"the cord that spun its own top" tour 2003 diary - week 6

mike watt + the secondmen

shot of pete and jer in 2003shot of watt in 2003

pete mazich - organ, singing
jerry trebotic - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel

(left to right)

steve kaul - the man outside the van

tuesday, may 6 - albany, ny

from watt:

   pop and do a long soak in jimbo's tub. well, I guess it's his wife's tub cuz he was saying how he uses the other head which has a shower - this is "own" head. jimbo got married last summer and was a bachelor all those years before so there appears to be holdovers from that life, like having your own head. I can understand that cuz I'm pretty set in my ways and would find it pretty hard to bust out of them - it was very difficult when I was married and I had just turned thirty then - lots of me seemed carved into stone then. I've lived alone now for more than ten years, that period of sharing w/kira was pretty hard - it must've been a nightmare for her since it was my tiny one-room pad that she moved into. I get memories of those days when I'm in a couple's place. I think it's a very noble and human thing to share and admire much those who can. however, some of us get along the other way too and that's gotta be ok - better than making someone suffer in a bad situation (either/both parties). soaking in a tub w/lady lotions, oils and creams lining the ledge, I'm prone to think about such things. must be a big change for jimbo but change can mean growth and that's good. always getting your way is not really a way to learn all there is about this life. I admire my friends who can share a life, much respect to them. I guess I share better w/people in public on a bass though I don't really know... I'm kind of too close to get a judgement on things like this.

   jimbo gets up and makes me the righteous coffee he used to in his old canal street pad. man, how many mornings did I pop and get coff from him there? I dug his old pad and he was always so righteous to make me feel at home there. I even had my own set of llaves (keys) for it, something I've never had since or before w/anyone else. jimbo was always very unique in my life and it's great that he's let me into his new world. I've seen him really only once in the last two years and that was at the wedding where I didn't get much to say but that was totally ok cuz it was his and new wife cameron's big, big day. I don't have a real suit so my friend lisa roeland had her friend danielle loan me these clothes from some guy she meant on the internet and came to live w/her but bailed after a while. they were a little big but fit good enough. it was a total throw of the dice anyway but I thought maybe it was better to try this than wear levis and a flannel though I know jimbo would've like me in whatever. it was a trippy ceremony - well, I have to admit I haven't been to too many weddings but the mayor of san francisco, willie brown, married them! jimbo's pop was a radio talkshow dj going way back in that town and knew him. I was very happy for everyone there, even if it was a trip for me - I was very glad I went even being probably more nervous than jimbo. at least our friend juan rosenfelder went to help me w/the nerves, seeing that he was about the only guy I knew there. jimbo's pop was very nice to me and said he was glad I was there. I'm getting a little sentimental now, remembering all this but it was kind of heavy for me. there are parts of my world that are pretty arrested in some areas where most people have much more life lived there. so it goes. jimbo's an important person in my life and I'm grateful I still have a part in his. that might sound weird from someone who's kind of public but lots of me is very private and not so social, especially as I get older... I mean, less young.

   I go outside while jimbo does some laundry and find gray skies. well, at least no rain! definitely weather for the yellow coat my ma gave me last birthday though. at the "bodega" (what jimbo calls the little store on the corner here - by the way, someone had a sense of humor naming these streets cuz one intersection is the corner of seaman and cummings!) I get a liverwurst sandwich. you can't find a chow pad in pedro that could make you one of these. it tastes good. when I get back, my guys are up and I suggest to jer to take the subway down to the pad we played sunday, the mercury lounge and get the rug he sets his drums on that got donated after that gig. pete goes w/him. me and jimbo catch up on things while they're gone. everything is getting more and more expensive in this town and he might have to move when the lease is up. his wife wants to move to cali and jimbo's originally from the south s.f. area (where he got married, at his parent's pad in hillsborough) but he has his work here w/randy poster, a friend of mine I met through jimbo where they put music w/movies and it might be tough to switch that w/the left coast. it makes me think how lucky I am to have my pedro town. pete and jer return, mission successful and we're set to shove off. big hugs for jimbo and we hoof back to the lot but I want one more piece of this town so as we pass another "bodega," I get yet another liverwurst sandwich. I am a kook but some chows can put trippy feelings in me, what do you call it - "comfort chow" or something like that? it makes me think of how much I want something about this town I could keep inside me forever. I definitely have feelings that way, experiences that like tattooed me on the inside. I don't think I could ever wash them out of my life. whoa, here's this postcard from katz's - almost spaced and forgot it. damn, I wanted to mail it on cinco de mayo but fucked that up. maybe that's a cornball date anyway, thalia says most mexicans don't celebrate that holiday anyway - it's more of a marketing scam used by gringos to sell shit. things happen for a reason so the sixth of may is fine w/me. I'm learning to be more accepting and not so hung up on pre-conceptions - try to, anyway. whoa, only ten bucks to park the boat in this lot - a big difference from midtown, huh? jer at the wheel again (thanks, jer - I'm still not feeling that strong downstairs) and we're soon out of manhattan and north on I-87. we cross the tappen zee bridge and get a great view of the hudson. very pretty drive to albany and we get into town around 4:30 but then there's the usual panic to find where we going (pete is getting better w/reading the mapping software but me and jer have to learn not to be such maniacs about helping him along and going into heart attack panics) so we reach valentine's around five. this is the club I've been playing the last several times in town and the boss, howard, is someone I dig much and it's a pleasure playing for. he wants to know all about the stooges thing so I tell him, I still can't believe that happened...

   there's a laundromat almost next door so me and jer do wash. damn, how I wish every gig had a place you could wash clothes near it - that would be an idea for a requirement if I was gig fuhrer... I'm just kidding - I wouldn't want there to be that kind of job for anyone. I meet the guys in the opening bands, one's a nyc band called famous and the other's a local one called kitty little. the albany band is fronted by a cat named matto that's been doing bands since he was fourteen and howard told him like ten years ago he kind of sounded like the minutemen and made him a tape to listen to. that's a trip. he shows me the converted van school bus he has. it's a trip - you can stand up in it. matto says the bad thing is that it only gets six miles a gallon, damn. I suggest to him to build a fully enclosed bay for the equipment so if there's a wreck, the gear won't fly around and kill those inside. that's what I tell all bands w/a van. however, matto says you can't open the rear doors from the outside so that's a problem. hmm... I hope he figures something out cuz I want him and his people safe. jesse, his bass player, is a lady and 'pert-near taller than me! the guys in famous are nice, they got put on the bill by the man outside the van, steve kaul's assistant, seth. I like meeting folks I'm playing w/even though most times I'm konked and miss their sets, I do try to see the soundchecks. I like the idea of younger people who are playing to meet someone my age still doing it so maybe they'll have confidence to keep going as long as the got the fire inside to do it. a cat named john shows up and presents me w/a care package containing all kinds of good stuff: organic pear juice, pears, plums, a macanudo 'gar, a bottle w/a plastic brain on the cap called "crazy jerry's brain damage mind blowin' hot sauce"and a book by william least heat-moon called "blue highways." thank you much, john - what a kind man. I go to the boat and chimp diary (finally put up week four at jimbo's this morning and am just waiting for pete to finish yesterday to put up week five - I'm in real time chimp mode now that all the sickness days have been made up). jer comes and brings me some buffalo wings howard always orders for me. they're good but still kind of tame. the "jerry's... sauce" is hot but too chemically tasting. oh well, folks try and I appreciate that much. pete and jer head off w/some friends pete has on the hammond organ list that want to chow them. he was working hard at soundcheck (which we did w/soundman mike) to replace the key he broke last night in hoboken and then he finds the leslie speaker's amp has busted loose from it's moorings, the chassis cracked off. damn - tour is sure intense on equipment! jason, the man who's all about "the prisoner" and blue oyster cult (a great combination of disciplines!) greets me and says there's a new patrick mcgooghan interview but it's twentyfive bucks! I still want to see it cuz I'm so much into that show he did - "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

   I konk hard and get woke by jer when it's time to play. I know pete's a little nervous playing in front of his peers - we fuck up the time bad in madonna's "bedtime story" but for the most part, we do a good gig. not so much hurting for me where I'm weakest too which I can very much dig. these albany folks are very nice. I tell them I lived for a little bit in balston spa, near where a nuclear plant was ("it's still there" lot of folks respond) and I say something like "since my pop died of cancer, fuck the nuclear navy" but when we come back for an encore, I say that seeing the navy's the only branch of the armed forces mentioned in constitution, I'm sorry for being a little hard on them and really, I just miss my pop a bunch. that still doesn't mean I'm pro-war cuz I ain't but the constitution is worth defending, I think and not just against foreigners but also dicks here wrapping themselves in whatever. violence isn't the only way to defend either, lots of times it's about ideas and living up to ethical standards and that can mean facing down what might called like "short cuts" in the name of "security" or however the word/semantic game is getting played. serious shit, not so easily accommodated by fashionably romanticized militarism. a goofy bass player on a stage w/a microphone will not have all the answers either, like I said: no easy short cuts.

   I had a good time w/this gig and thank everyone for their open minds and hearts. I do this every night cuz I very much mean it. I can't think of better situation that would be better suited for what I do and feel quite fortunate there are folks like that when I take the boat and my guys out for tour - every time cuz it should not be taken for granted by someone like myself who's trying to do what I do. there's a cat who gives a bunch of cds w/spiels by senors zinn, chomsky and also ms. amy goodman - thank you. there's lots of bass players too wanting to talk that machine up and I do. we pack up and follow pete's organ friend paul to his pad. we were going to stay w/jason again but he has only the street for us to park the boat at that's kind of scary for our gear. he's such a sweet man too and makes the best bagels. however, a safe place for the boat is kind of paramount - one big donate of her and the tour's through so we have to be careful. I did meet a couple I stayed w/a few years ago that have a new pad now but I don't want to hurt pete's friend's feelings - he went and chowed pete and jer even. I grab the couch - paul offered me a room but I'd rather be in a place where everyone can see me easy cuz you never know what kind of crazy shit can happen, especially w/room mates and I think there's like three or four here, ones I haven't met (and they haven't met me). pete and jer want to go out drinking w/paul - not my scene, konksville is where I want to soon be at so it's in the minus twenty sack w/the mask on. I arrive most quick.

wednesday, may 7 - norhtampton, ma

from watt:

   pop and make the realization that even though this supposed to be spring, I am so very glad to have my minus twenty bag cuz it is cold! not in the bag here but out of it, in this room as indicated by the fog from my breath. holy cow! I guess these big old pads weren't insulated all that good or whatever. it's ok though, I konked good despite what paul (the cat who lives here) said about it getting a little noisy - it was no problem for me at all. I hose off upstairs in the shower. it's nice cali-like weather outside so I decide to hoof some. even though it's early, maybe eight, I find a deli open so maybe another liverwurst sandwich... why not? new york deli "jalapeno" chips too. new york chilies??? I know a hot pepper there but didn't know there was a whole chip industry around them, funny. I like texture w/my sandwiches so I stuff them w/the crunchables. all this feels good in my mouth. I go back to the pad and soak up some sun in the backyard, sitting there and having conversation w/the little birds darting about. not w/words but w/whistles, like they use.

   after a bit, I get week four of the diaries up - one more day from pete and I'll have week five too and be all caught up. great. I like the discipline it takes to do the diary cuz it gives me focus in other ways than just trying to get the gig right (though that's probably the most important goal of each day we play). I like sharing w/the kids too (including the grown up ones) and even my ma likes them. I sure wish I would've done diaries for all those minutemen and fIREHOSE tours, that goes for the ones w/the porno for pyros guys too. not only would've I developed my writing skills and have much more of a leg up on that now but I would've had a record of stuff fucking alzheimers-like shit has robbed from me. the diary is an endeavor I dig much. it's a little embarrassing for me, kind of - one reason you'll see so many stupid error is cuz I'm too scared to proofread what I've written. I think if I did that, I'd start make more than just corrections - I'd probably want to make whole-scale re-writes and lose all the stream of conscious shit that I think is key to something like this.

   pete and jer get up and we're on our way once pete writes a thank you note to paul for having us over. I hope the other folks that saw me (on their way to work?) who live here didn't mind either. it's trippy w/room mates you haven't met, like I was saying about last night - you don't want to make anyone feel ill at ease. anyway, much respect to everyone who's extended a hospitable hand - very, very kind. I ask jer to take the wheel again and we head out of town, next stop is northampton in western massachusetts. east on the new york throughway (I-90) for a bit and then the mass pike (still I-90), which I like to call the richie blackmoore freeway cuz he used to wear a pilgrim hat at gigs w/deep purple when I saw them in the 70s. how many different diary entries have I mentioned that in? sometimes, I think about that, should I repeat shit I've chimped in tour spiels past? how can I remember even if I have already mentioned it? I think it's better to just let things flow as they come to mind - ok, no more! enough self-analysis of my tour chimping!   at springfield (where both the wwe hq and the nba basketball hall of fame are), we head north on I-91 and make our way to northampton. another panic w/directions from jer as pete struggles w/his 'puter-born map and finally I have us pull over and plot a course. the wisdom I've learned from many tours is "you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you're at." funny thing is pete did tell where to turn but jer couldn't hear over his own yammering. poor pete. on behalf of his defense these towns here out east are really old ones for the u.s. (like three hundred years and more for some of them) and the roads aren't so much on the grid system but rather based on old cow paths. right across from both the police and masonic temple is where we want, the iron horse. it's been maybe four years since I last played this town and I made sure we would this tour cuz thurston has been hammering me to play where he lives. here's the big irony: him and sonic youth are in chicago for a gig w/wilco and he'll miss us! shows to go ya! these things happen and I should be playing this town more regularly anyway. what's much more an issue is pete's leslie amp and it snapping it's mounting last night. what we need is a drill or it's gonna be a nightmare when paul takes over for pete. I call up j mascis since he lives in nearby amherst but when he answers his phone - I guess it's his walkie-talkie cuz he tells me he's in australia! whoa, he's on tour and it's a day off for him. you know it's the modern age when you can just call and rap w/your buddy in australia! maybe no drill from him. he asks me about that stooges gig and then tells me about the fire that hit his pad and took out his studio (bob's place) - damn. safe seas to you, j. as luck would have it, an old friend of his, zeke, comes by to say hi and he knows someone w/a drill - yes! right around the same time, who shows up but murph, dinosaur's first drummer. he's looking good, lost some weight.

   jim, the iron horse soundman comes and unlocks the venue for us to load in and allow pete to make his repairs. I set up quick and then go into the town square - we're only a block away cuz I saw a used book store and want so bad to get pete a copy of richard mckenna's "the sand pebbles" so he can get some insights to my opera. it's also a great, great read. damn, not here either - how many stores this tour have I checked and struck out on this? I do get two books for myself, nieves matthew's "francis bacon - the history of a character assassination" (he was a teacher of england's first elizabeth in the 1500s) and lawrence ferlinghetti's "her" which he called "a surreal semi-autobiographical balckbook record of a semi-mad period of my life, in that mindless, timeless state most romantics pass through, confusing flesh madonnas w/spiritual ones." this is perfect for someone like me right now. richard meltzer turned me on to mister ferlinghetti and I'm forever in his debt - I've read everything I can find of his. I get back to the club and pete's still at work - just a matter of a little bit more time and we'll have success so I go across the road to sit and wait on the steps of this old church. drum soundchecks drive me out of my mind. anyway, I'm sitting and there and this older lady comes up and sits by me - she's older than me but not elderly - and we get to talking. she asks where I'm from and when she hears cali, she tells me about this time she was driving in san francisco right after the 1989 earthquake. all the bridges were closed and she was trying to get to the east bay from the city and kept having to go south. she had to drive through all the mess and wreckage and every bridge she came up on was closed. she told me she had to piss so bad that when traffic ground to a halt on the freeway, she just got out of her car, squatted and pissed right there on the road. she said a lady in another car made eye contact w/her and saw the tears streaming down her face - she said she could tell this lady understood. I told her I knew exactly where she was coming from and we were of the same cloth. she asked what I did, I said bass and she said that was a good thing to work. pete and jer just then came out to get me for soundcheck. what a nice chance meeting. I wished her safe seas. funny thing is I started a fIREHOSE tour the same day as that earthquake and the first gig was to be in s.f. the city was blacked-out so instead we played a put-together gig in cupertino. we actually even drove almost over the epicenter while it was happening in watsonville. we saw the telephone pole wires whipping around but thought it was just the wind but when we talked and thought about it, we remember no wind buffeting the boat so that was weird. the road gets wind through there so we didn't even know. this lady who talked to me wasn't that far away at the time... what trippy things tour can bring you, huh?

   after soundcheck, I go to the boat and konk and am out for maybe three hours - a big one. pete gets me when it's our at bat. I miss local openers astral blanket and the bears but met the band members before when they were loading end and they all seemed like good cats. I just need the rest to play my best, especially in the weakened state the sickness left me in. a good crowd in the pad and we start the gig. it's going good when I space on the second line of the second song - what the fuck is it? damn. I have to stop the tune and I first go ask pete and then jer but both of them haven't got a clue. I stop for a bit to think and then it comes to me, "confused real deep, why won't it bail and let me shake free?" - how could I forget a line like that cuz it's the story of my life! we continue and then a couple songs later, I break a 'd' string. oh shit, no extra strings - they're in the boat but luckily it's right out front so I run out there and get them. fuck, what a bozo. I'm feeling ridiculous in a way but in another, I'm kind of glad things look a little human - overcoming things like this show something that machine-perfect precision can gloss over though it would be pretty contrived to do it on purpose. I have good practice on changing strings so it's a quick change - both these clams cost us not that much in yards lost for delay of game. the rest of the gig goes fairly smooth though my amp is really running rough and crunched up. oh well. we get to the last tune, the b.o.c. one and when the bass solo comes up, I holler "murph" right when I hit the first note of it and damn if I don't shit my pants. not a big one but some for sure. god damn. am I slowly falling apart and crumbling or what? maybe it was something I chowed? (earlier in the day, I had to purge some solid waste bad and usually most pads want only customers using their heads so I got a slice of pizza at some pad called pinocchio's that had pineapple and chicken on it. this was no tudino's - that's for sure). maybe it was a strange sort of life for murph - I don't know. I do know I was sure glad to see him when he came by the boat earlier. we come back for an encore and I tell the crowd what happened and someone says "I did too, mike." I think they think I'm kidding - maybe some don't cuz these younger folks head for the door when they hear what I say. didn't mean to gross anyone out. we do a long version of "little doll" - I extend out the end part where I shake hard and try to emote kind of erotic (erotic for watt - whatever that means) and this guy hollers "give it to me, mike." well, that's a twist - especially after explaining I just blew it out! I can't hold it in and have to laugh just a little bit.

   this was a good gig and I thank everyone much for bearing w/the weirdness. there's all these pictures on the walls of cats who've played here and I say it's quite an honor to both play w/my secondmen and to get to be part of the tradition here, especially in front of very kind folks w/open minds and hearts to check out what I'm doing. I talk w/folks who come up while I'm slinging and there's very nice things being said to me. I meet bruce who has the "watt makes a man start fires" web site and thank him much for all the nice things he's done. I meet young cats who have their bands and others who tell me not to stop no matter how old I get. one lady asks me does it feel to be sick and still want to play and I tell her it's trippy but I'm driven and she says that's a good thing. another lady tells me she's almost my age and likes seeing someone like that doing what I'm doing. right after, some really young people tell me the same thing. wow. very, very kind of everyone. one cat really wants me to play this song I wrote for fIREHOSE during the first gulf war called "herded into pools" the next time I'm in town. I tell him I should update it to make it more relevant to now, maybe "embedded into units" or something like that. I don't know if that registered w/him, lots of what I wrote into songs never translated to others - I never did have the knack d. boon did for making things plain and easy to understand. even w/people who I think kind of know me, I have to admit I'm probably confusing to them - even when I think what I'm saying is crystal clear. I settle w/the boss and he wants me to sign a picture of me for the club here - he wants to put it on the wall, along side people like marcia ball - wow, I'm touched much. such a singular time here in northampton tonight!

   we start to load out and here comes the rain... whoa, it was beautiful cali-like weather earlier today too! some city guy turns on the fire hydrant across the street and water comes blasting out - what's that about? daniel, from the astral blanket band, invites us to konk at his pad which is both close and safe for the boat (two great things) and as soon as we get there, he let's me shower and get clean from the blow-out. much respect to you daniel. he let's me have a hit of mota and then it's in the sack w/me cuz I am beat. this gig made me really weak compared to the night before in albany where I thought I was getting stronger. damn. anyway, I'm in the sack w/the mask down - daniel's an interesting cat, a twentysix-year-old from south carolina that's been up here for four years at grad school who knows a butt-load of music from the 70s, stuff like groundhogs, quicksilver and budgie - whoa. I hear him talking to my guys while the mask is down and konk comes to take me. if I wasn't so beat, I could listen to him spiel 'pert-near forever but konk will not let that happen. I'm out.

thursday, may 8 - cambridge, ma

from watt:

   pop and don't need to hose off cuz I did that last night. I do go outside and hoof. gray skies but no rain for now. damn, where's spring? I hoof back into the center of town since we stayed not too far away. there's a moroccan chow pad that's open for breakfast so I have an omelette that has sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. I only found about sun-dried tomatoes a few years ago on tour w/j and have to come to dig them much - quite so - some of the tastiest things I've ever had in my mouth. I don't know why it took so long for me to come around to them but so it goes. I don't eat them all that much (don't know where to find them in pedro) but I love it when I get a chance to chow them. they're great here, the way they got cooked in. this puts many sensations into my head and takes me elsewhere for a pit. there's a beat-up magazine from morocco show their big towns and the architecture contained in each. very geometric designs that mesmerize - interesting stuff: merekesh, fez and casablanca. I hoof back and some sprinkles start coming down, oh oh.

   I get back to daniel's pad and he's up so we start talking. he's a writer and gives me the manuscript to this novel he's written called "wreckage forever" and I can't wait to find time to read it. very interesting cat, this daniel. he's had enough time here and wants to move to new orleans so maybe that's where I'll see him again. safe seas to you, brother. I put week five of the diaries up on the hoot page and then us pedro guys get in the boat and we're off. pete's at the wheel this time and the rain starts coming down, reminding me of a dreary day during february or something back in so cal. pete drives good though and we make it down the richie blackmoore road (mass pike) east to cambridge around three in the afternoon. I have to say that ever since richmond, no drive has been over two hours and that's very happening for us. me and d. boon used to think about being a new england band and having such short hops here between the big towns. then we thought about winter (ice/snow), then summer (sweaty humid) and decided maybe cali's better even w/the hellrides. fall and spring are mostly nice out here though. I have to say the winters can be very pretty, even if not so conducive to road safety.

   we're playing t.t. the bear's, a pad I've played lots of my last tours for the boston area and I dig it much. one lame thing though is the parking and you have to get here early to stake a good place out front - there's really only two spaces cuz the rest are for taxis later on. I spy a cat ready to bail in his pickup and send jer over to save the space when he's gone while I bring the boat around cuz of the one-way shit w/the streets around here. by the time I get her about, pete's waving me off in the alley - seems some major asshole pulled a real dickhead move. jer had the space saved and this prick drives his bronco right up on him, pushing him out of the way - almost running him over. jer hollers at him but the guy says, "you're no fucking car." I stop the boat behind him and get out and ask him how long is he gonna be here and he says, "five hours." I say that the parking sign says two so maybe I should make sure he gets a ticket. his reply is "eat my balls" - wow, pretty butch of mister fancy pants here. I bet he's sad I won't indulge his fantasy. he dearly deserves himself and I don't need any part of it - bye, asshole. some cat on the street asks jer what happened and when jer tells him, he says, "that ain't right." absolutely. this can get you feeling kind of cynical of your fellow human but instead of escalating things, I tell my guys to ease up and I'll just park a few blocks away and come back around later. I chimp diary in back of a mcpucks 'till four comes around cuz the meters stop at six. I find a spot about half a block back and then when opens in front of this asshole's ride, I shoehorn the boat in there. we unload the gear and jer takes one of our piss bottles and anoints this guy's front license plate - maybe there's enough pheromone to attract a moose charge or something. we do a soundcheck w/soundman jay who's cool people. love to work w/folks w/out the attitude, love it.

   maura and hilken, the two ladies of punk rock aerobics (http://www.punkrockaerobics.com), come to visit me and give me a cd of the just recorded mission of burma version of the dils' "class war" that's going on their punk rock aerobics soundtrack record. they want me to do a track for it and I will when tour's done. I'm thinking of a song by the stranglers since they used an organ and their songs are kind of mid-tempo. really quick tunes are hard to keep up w/during a whole routine of workout. I only have the first couple of stranglers albums (w/lots of those early punk bands from england that got kind of big quick, I only liked their first ones cuz the later ones got too mersh for me). maura and hilken ask me to go to chow but I already had a falafel and am too tired anyway. spieling a bunch before a gig really takes a lot out of me, especially in this weakened state since the stooges reunion thing. much respect to them though. robin, the cookie lady, brings some store bought cookies instead of the ones she usually bakes at home. she's always very sweet about this. big hugs. I say hi to the booker lady randi who's lost a bunch of weight - she got one of those staple things on her stomach ("like carney wilson" she says). I'm very happy for her. I go to the boat and konk hard.

   I miss the opening bands, a local one that opened for me last year called runner and the thermodynamics plus a cincinatti band called the greenhornes but I did talk w/the local one at soundcheck. I was embarrassed to find out I had forgotten their name but I did remember their sound - they had a big, wild bass thing going - a pumping power trio. from what I heard of the other cats, they're like part of the 60s-style garage thing that's been going on - we had something like it in the 80s in l.a. that was called the "paisley underground." when pete comes to get me for our gig, he says he really dug the bass player in this band but wondered why they were so stationary on stage. it's pretty cold out and I konked w/two of the indian blankies on. yep, that's right - it's may. almost reminds me of the beginning of this tour in the northwest! when I pop the hatch and leave the boat, guess who's here? clint from burma and kato (he now runs fenway records, which burma puts out stuff on now)! it's great to see them both, wow. I did send out emails to all three burma cats after soundcheck but I figured these were way too late for anyone to get it happening - I just have such little time and my mind gets out of sorts about remembering these things 'till I'm right in the town I'm playing before I think about who might want to come. aahh... I always do the same thing w/carrie in portland. clint helps me w/the shirts, what a bass brother! I wish I would've had the chance to spiel w/him before. kato too. what a geriatric I'm getting to be!

   I'm wearing the flannel this young man's ma gave me here last year at the end of the gig. by some stroke of luck, I've been able to keep hold of this john coltrane pin that strider gave me back in baltimore too. we start the gig things go good - folks in this town have always been so supportive - and then in like the fifth tune, I break the 'e' string - the 'e' string, the biggest one on the bass (the biggest one in my life!)... damn, I knew I should've changed strings after breaking that 'd' string last night (another big string in my life). what an idiot, watt. anyway, it gives me a chance to spiel a little while I change it fast. we're back and it seems like jer's losing it a little bit - like he's faint or something cuz it's hard for him to keep his head up and give me some looks. I hope he's ok. as the gig goes on, I get a little weaker in the area where I'm weakest, it seems the notes where I have to really hit hardest w/my voice, pull on me the most. damn. pete's doing great for us so me and jer lean on him a bunch this gig. good job, pete. when we get done, the folks have us back and we do "little doll" w/"fun house" plus the two I li'l pit ones and finally television's "little johnny jewel" cuz I remember playing here w/nels (last tour of the opera w/the balck gang crew) and tom verlaine playing solo downstairs. nels went down and told him we did that tune and nels said he couldn't believe it.

   lots of kindness from the crowd as I sling. one cat wants to take a picture w/me and him w/us holding a sign saying "congrats matt and liz" for their wedding. I ask him if I can be liz and he says ok. there's some birthday boys too - one bought a bass from a guy that I signed at a gig some time ago. that's a trip. I'm glad basses get worked, even if they're signed and not just sit doing nothing cuz that would be terrible. it's getting hard for me to stand so I sit on the stage and sling/rap. lots of cat's from warren, ri are here, including old friend mark - friends of town councilman joe depasquale - he couldn't come cuz of his new baby, dominic. we'll see him tomorrow in providence. the rain's coming down again so it's nice to have them help us load out. the owner bonnie doesn't come out to many shows now so I tell randi to tell her hi for me and we're on our way.

   ray's invited us to konk at his pad in allston so his room mate pete rides w/us in the boat. let me tell you about the parking thing in most of boston: there 'pert-near ain't any. what I've had explained to me is the town's roads were based on cow paths so what you have is one tangle mess of tiny roads and dense living arrangements w/out planned parking. this makes for a nightmare trying to find a space. we let pete and jer out by the pad since they got the big girly bags for their outfits. me and pete (the massachusetts one) get a ride from ray after finally finding a place almost a mile away. ray's still feeling weird about last year when he forgot where the pad was and we hoofed for almost an hour, wandering. I told him that it was ok, things happen (he had just moved in) but he wants to make up for that. he drops us off cuz he's konking w/his girlfriend to make more room for us. thanks for everything, ray. the pad here is a giant old one and we're in the front area. jer feels a sickness coming on so after a little spiel, we're all out pretty quick. so goes the most eastern gig of our tour. next time I gotta go more east though cuz there were cats who drove down from maine and it's been a while since I played there. oh boy, is the u.s. a big land or what? I dearly wish I could fit every town into one big hellride. that's something to dream about...

friday, may 9 - providence, ri

from watt:

   pop and immediately get dressed to go get the boat. just before konking last night, pete was kind of worried cuz he left his 'puter in the boat. this 'puter of pete's (an apple g4 tibook) is gonna be the heart of his digi002 pro tools studio and he had me front him part of his monies for this tour before we even left pedro so he could get it. cuz of this, I make the hoof to the boat and cuz I saw a spot open up from someone going to work, I put the boat right in front of where we're staying and bring pete's 'puter up into the pad. it's a relief on my conscious and I know pete will be relieved when he wakes. I like making my guys happy cuz they do so much for me. I go and hose off and then go to the corner for some coff. I find a laundromat next door which is good news for pete cuz he was too busy visiting w/his organ friends in albany (plus repairing the e3 key on his hammond) to do wash like me and jer did. pete (the massachusetts one) pops and makes me up a tasty omelette and bagel. he gives me some recordings of his band, the peasants. I like getting music from folks at the gigs cuz I like that as the core to my watt from pedro radio show (http://twfps.com).

   I have a live radio interview w/a station in burlington, vt so I go where I got that coff and use the pay phone to talk w/them. there's two people talking to me and one is the guy who's opening for us when we play their town on saturday. he keeps trying to nail for things like being mersh cuz I make records for columbia or how when he was younger, he didn't think the minutemen were punk, things like this that I usually get asked by people embittered by their "musical experience." every challenge he puts to me (and I do me "challenge" cuz it's not like he's just asking questions), I address the "issue" he's asking me to "defend" in simple ways I'm hoping he can understand. a lot of this seems like for his benefit which is kind of strange since this is going over the air for everyone to hear. I kind of bring him around from time to time but he keeps falling back into his "adversary" butch mode. I get him to admit that maybe he wasn't there for the 70s kind of punk where there was a lot of variety w/styles - he cam along later w/hardcore so maybe this says a lot about what he thought punk was. I run into this all the time, people from hardcore days (not that I have anything about that style of punk but in my opinion, it's not the only sound of the punk movement - far from it) or even younger folks now trying to say punk should have a certain style that goes along w/the hardcore stylings of the 80s. that's a problem for them and not for me cuz our whole take on punk was that each band was supposed to come up w/their own sound anyway, not xerox a boilerplate thing from some cookie-cutter template (not that this was only done w/hardcore cuz it's the same w/pop, alternative or what they call "nu metal" today - anything that fits a formula). he does say he gets it more now that he's older - maybe this guy is just trying to be provocative w/me. as for me being mersh cuz I've made records for columbia, c'mon... what a red herring. I hope things are different when I meet this guy in person. it sounds like he's trying to say I have this one image for people to "consume" and then this "real watt" who's a primping rock industry puppet. it's comical but I indulge him. he asks about my ideas why radio is the way it is and when I start talking about that, the line goes dead. when I call back, they say I ran out of time (I was using a calling card), oh well. I wish the dj would've talked to me more but he seem afraid too but in his own way. you don't have to be afraid of watt w/spiel cuz I'm very glad when people are generous enough to have me aboard and air my thoughts. I don't get defensive, really - I try to have fun w/things and still attempt to communicate what I think describes what I'm trying to do, where I'm at now and where I come from if they're interested. when this guy who's gonna be playing w/us asks me what can we do about commercial forces trying to strangle us, I tell him what farmers say about growing a good crop - use a lot of manure. he asks if I'm full of manure - whoa, what a comedian - I am no match for the razor wit be wielded on me here. I say I hope he grow something off his experience w/me... I listen to this story he tells about playing some of his music for his family and them - especially his father - thinking something is wrong w/me. I tell him I can identify w/that. he gives the phone back to the dj and that guy tells me he doesn't know why he was handed the phone. I suggest to him that maybe it's to say bye and so that's what I tell him myself.

   pete (my pete) gets his was done while pete (the massachusetts one) talks to me about things w/the state of world affairs today. I'm all ears cuz he's got some interesting points - maybe it's being in-person that can make things easier to relate than over the phone. maybe not having a chip on your shoulder can help too. maybe seeing someone's eyes or watching the way they move their hands. some people can completely hypnotize me w/their manner of conveying things. pete here is engaged much in kitchen activity so it's his words I'm listening to, the information. man, the dilemma of humans trying to relate to each other! pete here though is doing a good job w/me and I don't feel threatened but rather inspired to think about different things. thanks, pete. I go to check on my organ player pete cuz this pete has to go to work. I have my camera w/me and see this tree filled w/these righteous blossoms. the mass pete passes me in his car on his way to work and kids me, "haven't you seen a tree before?" I turn around, a little red in the face and thank him for all the hospitality and he says he'll see me again next tour here.

   I ask jer to drive and we take commonweath avenue all the way to I-95, quite a few miles but it gets us there and were on our way to rhode island. it's only like an hour or so and we're in providence. the club we're playing is the met cafe, where I've been many times and it's in the old downtown, which is completely plugged for parking. we find a lot and my guys go out to forge for chow. I find this cuban place and have "the fidel" - a pork sandwich w/black rice and beans. I go to the club and find it open w/a lady named paula working there. she says she'll put out cones when a space opens and sure enough, I'm able to bring the boat about and shoehorn into a slot right in front of the pad. great. the weather's gray but at least not raining like yesterday. paula talks to me about the days when I was a younger punk rocker and I tell her about glam and glitter and the stuff that attracted me to punk in the 70s. I look at the schedule of up-coming bands and ask her what some of them sound like cuz I've heard some of their names but don't know really what they sound like. she's got some interesting perspectives, insights from someone younger yet aware and critical (but not harsh). what I found inspiring for me in my younger days was provocative stuff, maybe not so aggressive but kind of outrageous compared to my navy housing upbringing and then pedro harbor town life. I didn't like things that were easy to predict or safe inside of forms - I liked getting my mind blown. still do and I still try to keep that same "child's eye" (the way perry explained it to me) w/me to keep myself ripe for that. even a lot of today's so-called "aggressive" music is pretty tame in an artistically challenging sense, like a movie full of explosions and killings. form is not enough, I want more. I want shit to go off - like w/john coltrane, the stooges, roky erickson or syd barrett to name just a couple. it's different for everyone though, it's not for me to decide for anyone but watt. funny how in the name of being liberated, one can get pretty prejudiced. that's why I treasure people in my life who can teach me things by opening up my mind and helping me think in different ways. talking here about myself is kind of like w/the radio thing this morning but much not the same in lots of ways too cuz paula here does not come off insecure and defensive. what's maybe similar is watt talking about watt - it gets me feeling kind of self-absorbed and it's embarrassing. I have to excuse myself after a bit cuz it's making me self-conscious. maybe too many spiels is making me a bad listener?! I do think I'm better than I used to be. I know I'm much more aware of what's actually flying out of my mouth - one reason I don't use the phone much any more! email suits me better in these days. damn, I got so self-involved in spieling, I forgot to say hi to jesse, who's always been the nicest cat to me here. I apologize to him and then go to the boat to chimp diary 'till jer comes to get me for soundcheck.

   soundman dan does a check w/us and we try "this ain't no picnic" which was a d. boon song the minutemen did. pete's been talking about this all tour and we're finally gonna do it w/him only having four gigs w/us left - what's that about? better late than never I guess, huh? I love that tune though - love d. boon's songs. after check, I walk around the parts w/the government buildings (this is rhode island's capitol) and there's this trailer/kitchen that's always parked downtown cafe w/"the haven brothers - since 1888" painted on it and I get a cup of kidney beans from them. I have kind of depressing feelings welling in me now, the kind that only seem to tone down after thinking/hoofing. I get the fear of playing lame after talking about myself earlier in the day, like some kind of karma dynamic - a lesson of life to humble me. I want to play good and do my best. I think about all the lame things about me to counteract any conceit that might be trying to harbor in me. I think about the reaction some people have of me - people that really know me - when I'm physically in their presence. it's quite humbling but I think it's a good antidote for where I'm at now. I go to the boat and konk - sad kind of but mercifully fast and hard.

   I'm roused awake by who? joe depasquale - the man, himself. wow, that's a trip. I want to play really good for joe. I'm excited to go at it now. I missed both openers which were the greenhornes again (same as last night - I did talk w/the bass cat a little bit while setting up but he seemed kind of shy. I was trying to relate that 80s thing in l.a. we had that looked on the garage band days of the 60s too. I probably sounded like an idiot to him though, stumbling on my words) and saturday night palsy which was a local band w/this cat eric in their band. eric had me and my guys (maybe the pair of pliers?) stay w/him before and I'm sorry I missed seeing him play but I was too tired (too much to think). joe helps me w/the sling sack - thanks, joe. I changed the 'a' and 'g' strings at soundcheck so odds are good I won't have reruns of what went down the last two nights w/stalling the gig's momentum w/string changing. the set goes good but there's weird sound problems, like w/pete's organ feeding back through the system and both him and jer having no singing in the monitors. I keep looking for dan at the mixing desk but it's hard w/the lights in my eyes. jer's kind of sick too so I know things are tough for him - no monitors must make it really lame. I don't want to break the gig's flow though cuz there's a great spirit w/lots of folks but I can tell too that maybe the sound isn't what it should be. I'm not trying to lay anything on dan but there comes a point where I look over at the door - the doors here are glass - and I can see him out on the street! what's that about? too much, almost comical - the soundman outside the club, on the sidewalk! I gotta laugh. we do an encore of a bunch songs, ending w/"this ain't no picnic." pete and jer do realy good on it.

   I thank everyone and sling. many, many nice things from people - much respect to everyone. a lady my age gives me a button that says "wishing well." I've played a song on my radio show by that band. there's birthdays like last night where they want good wishes from me for their friends. one cat named mark says he has three little ones at home but his wife let's him come see watt when I come around. it's all for touching for me, reasons to give further of myself on this journey onward. me, someone w/so many doubts about myself and what worth does any of me hold for anyone - I need to get myself together so much more. what I mean is living up to these kind of standards I feel from folks who are so open-hearted w/me. my guys, pete and jer - beautiful souls too, I almost want to dissolve into something that could be used in an engine or something a be practical/useful... I so much sometimes want to lose my sense of self.

   the man who was taking the money at the door hollers to everyone to get out. he pays me w/I don't know, maybe five or six words. people like jesse and paula, so much different than this guy... and they're gone already... the world filled w/all different kinds of us, different at different times w/different situations. I guess I don't rate much in his book and that's humbling, that's a dose of reality I need somehow. maybe I don't want to know everything he thinks about me, maybe he wanted my gig done an hour before. jer can't get a bottle of water cuz the door's slammed on him and this guy takes off in his car - pronto. fare thee well...

   anyway, we got mark in the boat w/us and we're heading for warren to konk at his pad. I ask him about this scene thurston's told me about that was around somewhere called fort thunder w/bands like lightning bolt and arab on radar. he tells us about it being really wild and still going on - something to do w/a label called load but the fort thunder place got tore down for condos. I get curious about underground things like that, it excites me - people making their own history live in the moment. mark's quite an interesting cat and he has lots to share w/us. I can't find my jimbo mask and use my bravo - the one tasha gave me. mark doesn't smoke but he gives me and pete some mota a buddy gave him cuz he knows about how it can help w/some wind-down. thanks, mark. I didn't get that sore after this gig where I'm weakest like last night but I'm sore where I usually get, in the joints and feel much spent emotionally too. I had some hard thinks today. konk is a blessed relief.

saturday, may 10 - winooski, vt

from watt:

   pop early and find the bravo (plan 'b') mask still on my head in it's functional position. this is kind of unusual for this tour cuz most mornings I pop w/the thing either down around my neck or somewhere away from me, like on the deck on stuffed in a couch cushion. that's w/the kind one jimbo gave me too - it has a thick velcro fastening strap w/this one tasha gave me has just a thin band of elastic. maybe I had calm dreams - I know I had an intense one before the gig last night at the met cafe. it was like one of those old episodes of gumby (the claymation series) where there's these bees that crate things up when they're let out of their cage. they crate up anything in their path using a hammer along w/nails and timber that appear out of nowhere. in this dream I had, a familiar face but an intense one that is very serious keeps appearing and keeps putting up boards w/a hammer and nails but it's not a whole crate worth, just like one side of one and it's facing me. no matter where I turn, these boards keep getting nailed up in front of me to stop my progress or keep out - even block my view... I can't really figure the dream out cuz it's abstract and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. the boards and nails never touch me but that doesn't stop me from keeping my hands up in front of my face for protection. I can't figure out who it is either and this bugs me almost just as much. I told my guys about it last night before konking and I'm thinking about it again now. I know I wasn't trying to pursue anyone, I was instead trying to avoid all this but in a weird way, I did feel responsible - like I had started the mess in the first place and now was having to deal w/the consequences. I guess it was like a karmic dream and a result somehow of cause and effect. pete's konked on the deck next to me as I sit on the couch and ponder this out. I stuff my bag in it's sack and still can't figure an answer.

   I go to the head to hose off and notice mark's got to electric razors on the deck, their cords plugged into the wall. I've always used razors and shaving cream but what the hell, I'll try one of them. they both have three little disks on them where the razor are like little rotors. I choose one of them by random and start rubbing it on my face. much different than dragging a razor across your skin... it doesn't feel like it's cutting as close and another thing that's different is that your face is dry. beard does come off though if I keep rubbing around where it is. trippy. I hose off when it feels like I've done all I can do... I think I like shaving cream and a razor better.

   I hoof outside, down the road to the highway where's there's somewhere selling coffee. the sun is out bright and it's beautiful weather here this morning - love it. pretty flowers in front of some of the pads I pass - tulips! very nice. there's no sidewalks but grass and soft earth for my feet so that's kind of easier on my knees. I'm getting to have so many frailties! can let it overwhelm me, though - just have to find better ways to manage it. life deals you a hand... to stop and even think of it a bit honestly would make one realize how much worse things could really be. I hoof back and mark's getting up. I chimp diary to my guys rise and then joe d and his boy, sonny, come to take us for breakfast chow.

   I have eggs and curisco (an italian version of mexican churizo we have in our parts) and it's good eats. sonny takes a lot after his pop, who has much character. last night we found out joe's a drummer - whoa! he's had several bands w/mark. it would be something to see councilman joe depasquale on the trap set! after chow, the councilman takes us by the water here in warren - part of an inlet that eventually leads to the atlantic ocean. we see the thirtyfoot charter boat he's got as a project for the next decade. it's out of the water and the hull's in good shape cuz it's fiberglass but all of the topsides are mahogany and it's gonna take much work. the diesel motor looks happening though. this area where the boat is has been a project in itself for joe. there were developers coming in to make condos and bumrush the whole waterfront but he got together w/some preservation people and they got land parcels bought up and donated to secure public access to the water and artist spaces. I think of the town next to pedro where we live, it's called wilmington (the area between us and long beach) and they have zero public access to the water even though the slogan on the signs is "wilmington, heart of the harbor." it's all blighted industrialized crap and such a shame. this town here warren has much, much history. after joe introduces us to an artist friend of his and her work, we visit this pad called the maxwell house that was built in 1755. in it, there was found a boat scaleboard - something used by boat builders hundreds of years ago to use as draughts or plans. not many exist. there's some folks from the historical society in town here and they explain us stuff about how the past was here, how warren was w/the first settlers and then w/the revolution. quite interesting. it makes me want to know even more about my town, it puts an hankering in me. trippy how joe knows so many of the folks here - he's quite a people person. he orders up a pizza for us to take w/peppercinis and curisco. mark's gonna come to anaheim for his job so I ask him if I can give him a tour of pedro when he's there next month. I hope some day joe can come to my side of the water too.

   onward to our first bigger drive in a while, a four hour one to vermont. first north on I-95, around boston and then through new hampshire on I-93 and then to winooski on I-89. whoa, four states in four hours - that's new england for you! such a late spring, many of the trees that have all the orange, red and yellow of fall are still w/out the green leaves the have this time of year. much pretty granite in new hampshire/vermont though. we heard the "old man of new hampshire" crumbled and fell, damn. he's part of the symbol that new hamphire uses to signify their state roads on the signs. we were told by mark that some politician there wants to rebuild it! the farmer who has the land it's on says he'll get about a year's worth of getting people to come visit "the place where the old man was," according to mark. even stone cumbles, I don't feel so alone in my vulnerableness.

   we get into burlington and I hip jer to the fact the club is actually across the river and in winooski. steve kaul, the man outside the van and who's very dear to me - he's booked so many tours and always has been the best to me - sometimes has infos that aren't thought about by the people supplying them and we sometimes get the bum steer. this is something more apparent to those inside the van and not outside it! the lame thing is jer told his ma we're on main street in burlington istead of main street in winooski. I know this cuz I played here before w/j mascis + the fog - in fact, it was my first gig w/him in that capacity. jer's ma is smart though and hopefully will figure it out - these towns aren't too big - though they're big for vermont! the club is right across the winooski river which has some old mills and pretty falls. the pad is called higher ground and look at this: in a couple days they're gonna be playing a movie here called "rising low" w/a q and a by the maker, mike gordon and warren haynes, who w/matt abbts is gov't mule. the movie is about the making of this album they did w/a different bass cat for each tune since their bassist, allan woody, suddenly died. there were some heavy folks doing the bass like john entwistle, jack bruce, bootsy collins, larry graham, george porter - cats like that and friends too like flea and les claypool. I was quite honored to be asked. we did a cover of a creedence tune, "effigy" - one I always dug much. I've never seen this film but remember mike doing the spiel w/me and filming it. he asked me about "wrestling the bass" and "the flipper" technique I'm trying to get going w/the right hand where I'm trying to play all the fingers like they were one big flipper. I talk w/the boss matt about it and he says it might seem weird but showing a movie w/a q and a is kind of like a gig. wish I was here to say hi to warren again (mike too). he asked me to come to new orleans during the jazz fest at the beginning of this month cuz he was trying to get as many of the bassists that played on the record to be at one special gig but I'd already taken time off of this tour for the stooges reunion thing and couldn't leave my guys (pete and jer) again. it would've been neat though if I had the time. it made me sort of sad to have to tell warren I couldn't be there.

   this lady named kelly wrote me before tour and said she wanted to cook us some chow and she comes to the club after soundcheck w/some etouffe-style dinner. it's really good, lots of baby potatoes, crawfish, shrimps, lemon and onion - mmmm... thanks much, kelly. other good news is jer's ma made it. her boyfriend chuck is w/her. this is the third time she's seen her boy play w/me on tour. I tell her it's gonna be sad not being able to tour w/him anymore but she says it's hard for him to be away from his family. it's a difficult thing to ask people to help w/me w/this life I have and I've never expected anyone to drop everything to adopt it. finding good people to play and tour w/is a very fortunate gift and nothing I've never taken for granted. jer says maybe he can tour w/me in the future when he gets things more together w/his longshoring situation.

   I meet that guy that was on the radio w/me yesterday morning when I called from allston. his name is james and I was kind of right about guessing he might be different in person. he isn't combative at all though his band won't be still a little bit so we can talk. he's very nice to me and I ask him if he thinks I really am like a rock star or something. we both laugh about that. we all can get so confused by assumptions and predisposed thinking. I see his band do soundcheck and his songs are pretty funny. there's another band from maine called paranoid social club that are on the bill too and they're very nice cats. I talk w/them for a while and then go to the boat to chimp diary.

   I chimp the last days entry but then konk real hard, waking w/a shake from pete on the leg. I missed both of the openers. we did our gig and it's kind of scary - good monitors and everything but the vibe is almost like a recital. I think a lot of that's in my head though cuz the folks are very responsive. I think I'm a little occupied too w/how bad my amp's sounding, oh boy. hope I can make the next week of gigs! the trouble I've been having w/amps on tour lately - I really gotta do something about that. jer's still sick and I know the gigs hard for him but I also know he wants to play good for us ma - not that he doesn't try his hardest every night but I know he's got extra burden w/the sickness bug inside him now. jer does fine, pete too (his last u.s. gig for this tour) and I think the gig's ok even if I got a little self-conscious, especially at first. for some reason, I'm much more relaxed for the encores. at the end, the folks are very nice. terry bradshaw once again says hi - I forgot to mention him when after soundcheck I talked w/him a little while I took some snaps of a beautiful vermont sunset. terry's good people. I get a cake from this cat who remarkably looks like a young grant hart in a way. james, the guy from the first band, is also an artist and gives me a comic book he's done. that was very sweet of him. his friends tell me he usually gets naked at his gigs but I was told this didn't happen tonight. he does tell me one of the characters in the comic book represents him. this lady gives me a note from syd straw saying she was sorry she couldn't make the gig. she had me play some songs w/her at a gig she did in l.a. a couple weeks before this tour and told me she lived in vermont now, on the farm her pop had. he died in her arms from cancer, so very sad.

   since we're in canada for the next two gigs, we box what sling shit is left and give it to jer's ma for her to mail me when I'm back in pedro. that's very kind of her - big good byes and thanks. then we follow kelly to her pad not too far away and some young guys come by to talk, one of them the cake man who looks kind of like grant. we talk maybe an hour, they're very nice people. they all tell me how hard this later winter was, oh boy. we are so spoiled in pedro. there's beauty here in this world here though, despite other parts that can be tough. when I just can't spiel anymore and they bail, I lie still w/the mask on, still being able to hear the sound of the water rushing down the winooski river. I love hearing water make it's sound, telling you it's alive. I think about the time when I played here w/j and I took a bike into burlington and found umberto eco's "the island from the day before." it wasn't my first copy but I bought it again in an attempt to explain myself to someone where my words come so very short. there's weird parallels in that book that describe me and the way I am sort of inside. trippy how that can be. the trouble was I still made things confusing cuz what I see in that story has to be explained but I just didn't want to foul it up w/my words so I kind of left it to still be investigated. as konk comes on me, I think about how clumsy I am in the moment and what a sliver of time it becomes compared to the countless thoughts that follow it w/me in my lonesome. life is not a rehearsal - I've told myself that many times (even have a minutemen song called that) but how many times is it a sure thing that I'm gonna fuck things up come the curtain call? countless.

sunday, may 11 - montreal, quebec, canada

from watt:

   pop and hose off - the soap's liquid stuff in a bottle that smells like fruit. trippy. outside the window, what an invite w/the weather. I am smitten and sally forth. clean vermont air deep inside watt's lungs - feels good. back down to the river and the roar of the water. I walk around the old mills. one was for textiles and there's been some kind of installation put up in part of it. all these outfits from a couple of centuries ago are hung up by wires from the ceiling like there were bodies inside them and they're dancing in couples. looking in through the windows, it's mesmerizing on me, like I'm caught up in their swirling dance. there's a whole swarm of them, in a big oval, swaying in the air - I see faces of people in my life in the empty fullness (the clothes are filled out like there were bodies in them), their hands and their fingers. it's quite surreal for me, especially w/the rush and roar of the river. further down, the water comes across a straight drop that empties into granite forms, cut by nature. I go up from the banks and there by the bridge is a swinging bench. you sit on this bench and then w/your feet, you can rock yourself by pushing up and down on the foot rest which is hinged and leveraged to make it work that way. I feel I am timeless, of no time - no 45 year old-ness, no 2003-ness but calm to make feel only moment. usually it's hurt to really make me feel the moment but in this case it's so much more the opposite. after a while, I realize it's sunday and that's the day I eat chow w/my ma or if I'm on tour, give her a call. more than that, I realize it's mother's day and who's son I am.

   I go back to kelly's pad and call my ma. she's sounding healthier but I can still hear some weakness left from that sickness she had. she says I sound better to but again, she hears a little weakness still in me. it's good to talk w/my ma, I'm so glad she made it through that sickness cuz it had me plenty worried. I know I make her the same way and I very much hate doing that to her. my ma has always gotten upset when I'm sick, she hates it when I'm that way. I think it's her way of dealing w/worry. I wish I could be stronger for my ma, like w/so many others in my life - including folks I hardly even know, the cats who come to pay and see a gig even. across the board, I wish I could summon more personal courage/strength. I think I look for it others when I know the reality it's my responsibility and none of it should be laid on others. kelly goes to get coff and pick up her son norman. this little cat is something else. he's just five years old but has tons on the ball. kelly has me try these trippy little twisted-up ferns called "fiddle heads" that grow around here and go for eight dollars a pound - whoa! but they are good. norman shares his bowl of strawberries w/me. he's really remarkable in the way he can express himself and conceptualize/understand things. maybe I'm not around little ones much but he really surprises me. he talks about when he was a seed inside his ma, before he was born - whoa! he's a very articulate young man and impresses me much. I like the way he calls me "mister mike." his ma (kelly) must keep him flowed w/knowledge. how many kids do I see "babysat" w/the television and then how they jones when it's not on? is it crazy not to look at the parents? and thank god most ma's have a connect w/their kids that some guys just can't figure out. I'm not saying this about all pops but how many flakes are just tossing seeds and not helping w/the raising. I guess it's easy for me, someone who's never tried to raise a family, to point this shit out but in the boat here, two pops (pete and jer) tell me pretty much the same thing so I don't think I'm totally off the mark and in the stratosphere. this little norman just made quite an impression on me and got my head to thinking about this stuff. much credit to his ma (who's a single one) on this day for mas for contributing to his future. who's the next nikolai tesla, the next woody guthrie, the next emma goldman? mother's day has me thinking about kids and what makes them who they are.

   time to roll north for canada, good bye kelly and norman - safe seas and the best of luck w/everything. we take I-89 to the border and I register the equipment on the u.s. side and that's real quick. then we do immigration on the canadian side. it takes them an hour and a half but there's no trouble and the officers there are very nice. we had to get work permits again cuz the one for british columbia (vancouver) couldn't last that long (funny, they usually do if you get them out here in the east first - like on a counter-clockwise tour). the weather's turned totally gray and as we come up on montreal (I've been at the wheel cuz of the border thing - my first time in many days driving this long), the rain starts coming down like it was very much not may. jer guides me in w/the map good (the software atlas is for u.s. roads only - aaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhh) and we get to the town by four. we're 'pert-near to the venue when this guy is parallel parking while we try to pass - he jams out, waves me on and they proceeds to gouge a huge a crease in his car from the car that was parked in front and then he looks me right in the eye as he's doing it, as if to say "yep, that was me!"). luckily, we spared any hurt. we make it safe to the pad. it's la sala rosa, a pad I played four months ago for my book ("spiels of a minuteman") launch thing and has something to do w/the god speed ye black emperor people (thank you, mauro), a great band from here in montreal. they also have a cafe across the street called casa de pollo. there's two bands opening up - one's crackpot, which is from here and has guys who played minutemen/stooges stuff w/me when I was here in january and the other's from new jersey and they're called dalek (though they didn't know about the doctor who connection - it was more a corruption of the word "dialect"). the cats from both bands are very nice to me and sure is great to be sharing the stage w/all of them. there's a couple flights of stairs to this pad, part of it's a social club for immigrants from spain and it kind of a hell to get the stuff up but there's lots of hands to help out. I say hi to dan webster, the promoter who's been doing my show for years in montreal - he's got his second baby coming in october, congrats to him and his girl! sylvain is doing the sound (he played w/me at the book launch too) and we do a quick soundcheck w/him. chapu, the cat who put out my book arrives and we go to casa de pollo so I can chow.

   I have a sandwich w/artichokes, lettuce, tomatoes and some kind of soft cheese - I stuff it w/this chips and it's trippy tasting. it's great to see chapu and he wants to know about the illuminati, was there ever such a thing. I tell him what I know about adam weishaupt and may 1, 1776 - the day it was founded. his plan was to infiltrate freemasons and put the kabosh on priests and kings. part of the age of reason trend that also resulted in the u.s. and french revolutions. it starts to get like that talk w/kirsha's architect friend prisca in new orleans though chapu know about more current underground things like situationists. I explain my whole take on "above" and "under" ground and the different traditions, going back to egyptian and greek cult of mysteries. the connectedness of things (trying to mirror what might be much more unconnectedness?) for the sake of understanding, systematizing loose ends - "morals and dogma" style. it can get pretty funny (see the principia discordia). though I can't fathom the mechanism, it is a mindblow when a conspiracy actually hooks up w/history for some moment - oh my, the overthrow of reality w/a concept - how very human and how very temporary and subjective. there are movements though that do have consequence in the most strange cultural sense, even if politically moot. I guess most call this fashion, like they would say art or music is run by fashions. why not then politics too? a fever, a frenzy, a rush and then mostly a resigned quid per quo game of attrition. what part of society provokes dynamics, what part of the mind promotes revolution? how is a life connected to orree of all or any of this? what inspires this goofy motherfucker's (watt) brain? again, I'm confounded by just how is the brain and mind is connected, the collection/order of ideas and the physical processes of biology. the law of fives: for every two things revealed, three are kept hidden.

   an hour and a half of spiel has worn me out and I leave chapu (though I love him dearly) for the boat and some diary. I konk out over the keyboard for almost three hours after chimping some spiel. jer comes and gets me for the gig w/some shakes of my leg. man, it was cold in the boat - I was bundled in blankies and all coated-up like at the beginning of this tour in the northwest. you could hear the rain wailing on the boat loud too. up the stairs and what a difference inside - holy cow, no air at all. I get my bass out of her case and she's sweating from all the humidity. trippy. the montreal cats are always great to play for, always full of spirit. they show their feelings quite easy. pete and jer play great though I got tell the sweatyness is on them hard - especially jer who's still battling sickness. a curtain rod got shaken loose (from the bass maybe?) and comes down on my head - no hurt but kind of a shock cuz I didn't know it was coming. it's a happening gig though quite challenging w/the shvitz-like atmosphere. I can imagine w/the folks in the crowd. for the last tune (the b.o.c. one), we have chris from crackpot join us on guitar. we do "...picnic" for the second time in the encore and "sister ray" once again after many gigs w/out it. no "om om om" or "only you will know" for the first time all tour. pete tells me about this lady who said she wasn't really into organ but then dug it after seeing the gig. how many times in the last two tours have we heard that. I think it's a good thing to blow people's preconceptions. that's yet another thing I dig about this band.

   whoa, is this outfit of mine soaked! same w/pete and jer. I try to hustle us all up though cuz there's been a break in the rain and I'd like to get the equipment in the boat quick while we have a break. we have those stairs again too so it'd be good to have some helping hands that are still around. jesse, a young man I met a few tours ago, helps much and gives me this trippy very-canadian soda called "pine beer" and it tastes totally like pine trees. wild. this lady shows me the tattoo she got on her arm that's of an anchor. she says in the old testament, it means hope. I can dig that. only a few blocks to chapu's pad and we're up his steep stairs soon. we talk a bit about all the spam you get w/checking email - chapu let's us all check ours on his mac - what a shitload of blather your account comes up w/every time these days. we talk a little about the next gig being pete's last for the tour, it makes me sad and I'm going to miss him much. I hate it when people I love have to go away, I don't know if I'll ever really get used to it - even w/all t9he years of experience w/that. I still haven't found the mask jimbo gave me so I have to use the bravo one again. sleepytown now.

monday, may 12 - toronto, ontario, canada

from watt:

   I pop and head outside, straight for the boat. I could've swore I had the walkie-talkie phone and the digicamera in the inside pocket of my yellow coat here and now I'm wondering where they are - were they donated or what? stupid fucking watt - I tell myself this is a lesson to learn something if they're gone. still gray out but not raining... yet. I get to the boat and look what's there on the back seat bench: the walkie-talkie and the digicamera. damn, I'm feeling very humbled now, I think there were parts in me somewhere that wanted to blame someone and pin the tail on the donkey. usually, I take my coat of right by my amp and have it on the stage w/me. last night though, I took it off in the little room next to the stage so of course, the fucked-up part of my mind starts thinking of culprits instead of checking my own stupidness out. this is what I mean by it being a lesson. I thought it might be a lesson about keeping my coat close to me when I play and then when I find myself I realize it's a lesson in not jumping to lameass conclusions. I have to admit I really can be full of it but I have hopes I can improve somehow on stuff I feel is bullshit and I just don't want part of me anymore. there's things like that and here's life teaching me about them more.

   on the way back to chapu's, I go get some bagels at this pad that's cooking them right up - whoa, fresh warmness coming off of them in the bag. when I get back, I chow two of the bagels w/cream cheese I also got and then go back downstairs for some coff - I don't know how chapu makes it here and I see no idiot coffee machine, like I'm used to making. I get cappuccino from a guy named vito at this italian place. I know his name cuz everyone's calling him that. the place has tons of soccer posters - all these italian teams. I never drink cappuccino but he looked so intense w/his work, running the espresso machine and making the steamed milk that I had to try it. kira used to make it for me, way back. I think that's the last time I had it. it's trippy. I get some memories...

   I roust my guys when I get back, chapu too. I don't hose off for some reaon - don't know why cuz that's lame hygiene, big time. whatever, that's what happened. I notice mister thompson (chapu's cat) slept on pete, you know pete must have a great aura (and he's warm too). I have both pete and jer chow the other bagels and then we gotta go. bye bye and much respect to chapu - he gives me some watt books to sling tonight in toronto. we pile into the boat and here comes the rain, oh boy. jer's at the wheel and I orchestrate our departure from le isle de montreal. funny how the highway roads in quebec don't have that silly crown thing on their road numbers but as soon as you hit ontario, there they are. auvoir, quebec. we're west on 401 and it's a fair piece to toronto, maybe six hours. everyone from around here talks about the drive being "boring" but I think it's interesting, kind of northern prairie or something. what's kind of lame is all the rain and gray but jer does good w/the steering. cuz of the "sars" thing (this pneumonia-like disease that started in asia and got into toronto), I'm thinking of not eating any chow so when we pull off for gas (there was a sign saying there was a subway sandwich pad but that was a total taunt), we go to this supermarket where I get a quart of greek salad and almost as much four bean salad. back in the boat, we also chow some of the tins of tuna pete's pop gave us for the tour. funny how we forgot all about that stuff 'till now. it's good w/some of the many habanero sauces we've gotten from folks along the way. we get into town about four and pass this trippy bridge on the don valley parkway, it's got all this weird stuff on its sides. we learn later all that was put up to stop people from jumping off - it's one of the most "popular" suicide bridges in existence. despair, not healthy.

   we're playing the legendary horseshoe tavern, great to see jeff, ryan and the whole crew again. we do a soundcheck w/kip, who's done my sound several times before. also on the bill is dalek again - they're very cool people. after a quick check, I go next door to a book store that's having a big sale and get "last go round - a real western" by ken kesey and ken babbs. looks like a good read. back at the club, I run into this cat named randy who also went to last night's montreal show. he tells me about following a bunch of fIREHOSE gigs many years ago w/his pal ravi (who's since passed away, r.i.p.) and how he still likes seeing what I'm doing w/music. an articulate and observant man who works at an auto plant here, he tells me about balancing his right to an opinion verses getting shit from others and having the workplace being a hell for him. this is a struggle and always and there's never an easy answer. like religion and politics at the annual thanksgiving dinner and people ending up heaving chow at each other and walking out in huffs - and that's supposed to be family! w/dialog intense like that, good skills have to get developed to keep things civil - life is not a tv show but a dynamic, breathing thing, inhale and exhale, listen then spiel, etc... it inspires me much there's cats like randy out there hearing what I do and it makes me do my gigs even that more in the moment w/the intent to keep what I can vital and sincere. this is the tradition d. boon has handed down to me and must not be squandered. thanks much to randy for having me think about that and bring it to the forefront of my mind. I will say it's always back there somewhere but folks making his thoughts live by making them part of their lives is a righteous thing for me. I go to the boat and konk deep but easy, my head kind of soothed after my almost daily doubt bouts earlier before the spiel w/randy.

      jer gets me for the gig - the last one w/pete, makes me sad. pete has brought great things in me musically and has helped me to grow as a person also. he's one great compadre to have on tour, one of the best I've ever had w/me in the boat. he's like steve reed, a man I would trust w/my life. he's a true treasure in my life and I'm so lucky to have him there. I understand totally why what has to happen has to happen and know I'll get through this next phase w/paul - so great jer's here w/me to bridge this transition cuz jer's a great cat too. I'm so lucky in this music world to have folks like this - it's hard to know exactly what I mean unless you were here in the boat w/me - and on stage. music people are not all the same! it's rare to find sympathetic sprits, believe me! this last gig is really a good one for us. there's some little clams but the combination of the very kind and open-hearted toronto folks, good sound by kip and very intense/sensitive/inspired playing by pete and jer make the gig quite memorable for me. I space out on the first line of the first verse of "puked to high heaven" but that's the only time I lose focus and a very happening finale gig for pete. the last song we do together is "this ain't no picnic." I sling the books chapu gave me and all of them go, thank you much. there's a few cats from the montreal gig last night and they say the sound was much better - thank you, kip (not that sylvain wasn't trying but the system he was using had limitations). I see a cat from the fIREHOSE days, harry and he's so surprised I've lost weight the weight I have. damn, I must've been bloating big time back then cuz people who haven't seen me in awhile sometimes display such disbelief in how I am now. so be it, I like being much healthier now - though sickness attacks me - just think how much worse off I'd be against them, oh my god. I rap w/lots of folks about things as they come up to the stage, I will always have strong connects w/the brothers and sisters up here. much respect. a nice man gives me two sacks of "cherry sours" but they're not the red marble-like spheres but gummi representations of two cherries and some leaves, trippy.

   I ask from the stage for a safe place for the boat and space for us to konk and this cat chris offers us his pad - very kind of you, chris. we head on over to his pad which isn't too far away but safe, a neighborhood a block off a main street (college) but the pads have little yards even. toronto is the new york city of canada but there's lots to make it more like a less-total-cement kind of an arrangement. I'm konking in this room w/pete where chris has his books. we get talking about the diaries and I explain how I like to not totally be nailed down w/just the facts of what takes placed each day but to use some of each day's "action" as springboards for thinking and use james joyce's "ulysses" as an example and what do you know, chris has a copy so I ask for it explain what I mean to pete. both pete and jer have heard of this book but aren't familiar w/it's content. I tell them how the book takes place in the span of just one day and there's not all the gets done in terms of things being done but oh, all the thoughts that go down - a torrent! everything sets bloom's head off to thinking about almost anything imaginable (and there's much to be imagined!). pete and jer ask about how one could structure such a book and I tell them about the parallel w/homer's "odyssey" which is another thing they've heard of but don't know from reading it. I tell them the outline of odysseus's journey and the way joyce was inspired. I tell them how I used joyce's book for my "...engine room" opera. lots of stuff connected. what's really righteous is that pete and jer are very interested and want to know, they don't look at any of this stuff as "over their head" or whatever. this means much to me. I think that ideas are in the realm of everyone ready to try and engage them. the whole point of this was to explain why I chimp what I do in my tour spiel, what influences me. as an unexpected result, now pete wants to read both "ulysses" and "the odyssey" - just as soon as he gets "the sand pebbles" read. whoa. jer, on the other hand relates some dreams he's been having w/what he sees are trippy coincidences w/the infos I've just spelt. my guys are the best and I love them. we must give into tiredness so mask down and I konk happy.

read week 5 of the tour diary

read week 7 of the tour diary

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this page created 14 may 03