"the cord that spun its own top" tour 2003 diary - week 7

mike watt + the (sort of)secondmen

shot of watt, jer and paul in 2003

watt - thud staff, spiel
jerry trebotic - drums
paul roessler - organ, singing

(left to right)

steve kaul - the man outside the van

tuedsay, may 13 - hamtramck, mi

from watt:

   pop and hose off, even go down to the boat and get a razor so I can shave cuz we've got a border today. chris is up too and gets some coffee and a bagel going for me. we're gonna leave kind of early so we can make sure pete can make his flight. you never know what delays might be waiting for us on re-entry into "our land" and so I want to buffer our journey w/extra hours. while pete and jer get ready, me and chris have a little talk on u.s./canadian history - the stuff I was taught in school verses the stuff I found out later. we find lots to laugh about, especially the war of 1812 stuff - not people hurting and things like that but what gets spun and then in reaction, un-spun (I will say one needs a curious mind). nothing like a laugh between two neighbors about some old fight way back when. the truth about it shouldn't be distorted, I think cuz the harm that can be incurred fucks shit up in the long term. knowing about past fuck-ups can maybe help w/avoiding ones in the future. what's to be gained by bullshitting about before except gaining a false sense of self-importance? that doesn't help anything. you don't have to come on like a big tough guy to have people want you to come on over and play for them or even visit. they might be able to show you some stuff too cuz of their different perspectives. the same works the other way where you're kind of an ambassador, letting them have a peek at flesh and blood alternatives to television or movie images. it's good for all of us, learning from each other. of course, we're all lamed-out w/some kinds of prejudice but that's a human weakness. it's not just a different land thing either cuz I run into it w/different regions back home, even different parts of your own town! I think fear is at the root of a lot of it and what's the opposite of fearing the unknown but a curiosity about what you don't know? I ask chris about how all this "sars" stuff went down in toronto here and he said there was some scariness when it started, especially around the chinatown parts and some hospitals too but for the most part, it wasn't a total panic or tons of people getting sick. nothing like an opinion from a native! I scare easy about some things too, especially now days w/my health.

   bye and thanks to to chris and in the boat for the u.s. we get out of toronto on the qew (queen elizabeth way) and rain starts on us again. you would hardly think it was spring. jer's at the wheel again. from the qew, we get back on the 401, heading west. after about an hour, jer lets me and pete know he just shit himself. no underwear too cuz he brought only three pair for the whole tour (what the fuck is that about?) so it's time for damage control. still at the wheel, he asks pete to hand him those wet-wipe things in the plastic container and mops up, having pete hold the cup that held his hot chocolate for the soiled wipes. disgusting. it takes him like fifteen or twenty of these things to "get things sorted." jesus christ. just past london (not the england one but here in ontario), we stop for gas w/me taking the wheel for the last hundred miles and the border. I make sure I drive w/the old man foam rubber doughnut under me, no shorts there. as we get near windsor (the boat's motor's called a 351 windsor - econolines are made up here in canada), the sun breaks through and we got cali weather - yes! now here comes the border. we've got our passports this time. there's a huge plug w/the trucks. they're in the middle land and are backed-up for miles and miles. it's about 1:30 in the afternoon and there's not much non-truck traffic at all. however, some asshole w/his truck is bumrushing all his fellow truckers by rolling in our lane - it's amazing how the other drivers are taking it and not getting out of their semis to beat this guys ass into pulp. pete and jer are especially amazed cuz of experience they have on the docks w/lines and trucks. we get to the ambassador bridge, where canada ends and the u.s. starts and this truck finally makes his move and cuts off the rest of his brethren. that's both some fucking nerve and some fucking karma. we're over the bridge and up to the booth to get our shake-down for coming back home. the officer asks who I am after I answer his question about why I was in canada ("to play music") and he says he's never heard of me. well, ok - here's our passports. he asks why doesn't he know who I am, "are you famous or what?" I say I don't know, I just like to play gigs for people. he asks why would I come all this way to play two canadian gigs out here and I tell him it's part of a tour. he wants to know how much I made for the montreal and toronto gigs so I tell him. he hands back the i.d. stuff and says ok, pass on but he doesn't take my equipment registration. I don't want to push things so I drive on. I would've felt better if he'd taken that paper cuz that's what usually happens and I hope there's no hell down the road cuz of it. these situations are so weird for me, I always end up feeling about an inch and a half high after. such trials to get back to "our land," huh? oh well, this one was one of the quickest ordeals ever.

   it's been at least thirteen or something years since I last played hamtramck, the polish part of detroit. it's now got a new group of immigrant folks, from india and from bosnia. we pass this club called paychecks which was where fIREHOSE played. trippy - some memories trickle my way. not far is the pad we're playing tonight and it's called smalls. no one here yet so we go back to where pete saw a laundromat so we can wash clothes. well, pete doesn't have to but I got a bag full of gig-soiled and jer has some cleaning for damn sure. I get a gyro at a chow pad a block away, I chow it on the way back and it tastes good - it's got cucumber suace! back to the wash pad and it's here where chris and mel bring paul roessler from their pad - they picked him up this morning at the airport when he flew in from detroit. chris is taking pete to the airport for his flight home too. thanks much, chris and mel. so sad to say bye to pete, it's hard for to keep emotions inside and be strong. I feel like a big part of this tour world crumble. pete's been so essential and inspiring for me out here, working the towns. he's never jaded, never bored, never ever complaining, always ready to go, always w/an interesting perspective and always ready to give all he's got w/the music - I love pete dearly. it's harder to say bye to him this tour more than the last one, very difficult. going on w/out people dear to me has been some of the hardest lessons of my life and it seems I have to re-learn these over and over. it's very painful for me - there's a huge sense of loss and in it's wake, a gaping hole in my heart and a longing in my spirit. I am fragile this way, watt's not such a crash and burn character w/people he finds special in his life. very difficult, this kind of thing. I will try my best w/paul though. we head back to the club and I get some chicken soup from a older polish cat in a doughnut shop. we do a soundcheck w/soundman chris - he's good people, lots of these folks who've worked w/me at what used to be ritual have always been so kind to me. this soundcheck's a little longer than the one song I usually do so we can work things out a little w/paul. so trippy - him just jumping on board like that to help me out. he's righteous for doing it.

   bob teagan shows up w/the shirts - great to see bob again, another tour constant for me when I'm in detroit. I can't talk much though cuz I just gotta konk - I'm feeling weak. there's a local band called devilphone opening but I miss them cuz of heavy konk. sorry. jer comes and gets me for this scary break-the-water gig w/paul. alright. the new tunes for the sickness piece are ok but we have some problems w/the two madonna ones - he blows through some parts. he's got notes on top of the organ to help him (I call these "crutches") but understand why he might need them. there's problems w/"walkin' the cow" too but he recovers as he did w/the madonna ones. I think paul does pretty good considering the situation. his effort is admirable. the detroit folks are great to play for and for open-hearted. I have to say that this room here at smalls really, really sounds good - so much different than downstairs at saint andrew's and getting the upstairs whatever pounded on you. I'm being as calm as I can so I don't upset paul or over-react to the clams that must come to bringing this thing together. I can imagine what's running through his head! jer does great, he's a great anchor to cement what's flying all about. my amp is hurting kind of bad and the sound is really gnarly w/grindings in its sound - oh boy. we get through this cherry gig ok though and I'm quite proud of both of my guys. maybe the spirit of pete came and helped us out!

   I sling and rap to folks when we're done and there's much kindness. I talk w/a few teachers. I sign a bass that's in about twelve pieces (whoa!). I talk w/a cat who saw me as a minutemen and expresses very well why he like what we were doing then, it makes me think about why I'm so driven to make things happen w/this little bass, makes me think of d. boon. he says he wants me to keep going. there's a cat who says he's waited twenty years to see me, well now! michael lieber, the poet, says hi too. this being detroit, there's lots of talk about the stooges thing from a couple weeks ago. I let on that august 14 might have a gig for folks here in town regarding that - I just got an email telling me to hold that day open. christina says hi - she actually came to that gig in coachella but I was too sick to see anyone. maybe the price I had to be willing to pay to get such an opportunity? that's what my buddy don dalton wrote me. I would gladly pay it again!

   we pack up and follow bob teagan back to his pad in fraser, a suburb. chris and mel, along w/ryan from the watt list arrive too. they got chow - pears and sandwich stuff, grapes too. I chow a pear. bob puts in the tape I love to watch each time I'm here - the gories and then tenko, love it. there's other stuff too but even w/the ear-shattering volume. both the tiredness and the mota chris brought works on me hard to quit the awakened state. I still can't believe we made it through this first gig but paul did good. I konk ok about that.

wednesday, may 14 - cleveland heights, oh

from watt:

   pop and find the tea I guess bob made me last night. I think he asked me if I wanted some and I said ok. it's cold now but at least not spilled so I swallow it down. it's not coff though. it would be good to get some of that so I take the boat to a pad that's got it not too far away. I want to get going and get the sixth week of the diary up. pete wasn't able to get me his chimpings so he's gonna flow those from pedro when he gets a chance. I guess now it'll be watt for a while. I wonder if paul wants to? he's very articulate w/his thoughts and I think he'd produce some great tour spiel. he's got no 'puter w/him but maybe he can write longhand and I can chimp it in for him. I'm having some problems w/the barbie purse. I can't use the battery at all cuz of the little battery on the barbie purse that holds the date and stuff like that when it's off (not the big main one that jimbo just gave me to replace the burned-out one) is done and needs to be replaced. I can't reset the powermanager and get the main battery to charge, damn. I have to always use the a.c. power (or the cigarette lighter in the boat) and reset the date and time every time I use it. quite a hassle but at least I'm not totally 'puter-less.

   my guys rise and mel makes everyone fruit salad in a big pot (bob doesn't have much for eating ware). there's a picture on the wall in the living room of nina hagen and it gets paul talking to bob about that cuz he's played w/her in the past and is now going to again after many years not. seems nina has a hard time telling flakes from productive people and paul doesn't have the patience for the cheeseoids, he's from the old punk scene and doesn't need that kind of shit. nina herself is pretty interesting though - pretty intense! bob starts playing videos again - some screaming trees, some dos and some sonic youth. chris is helping bob archive all the tons of stuff he has but it's really a whupass size of a project, it's been a slow go. I get a call from john petkovich in cleveland. he wants me to film some stuff for a cobra verde video when we get to town. I consider this much an honor cuz I love john. we have to roll. byes and thank yous to bob, chris, mel and ryan though we'll see them all tonight cuz they're coming to tonight's gig.

   we head south on I-75 through detroit and into toledo. the weather is righteous - pedro like. we're gonna turn east at the ohio turnpike (I-80) and a major plug catches us, there's much construction going on - giant forms for concrete pours are set up for freeway building, pretty impressive. probably a lot faster than building all that wood scaffolding you usually see. paul's first tour ride w/us and he's up front. paul's got leather pants on - I guess he had them on last night too but I didn't really notice. on creedence's "cosmo's factory" record cover, john fogerty's got leather pants on w/his traditional flannel. I always thought that was a trip. raymond had me wear leather pants in that jim morrison film we made - the only time I ever wore those. it was funny. I guide jer into cleveland heights (in the east part of cleveland) and we find lots of construction outside the grog shop, where we're playing tonight. we park in the back. seems there's only a month of shows left here cuz the bosslady cathy is moving to a new location not far away. new owners want to make condos out of this building (another victim of gentrification). john from cobra is here and brings me to independent film maker richard banks' ma's pad, where we're going to film. he's got a blue flannel robe for me to wear. the plot is I'm eating cereal and getting bored not finding a channel on tv worth watching (big surprise) and then I see myself on "american idle" (his spelling), singing and that gives me a heart attack so I fall to the deck. I act it out the best I can - it's for their song "we got a riot industry" (though I always thought they were saying "we got a riot in the street" when they were touring w/me the last couple of times - john lets me lip-sync that!). it's a good time and richard, w/his assistant shawn, do a great job. john tells me richard's the real deal - he jams way econo and has no pretensions. I get that vibe very much working w/him and love it. john brings me a potato to chow after, when he brings me back to the club. what a privilege to be in this video! I love hearing john talk about what's happening w/this world and all the shit that tries to strangle us all - he's like raymond in the way he can't cut right through all the bullshit and get at the heart of the matter. he reminds of d. boon in that way too. he suggests I come here to cleveland and make a record w/cleveland folks and that sounds to me like a great idea. after this sickness piece, I'm going to start making records every year, like when I was a young minuteman. I am determined to. it's almost insane to think that the gap between my last two records is bigger than the whole of the minutemen's journey! what the fuck is that about? I have to very much get that together!

   back at the club, we do a soundcheck w/soundman tom. I then get a veggie burrito down the street. I come back and listen to kathy tell me about all the intenseness in getting the new pad going. I want her to do good. there's people who really believe in music, in the real deal and not all the crap that tries to clog every creative artery. these are the folks I dig working the little bass for. all my good luck wishes are w/her. I go to the boat and konk hard, like four hours.

   jer gets me when it's our turn. locals sounder and monster cock rally opened by I missed them. I'm wearing the same flannel as last night. it's one that's got canadian mounty colors that I wore in honor of just playing for our northern neighbors and it's kind of long in the sleeves. funny. this gig starts pretty rough - I break a 'd' string in the third tune. pretty sweaty in here too. tom does a good job w/the sound though. paul has the song forms much more down for the most part but for some reason, it's a tougher gig than last night. jer's not having the greatest night on drums but then he's still got his head cold on him. I get my momentum going better after about the first third of the set but then towards the end, something weird happens. someone tells me I need more sleep and for some reason - I still can't figure it even now - I react w/a crude stupid fucking response - something so idiotic, I'm too embarrassed to even mention it here. I don't what got into me. I apologize later but can the bell ever be unrung? what the fuck was that about? so many creative ways to handle one's insecurity and I go for something like that, it's shameful. I think that's what it really was kind of about, insecurity. our last tune is "the red and the black" w/the cobra verde's mark on jer's floor tom. whew... when we come back for an encore, I tell the folks I was wrong to say what I did - maybe I do need more sleep, maybe I need a new shirt even! we do "little doll" and I give a big rap about shaking up the world - I wish I could very much shake the fuck out of myself! little wannabe fascist on a stage w/a microphone saying stupid shit to someone who proabably didn't mean anything negative in the least - I am very angry and disappointed in myself... aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!! this is not what I wanted to grow up to be, this is not in the tradition of people like d. boon - what I did was bullshit and so very wrong. I almost wish I could break my head open w/this little bass and let whatever fucked-up notions in me fly the fuck out and be rid of forever. this is a very low point for me in the tour. three nails to sink jesus and how many words to sink watt? this is really what it is to shit oneself.

   the only relief I sort of find is talking w/folks after while slinging and seeing how genuine they are, they are much inspiring in their kind words and really turn me around inside to face me and take some responsibility. though I don't tell any of them what I'm feeling about this - they tell me about their musical and personal voyages, how they like how paul came to bat for us - stuff like that - I've got my self in my own personal sweatbox over this. to hear them makes me realize how much I can't take people for granted and throw sissy little shitfits like that w/out regard to them, like I was alone and in front of a fucking mirror. uncle ray comes up and gives me some tins of oysters - thank you very much, uncle ray. I see ed from the verdes and I'm happy to hug him up good. john brings me the righteous robe I spaced and left in his car along w/tea, garlic pills and throat lozenges plus good words about fighting the good fight. I definitely want to make a record w/him in his town - I am going to do it. the watt in cleveland show.

   final good words w/kathy and then into the boat. I do an interview w/bob hand from erie, pa w/him in the passenger seat of the boat. he asks me good stuff - this makes a spiel vital and not just canned. I've been through that town a bunch but have never played there - have to make a note to try to. so many towns in this land of ours - I want to play them all! time to bail now though. we're following good man wasco to his pad on his invite. first though, I say bye to bob, ryan, chris and mel - mel's ma mary is here too so a big kiss for her. righteous folks, all these cats and I can't wait to see them again. we follow wasco to the tremont part of cleveland, near the center and boy, is it late - like three a.m. I talk to my guys about what a jerk I was to act like that and all the yammering wakes up his wife lisa. he's says she wanted to say hi anyway - she got me a bottle of organic pear juice - she says she has yoga soon too. sorry my agonizing is affecting folks cuz I should be suffering w/myself about this. I bring down the mask and do just that for a bit 'till somehow konk smothers me w/sueneo, an undeserved reprieve.

thursday, march 15 - morgantown, wv

from watt:

   pop and hose off, trying to wash the guilt of acting like an asshole and saying what I did in reaction to an innocent little comment like "you need more sleep" from someone in the audience. I still can't understand why I acted like I did - it's unexcusable. wasco wakes and tells me coff is available on the corner so I go out to get some. there's a little park right there so I try to hoof off my obsessive thoughts w/this issue. I am determined to behave much better, much more responsible when on stage w/a mic and a bass. I would never do that w/someone on the street so why should I do that when I'm in that mode? it's bullshit and I was totally wrong. this might sound like I'm beating myself up about this too much but it's really bothering me. I feel like all the work I've try to make real has been shot to shit w/one fucking idiotic sentence. aahh, if I could go back and change things! aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh... on the way back to wasco's, I see a squirrel in a tree and take a snap w/the digicamera - I try very much to be polite about it. wasco comes out for work and tells me the pad across the street is where the dinner scene from "the deer hunter" was filmed. whoa. we take a picture and he has to bail. much thanks to you, brother wasco. I gather jer and paul and we pile into the boat. jer's too sick to drive so I take the wheel - I put the old man foam rubber doughnut on the seat and steer us back out of the driveway - it takes a few attempts cuz I've fallen out of practice w/the boat, not having driven in a bit. paul uses the map wasco drew us to guide me but gets confused and we loop back to wasco's! I figure things out and we reach I-77 then south through town and onto I-480 west. this takes us past the suburbs and onto the ohio turnpike, east towards youngstown. from there, it's I-76 and then penn state road 60 towards pittsburgh. this actually seems more like "the deer hunter" territory - very pretty w/lots of valleys and dales, much trees and green. we've got much sun too but weather can change quick out here. on to I-79 and south into west virginia. I know, a lot of different roads but really, it's only about three miles. thanks much to bob teagan for the giant nut sack (he gave me a big bag of almonds, pistachios and rasin-like cranberries), good chow for wheeling the boat about.

   morgantown is where the university of west virginia is. we're playing 123 pleasant street, a pad I first played in the 80s when it was called the underground railroad and a lady name marsha ran it. tragedy took her and last year was the first time I played here since those days. I still have good memories of marsha. the cat who owns this place now is named lj and he's righteous people too. much respect to him for getting the pad happening again. don, who helps him brings some much needed fruit (for watt) and I chow the bananas and peaches but the pears look like they need some ripening so I put them in the boat. on lj's advice, I go across the street and chow a "hippie" burrito from a pad that just opened, it's good. I then go back to the club and do an interview on the phone w/some cat in san diego. we do a soundcheck w/soundman chris and my amp's having big, big issues. I trace some of it down to bad speaker cables and chris, being the righteous cat he is, tins the cables I got in athens and things improve much. there's still problems w/the power amp but things are better. so frustrating, aaaaarrrrgggghhh... I'm not trying to make excuses but this has been bugging me much at the gigs and it does raise my anxiety level. I shouldn't let things like this get to me so though. I owe it to people who work hard all week to get up the bones to come see me play - I owe to the cats I'm playing w/too. this is imperative, the topmost priority - everything else should be secondary including bowing to the shortcomings of machinery. I must make this a central theme in my being here on tour. thanks much to chris for helping me out so.

   there's two openers tonight. one's a local band called the braille drivers and the other's david cherry's band from pittsburgh, handle. I've had me and my bands stay at david's the last couple of tours I've been through his area. he's an intense young man who's inspiring to talk to - I've heard his wife amber's just had their second daughter, eva. much congrats to all of them. however, none of these two bands are here when I go to the boat to konk and it's a hard konk for me - like four hours - so I miss both of them play. damn. more than three-fourths through this tour and I'm needing more and more rest. I just don't want to play weak or get sick. I hope these folks in the other bands understand I mean no disrespect. like the famous quote says, "a man's gotta know his limitations." I definitely have those.

   jer gets me and it looks like a 12:30 start time - that's a.m.! whoa, late. a much bigger crowd than last time we were here and there very enthusiastic. I see michelle here - she's from the underground r.r. days and wrote something about me in the paper, many thanks for that. there's an older gentleman (older than me) right up front that paul and jer met at some chow pad and he's very much into it. we play pretty good but paul's still unfamiliar w/some of the nuances and I'm trying to help w/cues and stuff but I'm not too successful. I get frustrated. someone yells something about needing sleep again but I just laugh. this time I'm very conscious about what I say to the folks and am much better than last night. however, I'm not so w/paul and tell him about parts we're having trouble w/in the set. this is kind of insane since we're in the middle of a gig! what's wrong w/me? I have huge respect for paul and know he's a great musician - maybe this is kind of working agianst him cuz it might be I'm putting unrealistic expectations on him to get on board w/me and jer real quick-like. I think I might be even barking at him maybe, kind of out of hand. this is stupid. paul's known me a long time and is very understanding - I know he's doing his best but I want him to better take direction from my cues and such. looking back now, I can see how the clams that are blown aren't as huge as imagined at the time in relation to the whole gig. it's me again, what's going on in my mind - this seems to be a constant problem w/me. I often compensate for insecurities I'm suffering by focusing in on others. it's not always about putting them down either cuz w/some people, reacting to the same kind of impulses but seeing them manifested in adorations and swooning for inspirational "muses" in my life. I see myself ping-ponging between these two behaviors... and these are w/people I love - dearly! we get done w/the songs of the set and go off to another part of the club and I'm almost in a rage, besides myself in a way. I'm not totally going off but I am acting frustrated and communicate that w/paul. jer's standing back and seeing all this, he tells me he understands... he just wants to make sure paul's not taking it personally. he's right cuz it has nothing to do w/paul personally - the person w/headtrip right now is watt! we do the encores good - paul nails "little johnny jewel" and jer's strong for both of us. both my guys impress me much. already, my head goes into overdrive into evaluating all that went down during the gig - funny how it starts all in my mind and then it has to be settled there as well! I had things going so good w/pete and that had the bar up there but if I just give paul a chance, he'll try his hardest to do as well too. watt has to inhale here for a moment - all of life is not one giant exhale!

   what really helps too is these morgantown folks w/their loads of good will. lots haven't seen me before or haven't seen me in a while. they all have sincere thoughts about the gig and I feel grateful to have been able to play w/my guys for them. lots of cats play music too - guys and girls. one young man tells me he plays in a reggae band now after working in the coal mines for a time. he's says the monies aren't as good but there's other things that make up for that. I can dig it. there's that anarchist cat from last year (damn, I always forget his name!) but he's gotta bail cuz he has to wake up early and we can't have a chance to talk but maybe next time. mark, a guy from pittsburgh who was at the gig last night has brought someone that really surprises me - it's roky erickson's brother, sumner. whoa! this is a mindblow and I lose my breath a bit. it's so trippy too cuz when I did "sweet honey pie" - a roky song - I fucked up a line that is one of my all-time favorites and I never fuck that one up. it was from this part:

      sweet honey
      and e equals m-c squared and no combination
      or combinations of atoms that don't agree
      our love survives,
      we all don't die
      no bad places
      they can take a permanent vacation
      one doesn't want to fall on others
      even the slightest of their negative vibration

   the "and e equals m-c squared and no combination or combinations of atoms that don't agree" line is the one that came out jumbled and that's something I never do cuz it seems to always come out so natural to me. I even laughed after fucking it up cuz I couldn't believe that's what happened but maybe now I know kind of why... maybe I was somehow aware of sumner and a little scared. roky's words are very heavy on me, very heavy. they make me feel things that I don't get from dipping my head into other expressions... he works my mind and heart in ways I find    quite singular. he conjures trippy shit in me and I dig it - in some words I wrote as a younger man, he makes me "dream light years" and I discover feelings rushing through me like my plumbing was greased and lit from the inside. it's a moment that gets me to a state where almost all will be now, a trippy kind of understanding that I feel part of a wonder, an awake kind of thing where my eyes are opened so big as to let everything amazing fall in and float free, not pinned to a board to be understood but to be celebrated - like a look from someone that you will never ever find the right words for, your attempts as using them always falling short. this is a bit of what I can write here now about how his works have touched me. sumner is a kind man and explains roky is not "depressed" like some have said - he explains, "listen to the line, 'no bad places, they can take a permanent vacation' - he's a man that's been living poor and w/terrible teeth." he says henry rollins donated money so roky has new ones now (dentures) and he's in austin, doing better. he asks me for recordings I've done of roky songs and I tell him I will get them to him, I'm kind of falling over myself all nervous to get a paper so he can have my email. he wants me on some kind of board that has something to do w/roky in a positive way and I'm kind of speechless, I could have never imagined this. I tell him about playing "I have always been here before" for people in belgrade during the bombing there a few years ago, this is a recording I would like him to have. mark, thank you so much for bringing sumner to the gig. what a trip!

   while the gig was on, the sky opened up and there's a torrential downpour going on now. shit, we're going to have to load the boat w/the gear in this, oh well. man, such sun during today and now this tonight - pretty intense contrast! we make the move though, paul's doing good even w/his much slender build than pete - much respect to him for all the effort. the handle guys (dave cherry's band) follow us to bossman lj's pad - right next to the monongahela river in a house that was used by the people who ran the river's locks in the old days. the rain is driving down hard so I guide the boat slow across the river and down the grade. I turn her around so if it does pound rain all night, we'll be on this pavement here and not forced to try and turn around in soft mud. david and his guys come in to talk a bit before going back to pittsburgh. david conitues his conversation he was having w/me in the boat about how me and d. boon's work in days past could make sense now, how could we know? I explain to him we were talking about the moment then and it just so happens things have kind of paralleled back around. there are some things about humanity that are quite circular and common to all eras in a way. he reflects on the idea of when "is it someone's time - does it come when they're young (like a rimbaud) or older (like a bukowski)?" I tell him that's a trippy thing to figure and all someone in their life can do is try and realize their vision (or work towards it) whether there's validation by others or not - weird how that shit gets decided anyway. there doesn't really seem to be uniform code of justice or merit, things are kind of chaotic and hard to figure about this anyway. he wants to know when one gets an idea of when their time is or when they've peaked. I can't help him here. it's almost 3:30 in the morning and I'm out of gas anyway. I wish him and his guys safe seas... maybe david will come up w/answers after some pondering. I just know I have to konk and do.

friday, may 16 - columbus, oh

from watt:

   I pop and run outside in my underwear to welcome the sun. I run down to the river and say hi to a cardinal flying about - love his red outfit. reminds of the other virginia where I'm from. there's some neat gerber daisies lj has - he told me he got tired of working hard to cultivate a garden and such just to have it chowed by the wild rabbits that live all about. he's growing flowers now. I want to try that when I get back to pedro. there's some soil and stuff outside the doors of my apartment building where I can give it a go. I never tried it before so it'll be an adventure. tour is not the only way watt can have adventures. I want to nurture something living that can become pretty, something simply beautiful and not convoluted. I wish I could grow them in a box that I could put in my window but I'm in the lower depths of my building and the sun doesn't shine in to allow that. outside, I can share them too. I've come to be quite partial to flowers in these days of mine, something I've overlooked for so long. roses have always tripped me out in their ways but I've come to find specialness in other kinds now too. it's hypnotic on me even. lj gets up and has to go do stuff but he tells me he'll come back to make us all chow later. before he goes, he makes me some coff. I want my guys to sleep in too cuz it was sure a late one last night. I chimp diary in the meantime. when lj returns, him and his girl sarah make up some great eggs scrambled up w/potatoes, onions and chilies. it's really good. thanks, lj. I take another walk around the river's edge and see the dam - I'm sensitive to the power emanating from these things and it resonates through me. all the green that's packed in from the water to the cliffs - the wailer of a downpour from last night is not for naught - what a bounty of thriving aliveness in return. good smells too, a cleansing from the sky. taking in enough perspective helps understanding the acute fury I can find myself caught up in when I try to be too reductionist in my thinking. you can not take your sailboat into the water and order the wind which way to blow. however, you can pickup on what's natural in the moment and try and make some headway. I'm learning more and more things happen for a reason, their cipher beyond me but maybe not so w/out some part of my being included. learning to improvise in the roles I find myself handed, that's where some kind of realization might be vital. I ponder this a bit.

   we shove off to return to ohio. cuz of the nature of the borders in these parts, we need to go back north into pennsylvania, west again into west virginia and then into the state of eight u.s. presidents. only two freeways are needed, first I-79 and then I-70. the land is lots of hill and valley, all covered w/trees and righteous to set the eyes on - so much green! I'm at the wheel again, it's not such a long drive (three and a half hours) and jer's still fighting his sickness. he's blown his nose so much, the mocos come out w/little bits of blood now. I tell him he's gotta blow a little softer, be easy on those sinuses. both me and jer go over parts of the songs w/paul to help him w/the small stuff. I know he's trying hard to help us. the biggest thing that can get in the way is my impatience. I guess I got too used to pete and am being unfair to paul. I've apologized to him much since last night's fit and hope he has faith in me acting better on stage w/him. I love paul dearly. jer's good at filling in the spots I forget about and that helps much. we pull into columbus - the big town in ohio now - around four. we're playing at little brother's in the short north part of town. it used to be heavy hood but now is kind of an arts part. it's not too far away from ohio state. dan dugan, the boss who's an old friend of mine, is gone on vacation. I miss him. I've promised him a friday for a while now and this tour he's got it but I can understand him wanting time off. I hope he's having some good relax time. I go a few doors down to a chow pad called "goody boy's" to have some liver. something tells me I need a shot of iron.

   we unload and do a soundcheck w/soundman bill. the amp's sounding kind of tiny and mushy but it's better than before chris helped me w/the speaker cables. one day maybe I'll have a rig that'll be strong a whole tour, gig after gig! I have to admit this is kind of a selfish wish w/all the hell that could be cured if one could only wish stuff into being. it is frustrating on me though. maybe that's a good thing though... all this conditional shit, huh?! I get a call from rick who's helping matt groening w/this "all tomorrow's parties" thing he's a curator for. last year it sonic youth did it and it was at ucla but this year it's at three pads in hollywood. I've been asked to do a duet w/george hurley where we'll perform a half hour of minutemen songs at the henry fonda theatre on june 20th. it's quite an honor. I think it would be better that just me and georgie do it rather than try and find someone to replace d. boon. I know I've done some minutemen songs w/my groups the pair of pliers and the jom + terry show plus I did that book launch gig in montreal w/some canadian cats where there were minutemen songs but to do them w/georgie is the real deal (they are not covers in that case) and we should do honor to our lost comrade by playing together for him. I don't play that much w/georgie so this is a big honor to celebrate such a man like d. boon. of course, georgie is an incredible drummer and a beautiful person as well. in a way, it'll be like playing in a two-man trio - if that makes sense. I call georgie and he's into it - that makes me so happy. we'll only have three weeks to get ready but I think we can do it cuz we did do twenty minutes worth before about a year and a half ago for a benefit at the el rey theatre up in l.a. georgie was a champ and played great. I was so proud to be next to him - they had the mic way up at the front of the stage but I brought it way back so I could be right near him. on the phone, georgie says I sound a little weak. I tell him that I've been on tour for almost seven weeks but I think richard "fuckin'" bonney told him about seeing me at that stooges reunion gig and how sick I was. georgie asks me how long can I keep going and I tell him that I just gotta keep on keepin' on - that I'm driven and I this is my calling - I just gotta take more care and manage my energies better. I can tell he's concerned about me and I don't want to make him worry. I tell him that when I play, there's some of him that comes out through me too so in a way, he's out here working the towns w/me and doing what us minutemen set out to do. I played fourteen years w/georgie, I know there's much of him in me. I also know when I ask a drummer who's playing w/me ever since to do a type of part or a phrase that he's in that understanding that I'm trying to get across cuz we developed much together. he was also very loyal to me and would be there at the drop of whatever whenever I was in need. that had a huge impact on me affected my sense of value in people. his observations on the world - both the big picture and the little things - had such a unique perspective that I always check and weigh in on lots of things through those eyes of his - like, "what would george think?" I find myself using his expressions all the time to cut right through a ton of bullshit to get right at what's really going on. his influence on me is heavy, always. I know I don't always making statements about this but it's very much true. us minutemen were three trippy guys. this is going to be an intense gig next month: scary but a trip. ryan's here and I have some of the chili he made for us and it's good. first habaneros I've had in a bit. thank you much, ryan.

   out to the boat now for watt. the moon is full and clouds are racing in front of it. they're not enough to block it out though, either the light's too bright or they're too thin. whatever, it's quite a show. I watch as long as I can w/out blinking, tears flow from the trial. it puts me in a state. unlike the sun, I'm not blinded but memerized and my vision blurs. I'm swiveling on my ankles. invisible strings hold me from falling - I know this cuz I am a clumsy person. I am drunk on the moon. she makes it short though and I'm once more w/this world. I feel lighter, matter inside me replace w/silver light. I put myself in the boat, safe in her womb. I konk like that.

   jer gets me around midnight. there's the moon again w/her cloud children dancing for her still. focus for gig time, I must resist her power on me. I can't resist but somehow force myself into the club. this stage is weird here, like you're coming out of a cake. it intimidates me some. the way the lights are, I can't see the folks. we start off and I'm unsure how we're coming across. I break an 'e' string at the end of madonna's "bedtime story." I tell the story of what happened to us in the boat today, going past wheeling. jer had found three piss bottles on the deck of the boat and lined them up on our little deck up front for a picture w/the digicamera. one of these piss bottles was a peanut jar w/a pop-off top instead of a screw-on lid and when the boat hit a bump, it fell and opened up. piss went on his shoe and the deck - not a lot but enough to be disgusting. we have a policy now of not keeping those kind of containers in the boat. live and learn. we continue the set and man, is my amp distorted. we do our best gig w/paul yet though and I manage to corral my weird emotions in regards to weirding out on someone, either on or off the stage. this is very much in the front of my mind cuz I don't want to be so fucked-up in this regard. I'm such a slow fucking learner.

   time to sling and there's tons of kindness from the folks, some cats came from cinci to see this gig since I didn't play that town this tour. adam from there is here, good to see him. one man has me sign his bass, another gives me a tiny bronze cow. I forgot to mention the opening band but they're from chicago and called th' bomb, featuring one of the naked raygun cats. the guitar player wants to "bro down" w/me and so he tells me about all the gigs he's seen w/me and has many kind things to say. lots of the peeps here do the same. it's very sincere on me.

   the folks I've stayed w/the last few times here are just one tonight (steve) cuz amy couldn't find a sitter. steve's a great cat and has always been so kind. we load up the boat and take him w/us to his pad a couple of miles away. he's got a happening cat named molly who has intense eyes and a harlequin coat. trippy. we talk a bit and then it's konk time, another late one. steve retires. molly doesn't though and w/the mask down, I hear her hoofing all about. then she's on me! I'm startled a little bit but then relax - what could be better than a cat's warmness on your chest? sueneo flows right over and onto me.

saturday, may 17 - chicago, il

from watt:

   pop and hose off - I've soaked in the tub here before but it takes ages to fill and we gotta leave kind of early cuz chicago is almost seven hours away. steve wakes up, makes coff and starts cooking up some omelettes. I get paul and jer up and we chow the good stuff steve has fixed up. amy comes down to say hi. them both being originally from massachusetts, we find it appropriate to relate our adventure w/that shithead who almost ran jer over in front on t.t.'s in cambridge. steve calls this idiot a "masshole" and we all laugh. people are always asking me what towns have the best and worst inhabitants and I have to tell them that from my experience, every pad has a little of both though my hopes are that the happening folks outnumber the fuckers and beyond that even, I have hopes the assholes can change their ways for the better. it's funny about us humans, huh? no town is either immune from mean people or have the monopoly on kind ones, this is what I have found - travel around and you'll see for yourself.

   I'm gonna take the wheel for the first half of the trip so jer can get rest in the back. paul rides up front w/me, he can't talk much though cuz he's losing his voice. I can feel for him cuz for me, keeping your voice is the hardest part of tour - it's 'pert-near impossible. we roll west on I-70 toward indiana. gray skies give way to rain, damn. not too hard but enough to make things dreary. we're in midwest farmland now and it's neat in its way. we take the beltway around indianapolis and head north on I-65. a little bit more and I pull off to get gas and hand the wheel to jer. he gives paul his first lesson in the other obligation the cat in the passenger seat has besides navigation and that is to chow the driver w/'dines or in this case (thanks to uncle ray), oysters on crackers. too risky to have the driver let go of the wheel to shovel so the passenger seat cat shovels it into the driver's piehole for him. since the chow stuff's in his possession, why not chow the cat in the back seat too? watt gets chowed also. thanks, paul. he's a quick learner. we pull into gary w/all it's blight and wonder, then turn west on the I-90 for chi-town. we cross the time zone line for central - bye bye to the east coast one - only two hours ahead of pedro time now. the traffic's not that bad but we make the mistake in taking the express lanes which are all plugged compared w/the local ones, shows to go ya! we're playing near the wicker park part of town at a pad I play at all the time, the double door. all in all, it's a much smoother time getting into here than usual - the traffic here can be as fucked as l.a. but maybe it being a saturday makes it calmer. the weather too cleared up as we came into town. it's foggy, like a morning in so cal but at least no rain. the folks at the double door are always very nice to me and they have parking for us right in where you load - wouldn't that be great if all pads were like that? happening parking and a laundromat right by, that would be so righteous for all pads to have - I can only dream. I go downstairs to say hi to the folks and they know about the stooges thing and ask me about it. of course I foam when I'm explaining it cuz I still can't get over that it happened, whoa. there's one of those magic eight balls on the desk and I ask it if I'll be able to do fifty more tours... it answers, "outlook good."

   I go down the street and get a pack of strings and though they got the kind I need (since the little bass has a short scale, I need to use a heavy gauge, like 105-85-70-50) but want twentyfour bucks a set! I get them in back home for like fifteen to eighteen so I get only one. I get a cord too, to go from my bass to the amp, one w/a right-angle jack cuz that's easier on the little bass' own jack. it only costs seven bucks but it's not made so good. oh well, maybe it'll last the tour? we'll see. I go back to the pad and we do a soundcheck w/soundman jesse and monitor man ben. jesse is very thorough and into his work, much respect to him. he takes the time to make things sound as good as they can. we bring our own vocal mics (paul's using pete's and I have an ev-n/d767) so he rings them out through their system. my amp's mushing out again - whew, this is going to be a hard gig but I'm not going to let it fuck w/me. we started soundcheck a little late (but not much - that's why it's great to arrive early w/time to spare) cuz we had kind of a major problem w/the leslie speaker w/pete's organ. it's the speaker that spins and it was only doing the fast speed and not the slow one. jer finally got a hold of pete back in pedro (someone wasn't getting pete jer's messages) and the situation called for jer pulling the motor out and looking things over. what pete explained wasn't what looked like was wrong so jer used his instincts instead and went w/a plan of his own. turns out he was right on the mark and got the leslie back in the race. great work, jer - much, much respect to you. it took two hours but it was worth it. we do only little soundchecks anyway, only one song 'pert-near always. when we get done, I go get a "junior" burrito a block away. there's a huge latin community in chicago, probably the biggest most northern one in the u.s. you can tell the real thing and this chow tastes down, muy authentica. I go to this store called reckless records and there's a magazine from england that has a review of my "spiels of a minutmen" book. I tell the person behind the counter I'm sorry about not getting back to someone here who emailed me about doing an instore today. I just got too caught up in tour busyness but maybe next time. she checks w/her boss and they give me the zine for free. they're nice cats here and what a good selection of sounds and stuff. I wish they had postcards though cuz I want to send one so bad - this town puts trippy thoughts in me. I'm walking back to the boat and this cat asks me for money but not just as a handout - he wants to give me a poem in return. I trade him his paper for the government-issued one I have and here's how it reads:


      where have I seen you before?
      was it on an island in the sea?
      where have I seen you eyes before?
      the are beautiful, that's for sure.
      where have I held your hands before?
      under a moon and star filled night.
      where have I kissed your lips before?
      maybe on a different planet
      far, far away.
      well, wherever we were
      do good in life.
      love strong and long.
      we are cosmic soulmates
      waiting for another date with destiny

            - oba moja

   this is beautiful. trippy getting this here, in the town I was conceived. the fact of that has already played on my mind much today. there's a parallel too, ideas that are conceived and then actually born. such a grand canyon between them it seems, huh? this concept has visited me many a time. it's not that ideas just get forgotten, lost in the fullness one might have in their day, doing what they have to do (or even "want" to do) but maybe it's something like getting the hint there's no interest if there's not a call back when you reach out. stillborn thoughts, aborted even. maybe though, maybe they're like seeds and planted but staying dormant 'till the right time when they can flower beautifully. that would be something, huh? maybe we all are so caught up in what might seem like such important imperitives and priorities that this link, the one between the conceived and the born, gets kind of lost in some sort of shuffle. that doesn't mean the link's not there, I think. are we conditioned to feel sad about failing to act on such a calling, maybe? it might be a reason to try and shut these feelings off, cut the link. I think at the same time we can be very impulsive and our can leap at an emotion but then a regret can follow up and backhand it big time. it maybe a defensive move to avoid looking weak or a reluctance to dare at the risk of being misunderstood. how much about how we operate is based on opportunity, how much on what's fired up in the heart? what are a heart's hopes? can this jive w/what seems healthy in the mind? what part of the mind can be trusted w/the conceive/birth issues, what is just impulsive and what can be truly inspired? making songs, making writings - this is a way of me bringing life to stuff get hatched in my head. I go through the birthing pains to bring them in to being, then have to live w/the consequences of their being. I bring them out and the are part of what defines me. I think this is healthy about my works - I want to help me be me. I don't think a healthy goal for me is to find an end-all in possessing either things or people. this is a world of ideas that I'm wrestling w/and it's too intense on me to grapple w/it halfheartedly. I have to make this a life's struggle. I'm a minuteman. I may end up like anthony of the desert in nothing but his sackcloth but I must not run away or try to pretend there's a shortcut to any of this. this is a one-on-one tug of war, watt on watt. it's funny though cuz the bottom line is that through this is one way I can legitimately feel I can connect w/others. everything else seems like it was designed for others, it doesn't feel natural for me. I go to the boat and konk for almost four hours.

   there's two local openers, monkey's paw and dummy but I missed both of them. damn, I heard they were good but I do need the konk to play the best I can. these folks here since the detroit gig are hearing the organ trio for the first time and I have to say it's the least-yammered-on gig I've ever had at the double door. much respect from the chi-town audience and so much respect back to them from me. paul does good, we're getting better - no where near the pete level but improving. sometimes paul has his head down and I have to call out to get his attention - he's got some trouble working the volume pedal and it can be sometimes tough on our dynamics but he's following cues better. there's clams blown but it's minor in the big picture of things. jer has hi-hat troubles and sticks breaking but he overcomes that too. I'm proud of both guys on stage w/me. ben does great w/the monitors, the best I've had at this club - thank you, ben. tour is starting to wear a little on my voice and this helps so much. the amp is frustrating w/it really get muddy and gutless towards the end of our set but I keep that from distracting me too much - I keep telling myself it's only a machine. one thing that's great is that I get to play chicago w/my little bass! the last couple of gigs here have had me borrowing basses to do the show cuz of it either getting left at the last gig or it having problems cuz of me getting a little brutal on it the night before. I get a little out of tune (sometimes I'm too nervous to get her right that way if I feel it'll choke the set's momentum) but she performs great. I put my hands all over her for "little doll" - not just the neck but all on her body (this is chicago). I've got a signal going from a direct box straight to the p.a. so hopefully jesse has her strong in the room. life brings me lots of frustrations but I still try to aim as I high as I genuinely feel inspired to and tonight has me intense that way. when we finish, I tell the crowd about getting that poem and there's folks who know of this guy and holler out his name. I read his poem over the mic and then tell people to get involved w/their own expressions. trippy links in a chain to make this world alive, heart beating.

   I've been carrying this dan electro bass I was given last time I played this club, when I had the little one of mine hurt. the cat who gave it to me, tommy joe, is here and I return it to him - much respect and thanks to you, brother. I get a carepackage w/'gars and some chili sauce - thanks for that too. there's lots of kind words for me as I sling and I try to let folks know it's much appreciated. doug from tortoise asks me about playing the all tomorrow's parties in england next year and that's very, very nice of him. what a nice cat, he's always been the best w/me. we load up and who's hops in the boat to talk w/me a bit? springa! great to see him again. he dug the organ band and was blown away to learn paul is kira's older brother. he tells me he's got fifty chapters for a book, forty new songs and an idea for putting on a musical, "wild in the streets." he's got a lot on his plate. he tells me about getting really wailed on by those habaneros he chomped on when I saw him when I was here w/j mascis + the fog. I didn't think he bite into them like he did when I offered. oops. it's another chapter for the book! he says he was waiting w/a "jah of peanit buhtah" for the coachella gig but his ride never showed up. maybe if this stooges thing plays here (or detroit), he can bring it then. that might be in the cards maybe...

   deb pastor has invited us to her pad - she got the warehouse building back - so she jumps in the boat w/us. it's a much easier park job this time cuz of the way the cars are - it was intense last time and took many cuts. I did it though. up the stairs - jer's puffing, "what's wrong mister thirties?" is what I tell him, having some fun. I like stairs, gets the heart going. jimbo had six flights of them and it'd be many trips up and down when I would be w/him on canal street. deb talks about how great sonic youth were here w/wilco a week or two ago - she says wilco even made trippy noises instead of just the americana thing - she lived in austin and saw enough of that. I bring up keith ferguson, a bass player who lived in austin and who I dug much. I played a gig w/him when he was w/the tailgators in the early 80s. too bad about him passing too early. I tell her about just seeing marcia ball w/raymond before this tour, I just found out about her a year or two ago. she's surprised I know of any of these people. it's funny. we roll out our bags and after some mota, get talking a little. paul doesn't puff but he does have some great memories to relate about going to high school w/darby crash and playing in both the screamers and nervous gender in the 70s. deb is tripped out about this. I thought nervous gender was such an intense band, they had a profound effect on me when I first going to punk gigs - I had never seen anything like them before. they were a total mindblow. when paul was w/them, they had an eight year old drummer! I saw many times in different incarnations. so sad gerardo passed away early too. he was always nice and would talk to the goofy guy from pedro (I never knew any of these hollywood people personally but would talk to them, lots of people talked w/each other in that scene even if they didn't know each other that well - that always impressed me much and had a strong influence on me). the germs people were like that w/me too. I was curious about all those intense cats in that scene doing what they were doing. that was a magic time for me and opened my mind up much. I can't imagine me the way I am now w/out that influence. it's hard to explain, hard to be concrete w/exact whys and all that but it blew so many doors down and at the same time, helped build so many bridges. tired now - too tired to spiel more. liberace-madonna mask down and I'm out.

sunday, may 18 - madison, wi

from watt:

   pop and hose off in a shower that's got its own spotlight, like you're on a stage in the tiniest of venues. I go up and down the flights of stairs a few times to get my heart going, I got some nervous energy. then I go make some coff. everyone in the building is konked. I go up to the roof. all of downtown chicago is in a fog, like lots of mornings back home in pedro. trippy to see this town like this, here in the midwest. I wonder if it'll burn off in the afternoon like it usual does in so cal? hope so. I chimp diary as everyone begins to get up, starting w/paul. he's had a funny outfit all tour (not that my outfit is even funnier), leather pants every day w/some kind of wild shirt - last night was a tie-dye one. put that w/styled beard-hair and dreads and he contrasts much w/me and jer. speaking of jer, he had paul shave his head bald w/clippers, then shaved it himself. I'd like a haircut myself cuz my "wings" (silver hair coming out on the sides) are growing out. don't know about the bald thing though, however I did do it three times as a minuteman, along w/d. boon. it was intense w/sensastions having your head that way. I remember the first time I took a shower and how the water felt like snowballs crashing up on me, trippy.

   deb and her room mates wake and they get breakfast going, eggs and this righteous bread that's got rosemary and garlic in it. being it's sunday, I call my ma. she sounds much stronger in the voice and that brings me relief cuz I hate to hear my ma weak from a beatdown of sickness. she says my sisters are well but busy. she's also found some infos on kayaks for me when I get back. I really want to explore that activity and see where I can take it. I'll start in breakwater at first and have marty, my friend who's been doing it a while, show me what's up. can't wait, I'm excited about it. since I'm in chicago, where I was conceived, I ask my ma some stuff about when she lived here in the late 50s. she says lived in the north side, on sheridan road. she said the arts and clubs part of town was somewhere called the near north. my pop was stationed at the great lakes naval training center, south of waukegan and he'd come into town from there and meet here. this was the background for watt's entry on the world stage. they were so young, my pop like nineteen and my ma near that. I have a picture of them in those days that I keep in my wallet. I came through customs one time from canada and the officer thought the picture was fake, she said it just didn't look real. my pop's in his sailors suit (second class machinist mate at the time) and my ma's in a gown - the shot is from the shoulders up. it's one of those 50s style black and white that's shot like it was a still from "casablanca" or something. trippy. my ma was born and raised as a little girl in a little coal town in western wyoming called dines but when the coal ran out, the mining company that ran it, closed it down so my ma spent her teen years in peoria which is in central illinois. chicago is like the new york city or san francisco to people of the midwest and my ma was lured by the bright lights. my pop was from a small town in the california sacramento valley called red bluff. he was in the national guard at seventeen and then a sailor a year later. it was the navy that put him near where my ma was. I can tell in my ma's voice that she's thinking about those days - as I get older I seem to get more curious about them both back then. I wish I would've asked my pop more about those days when he was still alive but my head was somewhere else (maybe more up my ass?). if I could give any advice concerning these things, I would tell young folks to ask your parents stuff like this while you can. it might seem stupid at the time but believe me, you'll start to wonder as time pushes you onward. it happened to me.

   we all go up to the roof and I ask deb to take pictures of the (sort of) secondmen. it's the first ones we've had done. all three of us make a good contrast, no conformity here! that's ok though. all eras have their uniforms but if you have a heart to heart w/yourself, doesn't it feel stifling? civilian life is not to meant to be like the military - take it from someone who grew up in navy housing! even if you are trapped in some kind of "uniform," at least you can set your mind free or try to. maybe I get uptight about appearances cuz I'm insecure about mine. even if we all walked around naked, I would still look like a goof. doug from tortoise comes by and we talk about pedaling bikes. several people these cats know have been killed on them, hit by cars - one of deb's room mates and this lady doug knew from stereolab named mary. that's a fucked up thing and it's sad. I wish people in motor vehicles would watch out more. I hope pedaling becomes more popular cuz we need ways to help clean the air and save resources. it'd help get more folks fit too although there's hazards still (look at me and the illness). overall though, I think pedaling is a happening thing. good for the mind also.

   we bid deb and everyone farewell and I'm at the wheel cuz jer used mota and is buzzed. I only use it after the gig's done and I'm ready to konk, it's too much on me during the day on a tour - I got too much to focus on - no babysitter for watt on one of his tours. it looks like the I-90 going through the suburbs is a massive plug so I take us along lake michigan on I-94 towards milwaukee. the traffic here is light. the clouds have in fact burned off and it's nice out. we pass the great lakes naval training center my pop was at fortyfive years ago. someone told me it was going to be closed soon. when we cross the border into wisconsin, we stop at some place called "mars cheese castle" so jer can get some curds. he fell in love w/these last tour. I get this two small sticks of cacciatora salami. I know, italian in wisconsin but it's good. big time ammunition for farting though - I might be giving jer a run for his money. madison is on an isthmus and paul has his first troubles w/map navigating some but he figures it out and we get to the pad we're playing tonight, the annex, around five. it must be my third or fourth time here. I can't believe what I see parked outside the loading door, the same corroded-out van that's always here - it must never move. it does have collector's plates but what a rust bucket! it's hard to believe this thing doesn't crumble into a pile. intense. we load in and find to our horror that this jumper plug for the organ that's usually removed when we put it in the boat has been left in and it's bent-up to all fuck. at least the pins are straight, what's messed up is the grounding sleeve and I use some pliers to get things rounded up and true again. we are once more blessed regarding the organ (yesterday w/the leslie motor) and the repair is successful. whew. pete told us that if we lose this, we're fucked. the bullet has been dodged and we'll be more careful. I go to make some tea and this lady talks to me about the gig. she's from duluth and has that trippy accent they have up there, almost scandinavian. it's neat. wisconsin people have a slight tinge of it too but it's much stronger up north. she just graduated from med school - this graduation weekend here (madison is a college town besides the state capitol). she's just going to check out what I'm about, she has questions that tell me she knows about some of the scene I come from but not entirely even though she's almost forty. I like the idea of someone near my age being adventurous enough to just go check something out. we do a soundcheck w/soundman christopher and then it's to the boat w/me. I still got the hatch open when robin and then bucky come up - these two former tar babies (the name of their band that recorded for sst) are playing together once again w/two other cats as bucky, robin, someone and someone else (one of those crosby, stills, nash and young names) and they're opening for us both tonight and tomorrow in milwaukee. I hear them soundcheck and it sound good - very smooth grooves. I get a carepackage from some young men and then want to see the purple plower so I pull it out and let them play it. sure is beautiful and righteous to play. I'll get it to sound where pete and jer like it when I get some time in pedro. one of their gifts is some backwoods 'gars and I have my first of the tour, puffs good, thank you. I chimp to finish my last entry and then konk - I'm not eating anything more after that salami.

   jer comes and wakes me up for gig time. damn, I missed bucky and robin. a good crowd here and very supportive. the stage at this place has been always kind of dead - like something you'd want for an acoustic act and it's kind of hard to hear. the organ. my amp was ok at soundcheck but it starts mushing out 'pert-near quick. glad I'm in minnesota day after tomorrow and get this baby fixed cuz it puts anxieties on me. I talked about this yesterday so I'm not going to obsess on it again. in a way, I'm a little intimidated by the crowd, there's some yammering right up front and I don't know why it's distracting me but it is. watt is not the same watt every gig. I forgot to mention that before we started I read off a paper someone gave me that the lady who had okayz here in town, kathy, is trying to open up another place but the city's giving her grief so it'd be good for folks to go to the public hearing tomorrow and help her out. I had some great gigs at okayz. it burned down in a fire a few years ago, damn. there's a mic set up for jer's cymbals too close to me and I keep hitting the little bass on it and knocking my 'd' string out of tune, damn. finally, I move the fucking thing to get it clear of me, aaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhh. I only give two spiels but each time I'm interrupted by this young man so I hand the mic to him. he just hollers "yo" when I do that, not much from his end. it's hard to know how you're going out into the crowd w/this stage so I feel a little insecure. for the encore, to compensate I put in an extra tune - the first time this tour we've done "sister ray" w/paul. it's very difficult to do w/amp the way it is and hearing hardly any paul. I give it my best though and put my mind in the place where it's most inspired. man, do I wish I could shake myself all the way loose from the hinges. I sure as hell try. paul did better w/the cues but I can tell he's struggling w/his singing.

   I sling and rap w/the folks, lots of kindness from them. much respect their way from me. while we were playing, there was a lot of video taping going on, people w/cameras running around on stage. this guy talks to me about it sort of but never really tells me what it's all about. he tangles all kind of thoughts in his spiel. I meet a cat who last saw me at turner hall - it was the last time the minutemen played this town, whoa. I get a great shirt from another cat, thank you. this other young man has me sign a poster for claire, this lady we stayed w/in milwaukee last time. it's hard for me to remember a lot of names w/people but she was interesting and sticks out. I wish I could remember everyone, I do prod myself into at least trying, some of that comes out of chimping it out in these diaries. sometimes though, I think it's almost luck that I can recall a name. it always beats on me when I can't bring back a name, I feel like maybe the person who's trying to tell me who they are has been slighted cuz maybe I don't care enough to remember and I want them to know it's not like that at all. I remember claire though. I can't remember the guy at the same pad who gave me this cd I've played on my show. it was trippy music, like machines. I remember claire like cy twombly, the artist - funny that I remember that too. I sign this little donkey for a baby that was going to be named after me but instead was named ace, I can dig it! much respect to his ma and pop. one man gives me some bread he baked himself, thank you. I do an interview for a local weekly w/a young man named brett who asks me great things about john coltrane and how he inspires me. I dig that. for me, both coltrane and stooges fire my plugs all w/the same coil - it lights me up and I draw no distinctions regarding the inspiration. I settle w/the boss tom layton and he tells me his bike's been stolen while the gig was on, damn. it had a lot of memories for him besides being his main mode of transportation. that was a cruel blow. I feel bad for him.

   bucky drew us a map to his pad so when we finish loading up, we head over there. I'm out of my outfit and into my sleep sack within moments of hitting the couch. thuy thinks this is funny but watt has to be calm after gigs and get the recharging going as soon as possible. there's a friend of bucky's and bucky himself w/me and paul in the living room here. joyce and homer come up again w/the parallels in each of their stories - paul knows "ulysses" but not so much "the odyssey" though our spiels quickly bore bucky and the other guy right out of the room. we continue though cuz we find it interesting. hey, different folks for different pokes. we run out of gas soon though and konk has it's way w/stopping the spiel.

monday, may 19 - milwaukee, wi

from watt:

   pop early as usual and feel like a little hoofing should be in order cuz I'm feeling sort of emotional. sometimes a person finds themselves in the morning that way, huh? maybe afternoons and evenings too but for now, it's morning. there are dingy skies outside, looking rain-like. I hoof down to washington street to find some coff cuz I had no luck in finding clues to any in the kitchen. what I find a bunch of blocks on my way is not a pad w/coff but a oil change place and there's an early bird special. I hoof quick back to bucky's and get the boat, then bring it in. there were still two hundred miles to go before my typical three thousand mile mark but what the hell, why not now seeing as there's a good opportunity? I hear the work guys talking about how the boat has got an odor to it. sorry about that, guys. this boat is in tour mode and jer just had to put those bottles up on the little deck for a picture, that was too risky of a plan - especially w/the pop-off lid on the peanut jar. anyway, that water under the bridge now (the yellow kind). we live and learn. besides the discount, I get a coupon for a sub sandwich but I'm gonna pass on that. I take the boat to the capitol building, maybe there's coff somewhere around there. all the capitol buildings in the u.s. have some kind of dome and look sort of like the federal one in d.c. this one here's pretty classical in its design and is pretty impressive though what I find really pleasing to my eye is the flowers planted in beds around it. I park the boat and take lots of shots, they got mainly pansies and tulips. they're righteous and put me in a state, trippy how flowers have become so intense on me. maybe I'm getting more like a bee or a bird? this has occurred to me before. I find a little sandwich shop and I still have the taste for salami so I get one of those kind. I get some chips to load it w/texture - these are trippy kind w/dill flavor on them. tart. I like tart - even sour. interesting how the flavors mix. I like mustard too, maybe for the same reason. I like the way things touch on my mouth too, like soft bread filled w/the crunch of the chips. trippy. the salami makes me feel the italian in me (my ma's side) - always has. when I was young in navy housing, at the first of the month when my ma would go to the commissary, we would always have a stick of the hard genoa kind and a brick of wisconsin swiss cheese. here I am, in wisconsin w/those same sensations. maybe this is what they call comfort food? it almost makes me feel like getting good rubs when my joints are feeling oh so sore. funny about that.

   I return to bucky's and find he's already bailed, as has thuy. there's another room mate here though, one I remember from last year - he's a good cat. he offers chow but no thanks this time - wish, I could remember his name - I'm so fucking lame at that. paul and jer are up so we decide to get to milwaukee. I wish we could tell bucky thanks but we'll see him tonight cuz he's playing w/us again. milwaukee is only like eighty miles away to the east, so it's an easy drive on I-94. I'm driving again. we get there around two and are greeted by rain. the club is shank hall, I've done lots of gigs here. it's close to the shore of lake michigan. it's named after one of the venues in that movie "spinal tap" - they even have a little stonehenge replica (only a piece, not the whole ring of stones) on the wall behind the stage. they're not open yet and someone's bogarting all the parking out front so we park across the street, in front of a bagel shop. I chow one of them when we drop anchor.

   ned comes to open the club up at four and we load in quick in case the rain really starts coming down. ned puts out fruit and I chow some pears and bananas big time, I dig it. I don't think I'm gonna eat chow tonight. we set up for soundcheck and man, is the amp sounding bad, bad, bad. I'm gonna limp through these next gigs, that's for sure. one thing I want to make sure though is that I don't ease up on the intensity (passion) if even my machinery is laming out. I am committed to wailing on that. we do soundcheck w/soundman matt and I tell him to make the bass coming through the direct box is there cuz who knows about the amp. I go out to the boat to chimp diary. my mind starts to wander and I feel like a transmitter - or rather, I want to be like a transmitter - putting out vibes. I know I can kind of do this on stage w/the little bass slung around me but I'd like to be here in the womb of the boat w/just my mind, being able to send out thoughs - saying to be well or hey, c'mon around. stuff too like relating what I'm tasting, what I'm smelling, what's filling my eyes and ears. it that way, it'd be more like a mirror but then there's another way when I'd like to express wishes - not really for my benefit except in the idea that would make me happy would be something that'd make someone else happy (and if that means sometimes taking it on the chin for something like that, so be it).

   jer comes to get me for the gig, damn if I didn't miss bucky and robin's band again but I just get so deep into the konk thing - tour has its way of put the tiredness screws on me. this konk though was weird cuz I was kind of having a nightmare. it was like I was in that movie, "the night of the living dead" and it was creepy on me. like all these motherfuckers grabbing on to me and biting - I could feel them biting through my flannel and levis and it hurt so, hurt like fuck. I wasn't turning into a zombie like them though, just trying to get the fuck away. it was a scary dream and I woke up in a sweat. I was kind of disoriented so when I went to the back of the boat to get the little bass and the sling sacks, I knocked over this styrofoam container thing jer must've put on the extra cooler we got back there (not enough room up front w/us cuz there's already one up there from craig and denise of houston) - fucking rice goes everywhere. shit! tonight's like the earliest show of the tour, maybe 9:15 pm and now everyone's waiting for watt. I frantically clean all the rice up w/a garbage bag and then get myself and stuff in the pad. sorry, guys. I'm going up to the stage and there's claire - whoa! I thought that cat dan in madison said she couldn't come - that's why he had me sign the poseter for her. what a trip. I'm also still shook up from that freaky dream, ok now... we start the gig and it's trippy kind of cuz the lights are pointed right in your eyes so I can't see anyone, not even right in front of me. I break a 'd' string and have to change it so I start talking to the crowd, telling them about our adventure on our way from morgantown to columbus dealing w/me using a peanut jar w/a pop-top lid for a piss bottle and it spilling when jer tried to take a shot of it on the little deck inside the front of the boat - the moral being to use a bottle w/a screw-on lid. I don't think the folks saw that one coming. my amp is sounding pretty mushed up bad but my guys and playing good - paul's getting the hang of it. ready for the last tune, I give a little spiel about thanking everyone and this guy in the front will not let me talk w/out him talking too. he's a nice guy and you can tell he's into it but he hardly will let me get a word in edgewise. he's a little excited. one ain't so happening is some in the back hollering, "hurry up, we got places to go" but someone hollers back, "so go!" what's w/some people? I only gave two little spiels out of an hour of straight playing. we come back for the encore and I tell the folks it's alright to talk back to me, especially if it's practice to talk back to their public servants (politicians) or people trying to market away their fucking lives. you know, standing up to suffocating bullshit. I wouldn't mind at all being target practice.

   I sling and talk w/people. lots of nice cats. there's phil from the onion (http://www.theonion.com) who asks me to be part of something coming up called "the two wheel church" - a deal support bicycling pedaling. I'm way for that! there's mike jackson (not that one but the milwaukee one) who's a good cat, he gives me some music and his girl apologizes for last tour being a "chatting cathy" but I tell her it's alright. all during the show tonight she was doing interpretive dancing to the music and when I broke that 'd' string and tried to give it to that vocal young man who was right in front of me (favorite comment from him: "mike, I know you're a heinie man" - as in heineken beer - what? I don't drink beer!) but she snatches it right out of his hand in one grab. mike jackson and her are such opposites in a way but I could see how they would work well together - I've seen many couples compliment each other that way. I like their vibe. I settle w/boss peter, good to see him again. I promise him I won't give him another monday - he'll get a good day next time (shit, how I wish there was someway to make every gig a friday or a saturday night but then I would go insane not playing the other five days - also, it's not that an econo mode to be touring in!). I'm still grateful for him having me aboard though, as always.

   we pack up the boat and bring adam to direct us cuz claire's invited us to konk at her pad - a different one than last time but it's still happening. he still remembers what we taught him about port (left) and starboard (the other way), great! claire gives me the shirt I spaced on and donated last year - the plaid one w/gold threads in it (bizarre!). man, I thought this was gone forever - thank you, calire! I am beat cuz I don't think I got a lot of real rest w/that nightmare konk before the gig. I'm out as soon as I'm on the deck and in the sack.

read week 6 of the tour diary

read week 8 of the tour diary

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this page created 19 may 03