no weapons of mass destruction being found is cuz they've been moved to syria so maybe they'll be war next too. oh boy. I have to my mind away from these thoughts but I do mention I seen haliburton ( cheney's old company but where he currently holds stock) stuff in wyoming yesterday and he said rumsfeld has property in taos here in new mexico. when I think of taos, I think of the world's largest solar-powered radio station. just like when I think of wyoming, I think of my ma as a little girl. now there's other things to think about, huh? keep it together, watt... gregg is kind enough to give me two cds of his latest band, the blood drained cows. thank you much, gregg.
the cat at the club here is geronimo, who's got a great vibe. he tells me he had to be called jerry when he was in school cuz the teachers said his name would be too hard to deal w/and I'm thinking, "what?" I remember being told in high school that "the divine comedy" was not a book someone my age should be reading. that's right - high school. holy cow. the soundman is alex and both these folks treat us really good. last year I played the other room which has be changed to karaoke thing so this time we're in the disco. oh well, you work the room - right? the soundcheck confirms the sound will be a din but we'll do our best. the kitchen here makes me a small greek salad and protabello mushroom sandwich. too much cheese the but the salad's really good. I say hi to the young cats who are opening up - they're called something (I can't remember this part, sorry) and the cutt-outs. nice guys. I go to the boat to chimp diary and konk out after my thoughts on yesterday are entered. damn, I wish I could convey these tour voyage experiences better! I always feel they're lacking and missing the guts and spirit that make it so vital to me, make it a mission. aaaaarrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh...
pete rousts me when the bell tolls for us - I missed the opening act, so sorry to disappoint them. I get the sling sack and my little bass and come into the pad to see nicole and laura. so great to see nicole, she said in an email she might come from albuquerque (her town). it's kind of a weird scene in the disco - everyone almost is by the bar so it's righteous nicole and laura come out front. we start the gig but I realize quick that this kind of situation can easily intimidate me and I'll feel scared shitlless out of my mind - that would be lame. I can already feel it happening, my eyes are closing and I'm getting those shrinking sensations so I tell myself to buckle up and be a hard charger - no shirking. that's when I see our friends from 'burque and I get my nerve up. it's after the new tunes so when we do "...cow," I go to the port side of the stage (which is closest to the bar) and start looking folks right in the eye. not mean but in a way to try and say it's ok to get a little loose. I try to tell my drummer jer the same thing but he's having problems for different reasons - he's got gas up the ying-yang and is augering farts into his throne (after the gig he'll tell me it's from this road chow he had called a "hot pocket"). there's a mic stand in my way, making it hard to get close on jer so I move it. I can't move the one that's blocking pete from me, damn - seems like he's on another planet and I hate that. the monitors are super-toy and there's barely anything coming out of them. alex comes up and tries his best but it's hopeless on that level. whatever, we plow on - can't let machine shit totally put a damper in your pamper, right? I break a string - the first one for the tour (it's a 'd' one) and change it while giving my first spiel of the night. I don't know if my words are all that coherent but I am definitely laughing a bunch. jer loosens up and the band is cooking. hey, it took half the set or so to get going but like orson wells said, "no wine before its time." one song to go and I give a thank you spiel and some cat tells me to play another song, "no talking." c'mon, guy - this is only the second spiel and the other one was while I was re-stringing the little bass. some cats tell me to keep talking. I tell that guy the quality of his heckling was poor in between laughs (just joking). the b.o.c. tune and we're done - the folks are very loud to have us back. thank you so much. many thank yous for all of them, gregg turner gets props (didn't mean to embarrass you!) as do those responsible for helping me get some backbone not to cower out and let down everyone. the person(s) on the stage are not the only ones responsible for a gig coming out good - in a way, it's like a weird kind of marriage for the duration. nice talks w/folks - a couple people are from pedro! I settle w/geronimo and he invites me to come back and do some ceremonies and hot spring baths w/indian brothers and families. very, very kind of him.
laura's boyfriend anthony has set something up for us to konk at and they seem like nice people but I think it'd be better to follow them to nicole's in 'burque. her pad is a known and there's a nice spirit there so we follow them in her truck the fifty miles it takes. we went on stage at ten so it's not too late - I really hate driving after gigs but this is ok. there's a long and firm couch that's righteous for me in the living room and I get in the minus twenty bag but anthony wants to talk so I try and answer his questions like what's the real meaning of "double nickels on the dime" (he had a much different idea) and why is it I don't get credit for having invented music people wearing flannel (I tell him john fogerty should get credit for that - not me - I got it from him). not much energy for q and a so I kind of manhandle the conversation into something I can have a say about and it on my mind - the state of my mind during tonight's gig: the fears and the need to work the hard charger thing. in a way, people don't want to hear this, they want to believe some folks have all the nerve in the world. I try to get this through to anthony and laura but I can see in nicole's eyes that she understands... she's got two daughters and probably has to explain sort of the same kinds of things to them. the mask for my eyes now which let's me and everyone else know konk is on the way quick.
friday, april 11 - amarillo, tx
popped again to the sound of the guinea pigs purring away and sucking on the water bottle (I could hear the clank clank of the little steel ball all nite ), but it was a mysteriously soothing sound and actually helped me go to sleep as well as wake up ( I guess it's a familiarity thing). I could hear the chief clomp clomping around the house (lil the kill claims I do the same thing in the morning); jer was still asleep so I decided to go hit the shower while I still had the chance. I felt much better after the soak and went to go check the kitchen for any signs of life; watt was doing his customary puter' work and Laura had awaken and offered to make us some coffee and toast (anthony and laura had already left for work). I still wasn't fully awake so I doused the caffeine jones and had some dry toast. The coffee maker had overflowed on laura the first time so she had to do a reprise (which turned out famously)- we downed the coffee and munched down the toast, loaded up the bags in the boat, threw laura in the front seat( we were giving her a lift to her pad ), and we were off. we stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and dropped laura off- said our goodbyes and went towards our next merry destination.
I slept a good part of the way and then flipped w/ jer; I was still feeling a little groggy but much better. we pulled up in front of the place (a pad called Brewster's) around four? and went in to scope the joint out. very college boy, baseball hat turned backwards kind of a pad ( exactly what we didn't want to do) , but why not give it the benefit of the doubt?. jer goes in - no sign of us on the marquee, no mention in the local rag ( is the gig going down?), no boss man that has any kind of info- watt calls steve kaul up to confirm shit and sure enough we are doing the gig ; watt also rings the boss of the pad and he assures us that he's been promoting it on his radio show (rock 108, a local station- these cats also own the club). we go in to check shit out and one of the bands is doing a check; it's "slow roosevelt" and they're on after us- real hardcore anthrax type of shit (what was the cat thinking when he booked us?) and I'm already mulling over the ramifications of this gig ( not a good vibe from the get go). the stage is about a good 15-20 ft. up off the floor and there's a whole bunch of stairs involved to get to the backstage area ( not happy news to a band w/ a B3 player), but then again let's see how it all goes down. I set up the ti book to do some chimping while we wait and have a few cocktails as I am getting increasingly nervous about this gig ( especially after the new mexico thing). one of the waitresses, monica- raps w/ me and I feel better about the whole sitch but I still have my doubts. The boss of the pad, eric, shows up and I rap w/ him for a little while; he seems totally into our playing there and brings us some real kind chow to boot, so I'm feeling a little more comfy about the whole scene. I chimp and chow and then me and jer go do the load in. There's a bunch of real burly cats to help us , but their strength does come into question when it's time to carry the B3 up the stairs (two flights) and I could see that few of them had attempted this endeavor before ( they did soldier it thru- much respect). due to some bullshit sound ordinance we were'nt going to get a soundcheck, but we took this in stride and went w/ it (the first band did a fucking 40 min. check'- but to each his own).
Me and jer went up backstage to chill for a while and the first band, "thick" showed up. we rapped w/ them for awhile (nice cats) and then they hit the stage; cool material (texas schwag rock they called it ) , me and jer listened while trying to get a little conk in- they weren't the typical metal kludge and sounded cool ( my nervousness about us being a "metal sandwich" evaporated ever so slightly). thick finished their set and broke down their tools- me and jer set up all our gear and then jer went to wake up the chief. he ambled up , plugged in and we started the set ( watt decided to leave out the new stuff and shuffle up the remaining tunes). well fuck, it was like three guys coming out of a wedding cake- I was butted up right against the side of the stage and I was already having visions of me flying off and hitting concrete during an intense keyboard gliss. the second song was "the red and the black" and we started hitting the warm spot during the tune; we had at least gotten the audience to pay a little attention and I heard a few whoops after we had finished (wait for paramedics-end of tour). The rest of the set was a nightmare as the monitors were virtually non-existant and I was pretty much playing by smell ( my vocals sounded like I was singing thru a fucking dixie cup)- we soldiered it thru tho' and finished up w/ "sister ray". I was glad that the shit was over and wanted to get out of dodge ASAP. I rapped w/ some musician cats after the show (evidently there was about 30 -40 of them up front listening to us) and they assured me that our set was killer (it's a great feeling to be admired by your peers). we were staying at the pad of the cats in the first band- and we followed them over to their prac pad first and rapped w/ them for awhile (very nice people) and then headed out to their crash pad. we rapped once again for awhile but we were all feeling beat so we turned in. me and watt rapped about the gig (evidently there were some amarillo hombres present), and watt was relieved that we didn't get busted during the "sucking on the ding-dong" part of "sister ray" (they had arrested some other band at another show for questionable language), as this would of been a major bogart on the tour. eventually I felt the heaviness on the eyelids creep up and I drifted off ..... I was glad that we had at least blown a few minds at the gig. buona notte musicanti....
pop and find nicole leaving for work. bye and thank you much for everything. I hose off in the shower while laura makes us coff. she's gonna ride w/us to get to her pad which is on the east side of 'burque and in the direction we're heading. we get on I-40 and a few miles down the road get gas at the same time she has to bail. thank you too, laura. she said it was a trip riding w/us last tour and hearing how a band relates to both each other and the world on a journey such as we're on. that's interesting. I don't think much about how what we do might appear to those not along for the haul, it must seem a little strange, huh? you get so wrapped up in the rhythm of what needs to get done each day and night that it's hard to see what others see/hear/experience. for them too - unless they're riding right there along w/us, all they really can do is guess. it's one reason I chimp these diaries but even that can't be complete enough to give one the total sense of what it's like. also, it ends up sifted through my mind which might jive w/what they might see themselves. anyway, it's nice to hear that it's "interesting" and not insane or fucking ridiculous. thank you, laura.
back on I-40 and east towards texas. the weather is again righteous, low seventies and 'pert-near much clear skies. there's a headwind - it's almost dead-on in front of us but the boat handles the challenge and that has me giving her under-the-breath thank yous much. so much of a center of a tour's universe is how I think of the boat, she is the crux of our voyage and I value her and her health much. her motor is a little tired - the other day the odometer was all twos which means 222,222.2 miles, whoa. much blessings for the boat. pete and jer have settled into this pattern of each of them spending half up front w/me in the passenger seat and half in the back, konked. sometimes there's konking in the passenger seat two and it's watt driving two precious konked band members. that's ok cuz I know if they're rested good, they'll play their best so I don't mind. I've learned to get by w/out someone having to constantly entertain me. we don't play any music so the sound of the wind on boat plus her tires on the road and her engine running are much of the ride's soundtrack. this gives me lots of time to think and sometimes I do get a little heavy on the introspective stuff. this sometimes happens big time after the gig when I'm laid out waiting to konk but w/all the hellrides this tour has brought us so far, I've be relieved of that cuz of passing out 'pert-near immediately after lowering the mask so that kind of stuff now happens while I'm at the wheel and my guys snooze. these feelings, though sometimes pretty heavy, don't overwhelm me cuz I make sure my focus is on the road and keeping us safe. no margin for spaceouts w/the wheel in my hand - I've got two poppas w/me.
the view outside the boat's windows is beautiful. the clay is rich red and then sometimes the rocks have this green tint on them. the yellow grasses and righteous boulder formations make for great eyegifts. we roll through santa rosa (where richard "fuckin'" bonney's people are from - I think of him) and then this tiny town called cuervo and 'pert-near all the buildings are abandoned and crumbling, their red adobe walls in pieces. you try to think of how things might've been for this place and then how did things get to this... it would be so great if some kind of information spiel could be broadcasted from interesting places that told about them - I'd put the radio on if it could tune to that kind of stuff. otherwise, we have to just guess and say a prayer for any ghosts that might still be left. a town that's still alive is called tucumcari (love that sign, "tucumcari tonight") and we roll through it. there's a trippy billboard up on the side of the road. it reads "join the team" and it has all these prison guards dressed in riot gear, the whole nine yards - batons and everything. boy, that's weird. we cross the border into texas and after a bit, another time zone - we're two hours earlier now than back home in pedro. the landscape changes up much, the mesas are replaced w/broad, flat planes of land and the trees almost totally disappear. like most this ride, there's lots of construction - they're doing what they have to do to all the freeways - repave/rebuild them cuz of them getting tore up, mainly from the thunk of heavyass truck wheels. every tour brings new stretches of smoothness and new stretches of narrowing down to one lane and slowing to fortyfive or whatever where the work's getting done. we get gas again and the highest grade unleaded (what the boat uses so her motor won't ping) is now only a buck sixtysomething a gallon rather than the $2.30 we were paying in cali or close to two bucks in the northwest. we get into amarillo at about 4:30 after about six hours.
I've only played amarillo twice. the first time was w/the minutemen almost twenty years ago. that was a trippy gig - I can't remember the pad's name but I remember the boss, a lady named pira. the p.a. was so toy, d. boon had to sing through my bass amp. it was still fun though. the other time was a few summers ago for a memorial to this young man named brian deneke, who was killed in a confrontation between jocks and punks. it was out in this place outside of amarillo called the peace farm which was across the road from some weapons plant called pantex or something. a bunch of bands played and I felt very good about doing it - I met this young man brain's parents and felt very sad for them, to lose their son like that. a really trippy thing happened when we did our gig, we were the last to play and dark was coming on. I've never did a gig like this - no lights but the stars were so incredibly bright and amarillo is very flat so there were no hills or trees to reduce the size of the sky a bit - it was like this incredible canopy or blanket of dark and stars over and around everything. where we were facing was a train track and when we did "big train," can you imagine what happened? yep, a train came right down the tracks from out of nowhere. it was kind of a mindblow. maybe that young cat sent it - that's what a dear friend told me when I got back to pedro and reminisced about it. it was quite a surreal and singular experience for me.
anyway, back to now - I park the boat outside what looks like a sprots bar. it's called brewster's and it's where we're playing tonight. no watt on the marquee though - what's this? I make a call to the man outside the van, booker steve kaul and he conferences us both in to lane arnold (love that name, like the syd barrett song in reverse) who tells us the gig is on - in fact I've been paid for it in full in advance - but there's some screw up somewhere, he's in dallas and wasn't able to control what went down in the venue. he has me talk to eric, the cat at the local "modern rock" radio station (eric says it a cumulous station, "the stepchild of the devil" kind of thing). he's a super nice cat and apologizes much. I tell him I understand, no problem - I just want to know when we go on. he says it's a three band bill and we're on in the middle for fortyfive minutes. that's ok w/me, a little change-up w/what we're mostly doing this tour but maybe it's good to break out of the mold a bit. I'm gonna write up a different setlist that'll both accommodate the shorter time for our gig and put the tunes in a different order. I take a walk around the neighborhood. it looks like an old downtown area that got rundown after probably mall stuff drove everything from it and is now making gentrified comeback. there's horse sculptures on bunches of the corners, each painted up different. I've seen this in other towns too w/cows and pigs and whatever - maybe a trend? I get a small sandwich that has a little bit of salami and a whole bunch of lettuce, onions and mustard. I go to the boat and chimp diary - there's no soundcheck - after a bit, eric comes down and brings me a salad and a cup of soup. that's kind of him. I konk after chowing that.
I'm woken up not by pete or jer but by these motorcycles that keeping going up and down the streets w/their real loud roar. I mean really loud to wake watt out of his konk. I look out from behind the de-scrolled curtain and see these brain surgeons going down the sidewalks w/their harelys - they 'pert-near run some ladies over (great way to impress, guys!). like colorado, there's no helmet laws here so you can see the clearly however they pretty much are as generic as the typical wannabe biker typically looks like (as opposed to real bikers, which my town has lots of). this is more like what happens in hollywood w/the badge-buff mode in full effect. us humans are funny creatures. let me explain this gig a little bit before it even happens. we're playing about thirty feet in the air, on top of the bar's freezer. there's pool tables and pitchers and everything sports/frat bar-like that you'd find anywhere else in the country. I have a talk w/myself about this. it's easy to look down on this kind of scene and dismiss everyone as total squarejohns - I guess I've already kind of did that w/the bikers but I confront myself on this. this is not the kind of growth I want to see in watt as he gets down the road. this is the kind of 'tude an insecure person who's maybe felt pretty much an outsider and wants to try and get back somehow. people are people and are where they're at cuz maybe that's all they know at the time. if you're not getting abuse or being threatened, is it really kosher to get on the superiority kick? is that proper? I think not and though this gig looks like it could be a nightmare why should I try and overcompensate for my insecurities but trying to convince myself I'm better than any of these folks just cuz I've ridden in the boat for a number of journeys, have worked the bass and have done spiels? I don't think that qualifies for such arrogance - in fact, what does qualify for such arrogance? I mean I'm asking myself in order to be really fair about this issue, not to go through some bullshit kind of motions but to confront watt on some of his core beliefs. what I can and still feel good about myself is play good w/my guys and deliver whatever I got the best way we can and let these cats think of themselves how we might stand in their minds. if I want to get a little uppity then let me laugh at myself a little if that'll help. it might be ok laugh at the situation a little even but I should give these folks and break and not just pre-judge them out of hand. this is what I think.
we do our gig. damn, is the sound bad up here in the rafters but no matter, I bind close w/my guys and try to focus what we got the best we can. it is a trippy set order and cuz of the shorter time, I scissor the illness stuff. I can tell both pete and jer have zilch for monitors (even w/the organ) and are doing total mime but they charge hard and make me proud. I only give two little spiels and that's mainly to thank them. we don't get an encore but we don't get booed either. and that's after a really go-ff version of "sister ray" too. one older gentlemen, even older than me, way down there below us tells me thanks and gives me the thumbs up. we come off of that "throne" of a stage, lots of young cats come up and talk w/me, lots of handshakes to go around. I go out to the boat to change my flannel (I wore the blue one I got in a nyc thrift shop cuz it was our first texas gig) and the boss eric and some cats from a new mexico band called tao rap w/me for a while about music stuff. they're all nice cats. I didn't see the first band who were called thick but their singer, skitz, has me sign some pictures and so I ask hiim if he's got space for thee cats to konk and a safe place for the boat. he invites first to their practice pad and there's folks there for a little get together thing and we talk a bit and then we go to the pad he shares w/some other people, all very kind. ryan's one of them and he makes me a turkey sandwich - I usually never chow after gigs but chow this and it's good. a hit of mota and I'm nearly done but w/the lights off and all us - me, pete and jer in our bags - we talk a little about this strange gig tonight. we agree it was a success of some important levels. I for one am so glad I didn't get a chip on my shoulder and started shovelling out the 'tude. love is not a possessive thing, it must be given out freely if it's real. you try to shit-hoard it and it's like robbing posies and pansies of the sun they use to have fun w/their faces. I sweated my flannel much and not just cuz the weather's getting warmer (I konked w/out a blankie before the gig) either. I may not be that connected w/people in the usual ways. music is a strange connecting device I'm still trying to explore. for people to know me through music is still kind of a trip so I must careful w/that gift. the grace they afford me to hear me out. that is a precious thing that shouldn't be taken for granted. it is a weird night for me to think this way about things but somehow, I think it's important. somehow, I don't know - I kind of am in a strange state of mind. I do hope it's one where I'm learning though. maybe these freakouts are helping me break down molds I've let some of my thinking solidify into. maybe I have be weak to learn new ways to be strong. I must let go of this debate and let konk win me over. ok, it's done.
saturday, april 12 - dallas, tx
popped at the "thick" pad and rolled up the bag, splashed some cold water on my face and we were off- we had a major hellride to dallas and we had laundry to do so we had to get a move on. much respect to all the "thick" cats for the crash pad and good vibes. I was still tired so I slept a good part of the way- we stopped at a way' (subway) to get some chow as we probably wouldn't eat for awhile; I ate half of my sandwich and promptly fell asleep again.
jer woke me up and he wanted to flip, so I moved into the navigator's chair and pulled out the ti book to plot the trip into dallas; mike told me it was in an area called "deep ellum" and it made me immediately think of the grateful dead tune "deep ellum blues". after losing our bearings a few times (I still haven't got the map thing down), we pulled up to the address given to us by the agency but it looked like the wrong place (it was evidently the offices of the club)- mike knew kinda-sorta where the club was so we continued on farther until we found the right place (a pad called the clearview). The entire deep ellum area had been built up in the mid -eighties and was a now a kind of faux-melrose area (even worse); club upon club upon restaurant- a real clusterfuck. The clearview was not open yet so I kicked it in the boat while mike did a phone interview and jerry went to go look for a laundromat; I tried to conk but the pad across the street had a huge rooftop patio w/ speakers blasting 80's music into the street (and nobody is in the pad so I guess it was for ambience); irritation w/ extreme prejudice to say the least. gratefully, mike returned from the phone spiel after which jer came back and informed us that the laundromat was over a mile away so hoofing it was out of the question. we piled into the boat and made the drive to the pad (it was called mysteriously "the bar of soap"), pulled our stink bags out and did the laundry ritual. The place was actually a laundromat cum bar/club and the price was right (a buck a wash- a buck a dry), and we could have a few beers while we were waiting. I chimped some diary and rapped w/ the bartender for awhile while my clothes were drying - jer had gotten a bad machine and his clothes remained quite damp; he was pissed to say the least because we had to head back to the club for soundcheck and he wouldn't have time to re-dry. we headed back to the club and we were met by an old friend of watt's (jon lambert- who's pad we were also crashing at), he helped us unload the gear and we set the stuff up on stage- chad the soundman arrived, miked up the gear and we did the check'- the room sounded real bright but we figured it would be cool once the place filled up w/ bodies. Jer was hungry so we went hoofing in search of some chow; we found a little pad called Pete's! so of course we had to stop and it was a good pick- the chow was very kind and the price was right .
after our wonderful meal we hoofed it back to the club and I found myself an isolated corner where I could chimp in peace- I ordered up a bushmills neat, lit up a choke and dove into the diary.....
jer found me after I was done w/ the chimp and we went to go check out the other bands. there were three before us (darryl, tendril, and slowride), but we only caught a little of the last band and the disco shit going on above us was wearing me out(the clearview is actually three separate clubs-w/ dance music blaring in each) I went to the boat to conk in the back for awhile and jer woke me and watt up when their set was done. we moved the gear in place on stage and launched into the set- the crowd was very into it and we soldiered thru w/ no major clams. mike slung the merch from the stage while me and jer did the breakdown; many people came up and said some really nice things- I was happy about the show (and exhausted). we piled the stuff into the boat and headed on over to jon's pad; it was murder getting out of the deep ellum area as all the clubs were getting out and it was a mass of borracho cruisers all trying to get home at the same time (major bum rush). we made it to jon's pad w/o incident and laid out the bags- we rapped for awhile but I was feeling the exhaustion creep up so I climbed into the bag and conked very solidly..... laku noc sviraci.
pop at around seven like usual and then hose off in the shower here - whoa, a big one - almost as big as the entire head at my pad in pedro! no phone line here cuz they use walkie-talkie ones (cell) so no way to check email, not that I've been able to really do much there w/all the hellrides so far on the tour. I must have a backlog of like a thousand emails. don't know what the answering machine at my pad is like either cuz just no chance to fucking call it. that's the nature of the way's this tour's been routed. I've driven 'pert-near thirtyfive hundred miles already and the eleventh gig is tonight. whoa. I really wanted pete to play in the northwest though and if I would've done my usual "counter-clockwise for the spring" (starting in the southwest, then the south, then the east coast, then the midewest, the plains and finally the northwest), he wouldn't have been able to do those gigs cuz his work will only let him do the first six weeks of this eight week tour. so this is the way it goes. like the chorus in that tune "the read and the black" goes: "it's all right." we'll just keep persevering. there's much more difficult things this world can throw at you anyway.
we say bye to our hosts, wish them luck and are on our way. a little east on the I-40, past "the big texan," which is this chow pad I've passed on this freeway for years that offers a free seventytwo ounce steak to anyone who can eat it and everything else on the plate they serve in one hour. d. boon tried it once and couldn't do it. what a gut-buster anyway cuz the cut of meat the give you is total chew-toy. us-287 is our next move and we're gonna take that right into fort worth. this is what you call an "orange road" in the rand-macnally road atlas, a four lane divided highway. it's as fast a freeway except for when you come on towns cuz then you usually have to slow down to around thrityfive. some of these towns are indeed little, like populations of a couple of hundred and such, towns like goodnight, hedley, giles, goodlett, acme, chillicothe and tolbert plus ones that are a little bigger like claude, clarendon, memphis (the texas one), childress (home of eight time world rodeo champ ray cooper) and vernon. finally there's wichita falls where the "orange road" becomes a "blue" one, like a freeway and it's pass bowie and into fort worth. the scenery this whole way is pretty flat - not a lot of trees but all still pretty in it's own way. lots of sky to say the least but not too hot - we're mainly in the 70s and there's little humidity which suits me fine. that stuff (humidity) slaughters me, whew. wish I was stronger against it but in pedro, it's hardly ever there to oppress you the way it does when I get east of the rockies (north or south don't mean much - it's all really intense) as summer nears. at fort worth, the traffic starts to thicken up - a sure cure for homesickness. I hate plugged-up traffic, it's very irritating. we take some of the outer loops to get into the sister city, dallas and pete's getting better w/the map software on his tibook. there's some barking from the impatient idiot man (yours truly) but pete bears down and gets us to where we gotta go. however, someone on the booking end got the address fucked up so we end up where there's nothing. I've played where we're playing tonight, club clearview, before though so from memory I get us over there. I will make a point of calling the man outside the van, steve kaul and giving him the correct address so future hellriders are spared this clam. about a six hour drive, one shorter than I predicted - alright.
like I said, I played here some years ago - maybe ten or more in the fIREHOSE days. it's changed lots and is actually much better than then. I remember during that fIREHOSE gig when we were on stage playing and someone broke the boat's passenger window and took georgie's backpack from under the seat there, stealing some mics he had just bought to mount inside of his drums. damn. one funny thing though is that we found a bag of mota on the ground outside the door - karma seemed to be at work. anyway, we'll park in the lot tonight, outside the front door. our laundry has pretty well piled up after 'pert-near two weeks so a wash is in order. there's a pad called bar of soap about a mile away, we're told. we drive on over and start our first wash of the tour. they have gigs at this pad and there's a bar too. my guys visit there while I chimp in the boat - still no drinking for watt. me and pete's stuff gets done ok but the machine jer used is bunk so all his stuff is wet, damn. sorry, jer. I hate when that shit happens - I've used coin-operated laundry my whole adult life. one good thing (among lots others) about levis and flannels is who needs to fold them? I just pile them behind the boat's backseat bench when they dry. there's nothing like clean cotton flannel and denim, nothing - love it. we go back to the venue and I do a spiel for a charleston, sc paper. after that I go to some pad a block away called cafe brasil and get something to eat cuz I can't really chow that close to gig time or I'll play lame. I get some tomato basil soup and a big spinich salad. there's latin cats for cooks and they really lay on the spinich. all the greens are righteous for watt. I rejoin my guys at the club and we do a short soundcheck w/soundman chad. whoa, are the cymbals loud here! chad's just come on to this gig and there's things he's gotta work out but that's gonna take time. I tell him we'll do the best we can do cuz one life is hopefully made of many gigs and why get the panties bunched up over one "challenging" one? oh oh, sounds like one or maybe another driver is a little rattled in my rig - whoops, better go a little easy maybe. it's that crazy shit in "sister ray," I know cuz it's my own fault - I just want to go off in that one. careful, watt - let's try to make it last the tour. damn, am I abusive.
out to the boat and this cat stops me to take a picture holding a flamingo. it's for a book of all kinds of cats holding the flamingo and the man doing it is publishing it to raise monies for breast cancer, which his ma died from. I didn't shave this morning so I'm thinking I should show some respect and do that for him before taking the shots. since we're gonna take them right in front of the boat, I go under the driver's seat where I keep my razors and shaving cream and shave myself right there in the dark. of course, w/no mirrors and kind of doing it by braille, I miss lots of patches but fuck it, it's dark anyway and I look a little more together than I did before. we take the shots and then he tells me about what he knows about the war after I tell him I don't know much, being kind of sealed in a tour bubble. he says there's looting cuz the saddam hussien people are all out of power and maybe saddam hussien himself is dead from big bombs being dropped on a residential area that someone tipped-off he was in an underground bunker. so maybe the wars over but there's still lots of hurting for the iraqi people there. he says the war's not going to spread but it's unknown how the kurd thing is going to work out in the north of the country. it's hard for me to put together a picture in my head from just some spiel from one cat but what I'm hoping is that things can get into healing mode quick. maybe that's wishful thinking, I don't know. what I can do is send out hopes and work my little bass the best I can w/my guys. I have to say you don't see a lot of outward signs that a war is going on. some flags and even a few yellow ribbons sometimes - slogans telling you to support soldiers too but not a massive show. maybe it's all over the tv so much, people don't find a need to carry it further. if you're not plugged into tv world - like us three on tour, than you hardly know this is going down. it is trippy about that. what would d. boon think? I wish I could talk to him about all this stuff. I feel no confidence about how to handle any of this. I know people like ben franklin and tom jefferson wanted citizens to keep their eye on government but I feel almost like a martian.
I konk in the boat w/my flannel, socks and shoes off. it's that kind of weather. this is what the call the deep ellum part of dallas (east part of downtown) and it's got a kind of wannabe-hollywood sort of thing - a texas version of melrose avenue somewhat but w/all these clubs and bars. it's a weekend night and there's much much noise outside the boat. there's disco music coming from half a dozen pads reaching me here in the boat's hold but I konk anyway cuz watt gets tired doing all the driving and wants to be strong (or as strong as he can be) for the gig. there's three bands before us, tendril, slowride and darryl but I miss them all cuz of being in sleepytown. jer gets me and we're ready to start the gig at 12:30, whoa - maybe our latest gig of the tour? the dallas cats are good to play for there and they give back a good spirit. the monitors are horrible and me and pete are almost totally miming it. no matter, we plow on - doing the set we've been doing all tour except for last night in amarillo. my guys play good and we focus well on the gig at hand. I'm kind of self-conscious and close my eyes much but am not so scared as to choke and clam like a motherfucker. for that, I'm grateful. we get an encore and this lady up front obviously has never seen me before and is asking a lot of questions of me, loudly. she wants to know my zodiac sign (!) so I make like an archer (sagittarius). she keeps saying I have talent, this and that and I say to her (and for everyone else to hear) that I'm just like anyone else, giving it a go and hopefully things can be loose enough - or get even loose so as more and more people will take chances w/experimenting w/expressing themselves in the arts - painting, writing, bass wrestling - whatever... that's one of my main goals in this endeavor stuff. I hope she got what I was trying to say cuz you never know - things are skewed weird when someone's on stage trying to talk some ideas. you gotta keep it short and concise, I know that. if I spiel in the drawn-out way I sometimes fall into one-on-one w/someone, that can be a recipe for a total fuckup. we finish up w/"little doll" which me and jer are still having trouble coming into together w/and I'm thinking, "what's this about." it happened w/me and scotty in france too. it might be me clamming the shit up. oh oh, better get that together before the coachella thing - I wonder if iggy wants to do that one?
we finish up and I sling and rap w/the folks. there's some very nice people - very nice and they tell me kind things. one young man has me sign his bass, a five string one. another man tells me he works the bass too and I'm gonna have to remember him. he's a tall black man, really dark like my friend jovi and his hand feels good in mine, l can feel the bass right through him - it's a trip. I lots of times get bass people talking thuds and bottom w/me - girl ones too and I dig this much cuz in the old days (when I was younger), it seemed no one wanted to work bass. it means much to me to elevate this form of expression and I mean by elevate, I mean to "uplift people" - that is, make it ok for folks to feel free to redefine what they want to get done w/their means - you know, make that bass aid and abet, laugh and cry. I think this is a good thing.
my old friend john's here and has invited us to konk at his pad in north dallas. damn, is it late - almost three when we get to his pad and we talk some, have a little mota. I lay out in my bag next to pete on the deck. I don't konk right away cuz of thoughts running through my head. I read an email and like 'pert-near all the emails I get like this, it teaches me much, learns me like lessons - trippy ones though, not like school but like a voice speaking straight to my heart and then my brain, finally settling about in my spirit. it carries my mind around in swirls where I look outward, then inward, then reflecting on the reflections resonating like pond ripples. I can feel a current along my spine and lighting my eyeballs under the mask. I feel my eyelids wide open and eyeballs staring out but dark holds back the sparks and firefly cinders flying from them. there's twitching around from me, my body unsteady. I don't know how I konked in this state but eventually, I do.
sunday, april 13 - austin, tx
popped at jon's pad to the sound of the chief doing his puter' work and jer re-washing and re-drying his damp clothes- I hopped in the shower and did a much needed scrub down; the weather was getting more and more humid in each town and every gig was a schvitz on stage (I couldn't wait till we hit florida). I came out feeling a little better but still groggy from the night before (that bushmills can be a motherfucker if you let it) - Jon was cooking us up a carload of chow (eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits- the cornerstone to every good heart attack) , and despite the caloric content we strapped on the feedbag and dug in. Jon's wife sandy came to join the feast and for a moment I was taken aback; she was an absolute dead ringer for lil the kill's mom vera (a woman that I totally adore), and that said, she looked alot like lil too. I listened to her talk w/ mike and damned if she didn't have the same mannerisms too! ; It made me feel home sick and I really wanted to talk to lil and my babies (vera and my mom too). I tried not to stare but it was a real mind blow and I hope I didn't make sandy feel uncomfortable (it's funny how little things like that can set your mind off), but after I ate I went to go call my mom and lil but unfortunately neither one answered so I left a message.
I ate way too much and I was feeling sleepy so I was determined to claim the bench seat for at least part of the ride; I know it must sound like we sleep a helluva lot but the bones aren't as young as they used to be and playing these gigs is the equivalent to getting the shit beat out of you on a nightly basis- stir in a little alcohol and you can appreciate what I mean. So, sleep and a lot of water intake are paramount or you stand a chance of getting sick and believe me- that is not a viable option. we gathered up our stuff and said our goodbyes-snapped a pic of jon too, and we were off. much respect to jon and sandy for letting us crash and feeding us- they have a righteous pad too.....
As mentioned before I managed to snag the bench seat and spent a good part of the trip conking while jer was busy taking snaps of me while I slept in various poses (on my stomach, gut hanging out, etc.)- drumbo now has a world of time on his hands that he's not doing diary so I have become yet another pawn in his frivolous games (fortunately i have the diary and jer does fall asleep on the bench also). I awoke from my blissful slumber just as we were pulling into austin and jer was navigating us in w/ the ti book (watt downloaded a delorme street atlas onto it for me), and in no time at all we pulled up in front of the pad (stubb's bbq); I had heard of this pad (even tried the barbecue sauce); it was legendary among musicians in the austin area and I was very excited about playing here and sampling the q'. we had a while before soundcheck so we decided to sample the chow- I had the pork loin and chix and it was everything I'd hoped; real smoky w/ an intense q' flavor and the cole slaw and black-eyed peas were really kind too. after the feast we did the load in and by then the soundman, dave had arrived and he miked all the gear up. we did "the red and the black" and the sound was killer! great sounding p.a. and room and I was looking forward to the gig- spot was supposed to show up (we were staying at his pad) and I was looking forward to seeing him once again (real nice cat that spot-I've missed him since last tour). a local band- "spacetruck" was opening up for us. we struck the gear and I headed over to the band room to chimp some diary. stubb's is spread out really cool- it's actually like a compound; a series of stone buildings surrounding a courtyard w/ a huge outdoor stage at one end (they have outside shows when the weather is nice), while the indoor club is actually underneath the restaurant- it faces the stage by means of a balcony and the whole pad is like being in someone's beautifully rustic stone home. I sequestered myself in a corner of the band room w/ a few bottles of water and my ti book and started the chimp... I love the vibe of this place.
I finished up the diary and me and jer went upstairs to indulge in a few libations and soak up the uh, local color. After we had soaked up a rainbow's worth of color the first band started and I opted to go back to the band room for a litle pre-gig conk. I fell in and out of sleep while the band played and caught some of their sound- poppy, college rock w/ the vocals reminding me of robert smith. I heard them launch into their last tune and this was the signal for me to get up and shake the grog off. I went outside and heard strains of "A love supreme" over the p.a. and heard some cat yell out "borrrring"; I feel very sorry for this unfortunate soul- he's written off some cool music. I spied spot and jer rapping and gave spot a big hug; I was glad to see him and he informed me that they had awakened watt from hibernation ( it was a special guest star wakeup). Spacetruck broke down their gear and me and jer moved our stuff into place and waited for the boss to show up; he strode in w/ merch bag in hand and we hit the stage (we got a round of applause before we even started- a good sign). we launched into the set w/ aggressive enthusiasm and the crowd really dug on it- we have become a really tight unit in the past couple of weeks and even the new stuff was slowly coming into it's own. watt put spot in charge of taking some gig snaps and I could see him traipsing around the room happily snapping our moves. we finished up the set and went in the band room for the customary gig lowdown- we all agreed that this had been a good one; we could hear the crowd yelling for more so we hit the stage again and did the encore- again the crowd was w/ us and we garnered much applause. me and jer hit the band room while watt slung the merch' and we signed several posters for the fans- The crowds have been relatively younger this time around and it was neat to see that many kids have open minds and aren't always eating the MTV sludge thrust upon them (for some of them it was their first watt show). a lady who writes for the local music rag (wendy)gave me and jer some impromptu interviews but was a little borracho so I'm not sure if the answers sunk in at the moment (but she did record it on a little dictating machine). We broke down the gear and loaded up the stuff in the boat and followed spot back to his pad; we rolled out our bags on the deck but we were still steeped in adrenalin from the gig so we sat around looking at tour snaps and doing email and razzing each other. Spot pulled out a bottle of bushmills, so of course me, him and jer laid into it (really laid into it- drained the fucker). All good things must come to an end and I could feel the sandman stumbling up the stairs so I slid into the bag and conked very happily on that deck. twist it off and let it fly.......PS- much respect to dave the soundman; you were a real powerful tranny for our engine...fish on!
pop and hose off around eight. whoa, that was a trippy way on to sleepytown last night. it still is reverberating through me. there are things people can say or write at times that have an affect on me. then there are those very few who's almost every word becomes very powerful in my life, propelling me into directions that sometimes I would never imagine finding myself going. other times, I have sort of a hunch but the actual event always becomes larger and more powerful on me than I could've ever predicted - I am waylaid and slayed but somehow always a tiny bit wiser cuz of the stuff I get learned. there are times too when I'm a whole lot wiser and feel like a tornado has ripped through my head, my fingers numb, hands trembling and my hair all in a sweat, like it's been fever-soaked. my mind gets so much to working overtime on it that my eyes can't find their focus. internal dialogs I have going partially turn into audible words that spill from my mouth w/out my willing them to do so. this is a good time to be alone so not embarrass myself. I leave john's pad through a side hatch and hoof down the road.
sunny morning here in dallas, skies all blue. there's no sidewalks on these roads so you either have the loose footing of people's yards or the gutter part of the road - not that happening. after a couple of miles I return to john's pad and cuz it's sunday, call my ma. she's been sick pretty bad all week, hearing from my sister's email from a couple of days ago and her voice is kind of weak. she's not smoking cigarettes now but I know she'll get back to it when her health returns so I ask her please to consider quitting, telling her I did it so she can too. it's such a jones on her though cuz she's been doing it for like fifty years, quitting only during her pregnancies w/me and my sisters. well, she had the willpower for that so maybe she can muster it for now too. I hope so. I don't mean to nag her but these sicknesses she gets all settle in her lungs where she's the weakest. the doctor almost put her in the hospital again - the same thing happened during the same time I was laid low by that illness (about three years ago). it grieves me much to see my ma hurt so. she can only take so much advice from her boy so she changes the subject to other things. this doesn't help settle my mind though. having lost my pop, it works hard on me. my sisters didn't visit her this weekend cuz they're so busy but I know if they did, they be scolding her too. I think we all three don't want her to feel put down, we just want her strong and those cigarette are not where it's at. my ma tells me I sound like I'm kind of weak too but that's from hollering. I'm actually in pretty good shape - so are my guys. tour's pretty intense, day in and day out but we're doing ok. of course, both my guys are stronger than I am but that's cuz I got weaknesses now that'll always be w/me somewhat. I'd make it worse w/the smoking and drinking though so that's why I don't.
john offers to go w/me to change the oil on the boat. I usually do it every three thousand miles but the hellrides have left me no opportunity 'till now. we find one of those quick change pads and have it done there - straight thirty weight cuz of the warmer weather coming on and the age of the motor. john is upset w/the world situation and lets me know his views while we wait. I chime in when he brings up something I might have a thought on and it's invigorating for me. this is how d. boon would fire my mind up too. I get some of that from flow from the internet but not as much personal stuff, like dialog except for raymond. raymond has taught me more about politics, art and just so many things than anyone - all through the years. he is a constant wellspring and prime source I can always go to. his mind is sharp too - it cuts through agendas and ideology-based clutter, it breathes alive vitalness and makes concepts human for me, not just taling points. I sure miss him when I tour. he's incredibly funny too - humor is our savior! back to the moment here: I get so caught up in john's spiel, I space and forget the 'puter there in the waiting room when they get finished w/the boat. damn. when we get back to john's pad, he calls up to make sure it's there and then goes and gets it in his car. what a fucking idiot watt - that would've be a very major donate indeed. I put the first week of tour diary up at the hoot page - finally I have time. john cooks us up chow while pete and jer look through his huge poster collection. when chow's ready, we shovel eggs, potatoes, bacon and sausage pucks and it's good. john's wife sandy joins us and pete's quite tripped out how much she looks like his mother-in-law. trippy. we say thanks and bye and roll south for austin.
out of dallas and south on I-35. there's what jer calls "puffies" in the sky now - light white clouds but nothing too threatening as far as storm worries are concerned. pete's konked in the back. the scenery is much different in this part of texas, much green hills and trees as we pass through waco and onward south. texas has lots of frontage roads (what we call "the french road") that parallel the freeway and have lots of businesses on them in clusters around the towns on the way. there's one trippy place called "the dome compound" that's got all these pads made from domes. some of the domes have been built connected together and it's been painted up to look like a caterpillar - it's funny. there's some geodesic dome churches at other points on the freeway (they look different than the dome compound ones which look sort of like igloos). I miss seeing that style station pad where retro clothes get sold - I wonder if it's still there? I got a righteous levi jean jacket there (a circa 1970s one) when I was helping j w/tour as a fog. north of austin, the traffic plug starts and we slow way down. damn, memories of back home in l.a. - lame ones! we finally get into town and head for a music store to replace a cymbal jerry has beat to death but it's out of business. it was one of those strip mall ones called mars that tried to compete w/guitar center but ran out of gas. oh well. we go to the club, maybe four hours total of driving.
this pad is called stubb's bar-b-q and I've played here bunches, all of them inside. there's a big outdoor stage setup but I've never been on that. the folks here are very nice and a pleasure to work w/and for. since the pad is a q too, they chow us on what they got - I get some pork tenderloin w/a little bowl of back-eyed peas. I don't use their q sauce but rather dip each pork piece in the peas, smother it and then chow the combo. it's good. after that, the boss dirk lets me check email, sending what blather my crazy brain had time to compose. my wits are not too together in tour mode for that stuff and I just can't do much. I hope folks don't think I'm aloof. I barely have it together to send out the most important, vital ones. I tell dirk I was told by someone in dallas (acutally, it was john) to watch out cuz the soundman here was on the shit (cho-cho, cocaine) and this band he knows got their sound ruined. it's ridiculous in a way to repeat these rumors but maybe it does some good to put folks on guard. I haven't had my own soudnman in many tours and the fate of how my band sounds at a pad is totally in the house cat's hands. I give each one each night the same pep talk about how we're just the motor and he/she's the tranny - they're the ones who deliver the sound to the folks, kind of like interpreting it. anyway, dirk says the cat tonight, dave, "does not do blow." it's funny for me to hear texans or for that fact, anyone not in hollywood call that shit "blow" - I don't mean to laugh but I do. dave's done my sound before and he's a good man. I tell dirk not to worry, just passing along what I've been told and everythng's ok. I wonder if folks wonder what kind of something I'm on? rumors are sick. anyway, I went and said it so that's that. I dearly didn't mean any harm. dave does a soundcheck w/us and everything's fine.
we hear curt kirkwood might come - that would be great. for sure spot is and we're konking at his place after the gig. pete from peglegasus shows and says he's gonna try to find me a battery for the barbie purse. these old style ibook ones (the clamshell kind) are hard to find them for. we talk a bit about fistuals/abscesses since we both experience fuking all-hell from this shti and then I go to the boat to chimp and then konk - the first one of this tour that's kind of sweaty. I don't get naked but I do lose the shirt, socks and chuck taylors. I have a weird dream where I'm embarrassed big time by someone I respect so but have to begrudgingly accept I deserved it. it was a painful dream. I'm woken by spot who yells "hey captain" as jer pops the hatch. hi spot, it's gig time.
I missed the openers, spacetrucker, who are from here. I get up on the stage w/my bass and my sack and we start our gig. the crowd is really young but that's ok - they're very supportive too and it's fun playing for them - very much. pete and jer are kicking up much dust - jer's so fired up, he rushes some parts even - calm it down a little, cowboy. somebody keeps wanting to hear "shit you hear at parties" which would be a fun one to play - damn, was that one from long ago. pete's been wanting to do "this ain't no picnic" but we can't find a copy of "double nickels..." to play him the song. it's a fun gig though my hoarseness is leaning on me. I don't dig it. I blew it by hollering at some of those gigs where the monitors were shit and also by spieling too much after the gigs w/excited folks. gotta calm my shit down and rest up the vocal cords. I'll get a chance for sure when I go to do that stooges thing which is good luck for me. I feel so stupid for not taking better care. asshole. these cats very much enjoy the set and we do three songs for the encores. first though, I poll them on their opinions on something. there's a spirit in this town that has me wondering about this. I ask them what flower do they like better: roses, posies or pansies? pansies wins out - alright! I tell them I was discussing this w/my guys on the drive here from dallas but it was w/thoughts and not w/words. pete and jer look confused about this. could it be my thoughts were not penetrating their skulls? seemed like they were but maybe the conversation (or mind-meld) I thought we were having was a trick in my mind. hmm... does my mind play tricks on me? whatever, pansies are fun and I love them. if that upsets anyone then tough shit. that's what I think and I'm thinking it VERY out loud. I think everyone is quite surprised I chose to talk about this stuff.
lots and lots of kindness from the austin folks and I feel very grateful. truly. my old fried cary's here and he's beaten cancer - great. good to see doug rockett too - we talk some by the boat. I miss talking to doug, he can't find medical work (he's a lab doctor) in cali where he wants so he's here. oh well. no curt kirkwood, damn. this lady wendy who has a column in a zine here asks me two questions for it - 1) two biggest influences: d. boon and... 2) purpose of rock and roll: to blow the cobwebs out of your mind. we follow spot to his pad and man, it's much emptier than I've ever seen it - he's dumped a bunch of stuff. he gets beer and bushmills whiskey going w/him and my guys (watt is still not drinking) while I show them how to look at the pictures we've taken so far on the tour (like eight hundred) on the barbie purse. spot builds a bonfire in the backyard! oh boy. I love spot though - big time, a very good friend for over twenty years. him and my guys sauce and sauce (I've never really seen spot drink this much before and it's the first time this tour that pete and jer have guzzled this much) but I am tired and hit my sack, which is by the door. I prop my head up on the door kind of (via a pillow) cuz man, there was some huge roaches crawling around the baseboards of the kitchen. the way I konk w/my mouth open sometimes (from what I've been told), it might get stuffed w/some fo these creatures. that would be a mouthful. mask down, I hear spot and my guys yammering on way past whatever late hour it is.
monday, april 14 - houston, tx
popped on spot's deck-not w/ a headache so much as a total dry-heave of my existence; head emptied of all fluids and replaced w/ two-part epoxy, bowels filled w/ lime, mouth filled / old flannels. cars sounded like freight trains and the rustle of leaves in the wind like the apex of a tornado in my head. aah.. the magic of alcohol. I knew I would be paying out the yang for this the remainder of the day. Jer grumbled loudly, obviously in the same kind of pain I was suffering (nice to have something in common w/ a friend) - spot was still conked out in his room, snoring a nasal symphony, oblivious to our plight ( albeit I imagined he would soon come to a realization). I reluctantly pulled myself out of the bag and went to go splash some cold water on my face, eager for at least a brief respite from my totally encompassing ailment. I walked back into the living room and my vision immediately focused on a brown gooey blob of peanut butter that spot in all his whiskey wisdom had left out on the kitchen counter for his cat; waves of revulsion and nausea slowly passed thru my body-all I needed at this point was a big slab of salt pork and some clam juice to wash it down with. aaarrrgghhh!!! watt was clacking away happily at the ibook when he turned around to say something to me and spot's cat ginger sat right down on the keyboard and it went abruptly black, much to the chief's chagrin. he re-booted and re-booted to no avail when finally the old barbie purse lit up to its former glory on the third try- watt was very relieved. I was still however, nauseous and proceeded to drink a gallon of water ( I wished I had some pedialyte- a great hangover cure that I stumbled upon by complete accident), and this alleviated the flannels-in-the-mouth somewhat , but I still felt death was an option. we rolled up the bags and threw all of our stuff into the boat and steamed off; thanks spot for the poison and good vibes. you've never failed us.
I really wanted to just curl up into a ball and revert back to an amoeba -like state, but it wasn't to be and jer quickly ensconced himself in the bench seat and drifted off- I rapped w/ watt and he wanted to stop for some chow at cafe 290; a cool little roadside pad that we had stopped at before but the simple thought of food was still very much repulsive to me. nevertheless we stopped at 290 and I ordered up a chicken omelette- it might has well of been a shit omelette as far as I was concerned so I didn't consume much of it. we paid our tab and continued on to houston; I plotted out a route on the ti book and snapped some pics but the digi-cam was not working properly (the combo snap button and on/off switch was wearing out), so we had to snafu the scenic photography until a suitable replacement could be had. we pulled off the freeway about thirty minutes out of houston and into a strip mall where there was an office depot and a supermarket; watt needed to purchase a replacement digi-cam and I had to buy some shaving cream and a new toothbrush ( the previous one I had graciously donated to jon lambert- the first one of the tour). I came back to the boat and jer was awake w/ the side hatch popped, watt had not returned yet. I removed the harley boots, kicked up my dogs and tried to get a start on a little conk but I was still wide awake and it would take some time. watt returned w/ the new digicam (a sony), happier that he had solved the camera problem but three hundred bucks poorer (what can ya do- shit takes a beating on tour). Jer took the ti book and began plotting our descent into houston- I was happy as a clam in the back, glad to get at least a modicum of shut-eye.
We steamed into town about two o'clock and pulled up to the side of the pad (rudyard's) and popped the side hatch. The place wasn't opening until four o'clock and we had some time to blow; watt had a radio interview to do, Jer wanted to go to a restaurant down the street to hang and I just wanted to lay down. having been left to my lonesome, I decided to nip this hangover thing in the bud; I rolled up the windows in the boat, shut the side hatch, rolled myself up in two blankets and proceeded to conk in my home-made schvitz. two-hours later I was awakened by watt opening the side hatch; I was totally soaked in sweat but I felt fucking alive!- my tried and true method had worked and I felt liberated.... to say the least. feeling much better, I went in to the club to chimp a little more diary and ended up finishing a good deal of it. some very nice peeps brought us some care packages (trail mix, habanero's,ginger beer, gars'), much respect to tiffany, and craig and jennifer (who did the same last tour)- a very kind and much appreciated gesture. mike mcguire showed w/ his wife ruthy (we were staying at their pad in la porte like last tour), and we had a few drinks and rapped about kids (mike and ruthy have an adorable 9 mo. old), then headed upstairs to hear the second band, peglegasus (friends of watt's from the firehose days). we didn't have a chance to do a soundcheck but the soundman, joe had mixed us on the previous tour so at least he had an idea of what to expect. peglegasus sounded great; awesome drummer and bass player and the songs are very cool- lots of neat hooks (kind of like the who-live at leed's). they finished up their set and jer went to go wake up watt , then we set up the gear in place and did a quick line check. when we played this pad this pad last tour, it had turned out to be a terrifying experience for me; I still wasn't down w/ the set and there were people all around me, so I had felt extremely self-conscious- I had played okay, but it was terror nonetheless. we launched into the set; the crowd was all basically sitting down so it was like doing a recital, but there was some people directly in front of us and to the side. They seemed to like the new material and we played well, but the monitors were shit and I could barely hear the singing. we soldiered on and watt breaks a string during "forever/one reporter's opinion and the big train comes to a halt. "tell a story" somebody yells out and watt obliges while changing the string- we launch right into it exactly where we left off and finish up the song w/o missing a beat (we've become accustomed to this kind of thing). we did the rest of the set and the crowd was very gracious altho' it was a little trippy playing to everybody sitting down. We rapped w/ some of the people after the show while we were breaking down and the comments were very positive- alot of people didn't know what to expect w/ the organ in the picture, but I think we won them over (we signed more posters on this nite than any other on the tour). A cat named mark gave me his houston oilers shirt (childress) and I had him sign it for me (much to his surprise). we loaded up the gear in the boat and followed mike and ruthy to their pad in la porte- a forty minute drive. once again I got to see the seemingly endless rows of refineries as we passed thru pasadena, texas and it tripped me out once again (I truly think that it is a future superfund site). we pulled into mike's driveway and were commenting on how nice his house is coming along when we realized that we had gone into the wrong driveway. shit! watt pulled the boat back onto the road and we saw mike and ruthy flagging us down from their actual driveway; we swung in and the chief pulled the boat into its new port. we pulled all our stuff out and rolled the bags into the bedrooms mike had set up for us- checked some emails, rapped and razzed each other a little andthen turned in. I for one, welcomed the conk.....
pop and find no giant roaches crawling out of my mouth so maybe the head-prop strategy worked - either that or they got scared off from the babbling. jer says I was talking in my sleep big time (supplement w/snores) but the sounds we're coherent words, or at least not coherent to him. I had no idea I was doing this. d. boon used to talk in his sleep and it was clearly understandable - he also walked in his sleep - it was trippy. I hose off and the roust pete and jer cuz we have to get to houston by 2:30 for an interview on the radio there. as they ready, I check to see if the battery spot gave me for the barbie purse (the one in it now won't hold a charge and I have to us ac power to run it - that or the adapter I can use in the boat's cigarette lighter socket, what a great gift from e all those tours ago) but it's not happening. thanks for trying anyway, spot. he's konked cold - boy, he'll probably have a thumper when he wakes cuz my guys are pretty much hung and wrung (both admit no head-poundings but rather "worn-out selves" - ok). bye bye spot and smoother seas for you, I know these recent days have been kind of rough for you. sorry I couldn't take you on this tour like last year cuz I know you dug it much and so did we. all of us talk about it in the boat as we go back up the I-35, north through austin. lots of jokes too about getting "sauced" (use boston accent here). even after taking liquor blows, my guys still have good humor and that's a great asset. I love this team.
we go east on us-290 for houston. there's a chow pad called the 290 cafe and I get a carne quisada omelette. I usually never eat this heavy on a tour morning but once in a while is ok. beautiful hill country to be seen on this road, the towns are pretty small and there's not much traffic. just as fast as the interstate too except for the usual slowing down for the little towns. most times a highway like this turns into the town's main street for it's duration so that makes things usually thrityfive mph. the sky now has some big white clouds (there was a halo around the moon last night after the gig and boy, we're the clouds racing by it!) but the weather is still mild - sunny and dry, righteous. pete's taking shots w/the nikon digicamera and he wants to get one of jer konked out on the back bench w/his bell (gut) hanging out, all in display mode. the camera keeps malfunctioning - the power switch is fucked up, damn. all these things going wrong w/it (the scratched lens and the shutter button itself), I decide to get another digicamera if we get to houston early enough. I love being able to take snaps on tour - it's like the visual part of a tour diary or even a kind of a diary in itself. damn, I wish I would've done this all the tours before, in my younger days. can't do anything about that now but I can make sure I can document the tours I do now.
we pull into the sprawl that is houston, which is kind of a texas version of l.a. (hell, the whole country is going this way) and as we pass strip mall after strip mall, I spot and office depot and pull the boat in there. we got almost an hour so I rush in a find this sony cyber-shot (dsc-p72) one econo. it comes w/the batteries and re-charger too. I do something I never usually do - I get two years more of warranty so there's three total on it. I think as much as I use these little cameras (I take them w/me each morning when I'm pedaling too), there's too much a chance of them taking blows. my guys like this new a lot and though it's a little bit bigger, I think it'll work out ok. still fits in the same sack even. back on the road and we pull up to pad we're playing tonight right on time. we played here last time, it's called rudyard's and where you play is upstairs. the first time we played here (last year) we didn't know about the elevator they have and hefted everything up the stairs. that was w/the voce (pete's midi kludge of a hammond) which was much easier to handle than what we have this tour which is the real deal: the b3. I dearly love the sound pete gets out of his hammond and even w/the hell of its weight, I'm so glad we have it aboard than that halfass thing we tried last tour. it is fortunate though to have this elevator for us. I really don't know how things are going to work when paul takes over for the tour's last two weeks (pete flies home after six weeks to get back to the cat food lab on terminal island) but we'll make do somehow.
there's a cat here from the radio station (kpft) and he drives me there which isn't far. both the rudyard's and the station are in a part of houston called montrose and it's kind of the bohemia section of town. kpft is a pacifica station (we have one in l.a. called kpfk that I've listened to since a teenager) which means listener supported. the pacifica has been peace oriented since the first one in berkeley (kpfa) during the early 50s. there's a cat name matt there who has a hip-hop show and wanted me on. it's a trip for him and some of his guys to hear that I played w/schooly d in like fifteen years ago. I dug schooly's first records much and wanted to play w/him in his home town (phily) but everyone said it couldn't happen but I just had my man outside the van (mister steve kaul) just ring his guy up and it turned out to be a great gig. in those days, I thought rap was very much like punk in lots of ways and didn't find them so incompatible - not at all. all the genre stuff is just marketing fodder anyway - music is melodies and rhythms, stories and soul - style is something each person doing it works on to find their own voice inside. that's what I think, anyway. matt plays some old minutemen ("if reagan played disco") and a song I did for norml w/petra, perk and george hurley called "sidemousin' the bong," which prompts me telling the story of when I saw bob marley in 1979 w/richard "fuckin'" bonney. bob marley was something else, a mindblow for us. it was funny too, us rolling these huge mota joints w/notebook paper filled w/econo bunk stuff and held together w/straight pins (bob's record covers showed him using newspaper but we didn't have the nerve to they that) that had us choking so hard (gagging, actually) that the folks around us were laughing their heads off. that was a trip too cuz there was no one w/dreadlocks or reggae outfits - most the folks were black folks dressed nice in formal wear, like for a r and b show. it was where the bruins play basketball at ucla, pauley pavilion and it I'm taken aback that matt here has a bootleg of this gig at home. wow. we talk about me touring and how things have changed and not changed over all the years which leads to what I think is important about the arts and of course, what it's like to be part of a tradition me and d. boon shared and what that means in these days. I'm sure glad matt had me over and we got to talk about things. there's a part of houston I've now found out about that I really didn't have any idea of, even w/all the tours through here. shows to go you that life is about being always open to learn and find things out.
an old friend, mike mcguire (who's pad on the gulf in la porte I've been staying at after houston gigs for the last sixteen years) drives me back to the club and I find out no soundcheck tonight. that's ok, we can hand cuz last year, the soundman joe did a great job. peglegasus is on the bill (along w/locals, the jonx) so that's a neat thing. they're old buddies of mike's and they have a great sound - I play them all the time on my radio show (http://twfps.com). I call my answering machine in pedro for the first time this tour and find out it's been all filled up, mostly by crap. I do have some messages on there from a couple years ago (!) and keep those but erase the rest to make room. there's one message to call the l.a. times so I do and this writer bob wants to talk to me about carlos guitarlos, who had me play on his last album. carlos almost died of congestive heart failure and it's so great he's still here to share w/us cuz his vocabulary of music is incredible. he was w/top jimmy and the rhythm pigs - so sad top jimmy is no longer w/us. this life is a hard teacher. anyway, it's kind of easy for me to relate to this cuz of my experience w/the illness that almost took me down. the bottom line is I'm quite grateful to still be in the ring and am glad carlos is too. d. boon always admired his playing.
I go to the boat and chimp diary and find it's so much easier to konk than this time last year here cuz the weather's so mild. I'm out for like three hours - whoa! I thought we were supposed to go on at eleven (it is monday, a work night) but jer tells me it's our time now and it's midnight! spacecase watt. cary, that cat in austin last night who beat cancer (again I say "yes!") is outside the boat taking pictures - great to see him again. the little bass is already upstairs so I take the sling sack and make my way. great, a good crowd and we start our set. it's kind of scary cuz there's chairs and the folks that are standing are more in the back so it's like a recital almost for cats sitting a couple feet right in front of us. I can tell it's pretty uncomfortable for pete and jer but hell, I have my eyes closed almost the whole time! a kind of a character builder for sure. jer's real nervous and I tell him to just relax (this is funny coming from watt) and I think we do good, even w/some clams. at the end, I tell everyone I wish all of us could travel around our lands and others to get to know each other really instead of the manufactured images televised on whatever. us humans the houston folks are very, very appreciative and show it much when we finish - I must spend almost an hour talking w/them while slinging and after. I should also there was two huge care packages brought while I was konked, one anonymous (but I think I know who they are cuz they're so nice to me every tour) plus one from craig and denise. both are full of fruit, nuts, 'gars - plus craig/denise's has reed's ginger beer (!) and organic pear juice (!!). there's mota even (I'm so glad he told jer cuz to get mota when you don't know it can be scary - I travel w/none of it in the boat and how can you do that if you don't know someone's donated it, thinking it's being nice - what a fucking nightmare for the border or whatever. it so kind-hearted and generous of folks - you don't have to think for a second why I play my heart out each night when there's niceness like this shared w/me and my guys. much love and respect to them. sonic love big time. I meet one cat who's a painter and he tells me raymond's got three of his works (surfer ones) up in museum here. that's so great to hear. there's lots more good talk too - lots of love here in houston, thank you so much. this cat from france wants me to sign a poster. I put "viva la france, love from watt" - for helping us w/our revolution (probably unwinnable w/out them), I have a soft spot, even w/that being so long ago - I still think it's important to remember. I know they've taken a lot of shit cuz of current politics but things can get so trendy and people can just act w/out thinking. he tells me he's met a lot of nice folks and houston though and he's glad he came to visit. john from the peglegs give me a book of the illustrations gustave dore did of dante's "commedia" - it's beautiful - thank you, john. or maybe "merci" cuz he tells me he's learned all these french songs and is singing them much.
'pert-near three and we follow mike past all the foul refinery grossness on the way to where he lives in la porte, on the gulf of mexico. man, what a blighted slough of smells, steel and chemical - there must be like tweny or thirty plants along the way. his pad is righteous though, from the teens and he's re-doing it, one part at a time. the moon is really bright out and the clouds are racing like banshees across it, a strange red tinge to their color (maybe due to contributions from the nearby refineries?). usually this time of year, the unbearable humidity begins its chokeout but we're truly blessed w/calm cali-like weather and all three of us pedro dudes are loving it. mike's girl ruthie makes me some throatcoat tea and I spend a little social time but not much cuz I am ready big time for sleepytown. there's a room I always konk in here, his ma's old one and the arms of konk embrace me quick but tenderly.
read week 1 of the tour diary
read week 3 of the tour diary
loop back to mike watt's hoot page