4/3/01 - So here's the tour spiel.
I'm starting this as we are leaving Las Cruces. We made a short stop at Kinko's so that Migs
could fax his homework to the University. Las Cruces has a really nice Kinko's. While we were
there we got a creative burst and made our first set of stickers. I also bought this pad in order
to relay aforementioned autobiographic spielage to you, the audience.
We played Insurgo the first night. Its kindof cheating to consider you home town as
part of thetour, but who still plays fair nowadays? We got there, and Icelandic was already on.
We had notworked out the order, and so the fellas had taken the innitiative by starting
the show (a bit tooearly to boot). None of our friends from the collective were there. Those kids
are always so busy. Instead some new kids were there. Thanks for there help, those kids were great,
although they seemed a little overly concerned with the lack of
people, or money, or whatever. No biggie. Honestly, we should have mademore of an effort to
advertise the show, butwe've been playing too much for our own good and we're behind. Thanks to
Icelandic, Cymbeline, and Every Good Boy Does Fine (who I saw for the first time, and loved). Everyone
played free for our sakes, so we appreciate it. Also thanks to the Collective for hosting.
Tour is great. We played El paso last night and it was great. Actually it was
pretty subdued. There weren't that many folks there, and one of the bands, 'Damn Dirty Apes',
cancelled. They weren't taking any money at the door even after we got there, so we were
resigned to cinching in our belts. We played with a hardcore band called Four Story Horror. They had
the energy for sure. The girl singer had a real femme hardcore voice that I liked. Kindof SIN 34 or
along that line. I told Luigi, the bassist, that we were from Albuquerque, and he said there
were... "some good vials from up there." News to me. He admitted that most folks in El Paso would rather
get high than playmusic. We got a good response. Jessica Flores who set up the show plied the modest
crowd for donations, and we ended up with thirty dollars. We were stoked. The bartender Dave hooked
us up afterward and we got a little wasted. Everyone was real cool, and the club was pretty
cool. Note: the Cantina la Tuya is a restaurant which can accomodate unattended minors, but
which can also serve beer, and liquor(!) to those of us afflicted with the burden of adulthood.
Yowza! This obviously presents limitless opportunities, and anyone who wants to bitch about Texas
certainly can't whine about the liquor laws. Get it? Whine, wine. Anyway. The few that came stayed
all night. The kitchen was open late. Two bucks for burger and fries! Get Dave to pour you a
'chocolate cake'. Its a pretty decadent apertif. We talked to some locals who were actually punk
rock GI's stationed in El Paso. I whooped 'em all a few times at foosball, and they had to go. The
bar was closin'. We loaded up and crashed in the van while they cleaned up the bar and kitchen. We
said bye to Jessica, and followed David the short distance to his house. The propensity of
lead crystal glassware, and the ceramic basset hound on the doilied coffee table hinted to
me that David still lived at home in the biblical sense. Sure enough the next morning I awoke to
the sound of three generations of female voices in Spanish at the breakfast table. I met David's
mom, two sisters, and little baby niece Eileen, who is named after the Dexy's midnight Runners
song. Migs had wandered from the sofa to the van once the house had become lively. Dave was
nowhere to be found. Apparently working at la Tuya has committed Dave to wholly nocturnal lifestyle.
"He just now went to bed." Dave's mom said. It was 9:00 a.m. "Sometimes when
they are recording Ihave to tell them to go to bed!" Dave plays in two bands in El Paso, one of
which is Purell, I think. With one sister off to school, and one sister off to work, we sat around with
Dave's mom and little baby niece listening to the gramma tell stories about shows in the back
yard, and bands from as far away as New York, and strange people sleeping all over the floor.
"Everybody knows my David, and they all need a safe place to stay." She gave us biscuits and
coffee. Delite. Dave had said he would try to get us an opening spot with Cursive the next night, if we
could stay for another day. We decided to resist the urge to blow our day off (and our extra
cash) in Juarez, and play La tuya again that night for what would most certainly be more peolple, in
lieu of our upcoming show in Phoenix, and the opportunity to see Rocket from the Crypt in
Tempe. Not to mention hooking up with our friends in StereoTypeRider. Dear Dave's mom
wherever you are. Thanks for the biscuits and instant coffee. "How long have you known David?" she
asked. "Oh, uh, we just met him last night."
Ten miles out of Lordsburg and we are pulled over. The engine is overheating
and white vaporous smoke is pouring out of the tail. Fuck. Its really windy and we've been driving
against it for awhile. The radiator is empty. Sean is calling AAA to try and get a membership
right now. Migs is running to yon truck stop for water, and I am pacing nervously around the van.
Walked by the railroad tracks. Saw old rusty metal artifacts and railroad spikes.
Put my ear to the rail but could not hear a thing. Put a quarter on the track just in case a train comes along.
The volcanic bedrock, stained with shiny ores and smoke and grease, lies beside a bed of desert
wildflowers as bright as a vein of pure gold running adjacent to Highway 10. Snap a shot of Migs
smiling or squinting, and broken down van, and my shadow, and... Catastrophe.
We're sitting alone (Migs and I) in the Holiday Cocktail Lounge next to the Holiday Motel.
Not to be confused in any way with the Holiday Inn.
The only other people (if you dare call them that) in the place are laughing at the sight of us. This is Lordsburg.
City 'O' the Lord. We have just put Sean on a Greyhound to Las Cruces. Our fate is in his hands. We
went ahead and cancelled the two remaining shows that only barely qualified this as a tour. We might be able to
make the show if Sean can get back in four hours or less, but that is unlikely
so we have gone ahead and given the terminaion order. It seems like the responsible thing to do
for Anthony's sake. Blown head gasket, fuck, damn, shit, fuck. Anthony was sympathetic, and
disappointed. He would call Karl and find another band. Last night was damage control.
We nursed the van to the next exit aptly named Shady Grove. Emphasis on 'Shady'.
It was twilight zone; trucker style. We still weren't sure
the extent of our predicament. What should we do? Was the van fucked? If so, then what?
"This is just the sort of situation where I would have called my dad." Sean said.
"He'd know exactly what to do." We parked next to a diesel garage across from a truck
stop. It was a full on truck stop, the kind with coffee brewing and not much else. Diesel gas only,
cots and showers, and a room full of ancient press games. Every so often a trucker would amble over
nonchalantly from the truck stop, and enter into the garage. After a short time he'd amble back
over to the layover spot where his truck idled. Mechanics poked there surly faces out of the garge
and peered suspiciously at us and our van in ten minute intervals. A shiny bald headed kid
in flip flops, a wifebeater, and shorts, and his bleached blonde girlfriend in sportshalter
stopped by in a brand new Chevy Montero. They looked like porn stars. They dropped off some take out
at the garage, and then took off. The whole place reeeked. It was dubious. The triple A guy was
taking a long time to get there because of a rollover farther down the highway. He wouldn't be there
until later. We were wishing we had a gun. We got some would be assisstance from a
fantastically drunk townie standing with friend from 'Deliverance' at the nearby closed Fina. The one guy,
who couldn't keep his eyes from crossing, was informing us that we had a blown head gasket, which
we had already discerned, while the other dude was yelling something unintelligible yet
hostile, from his post several yards away. I was pretty convinced as the sun went down that this
squirelly bunch of tweekers was going to sprout fangs and devour us. I tried to inquire of a
bearded mechanic if he had heard any news of the rollover after overhearing him mention it to another
guy at a nearby truck. "I ain't heard nothing, and I ain't talked to nobody!" he snapped. He looked
like he was gonna slug me. He did that little shoulder shrug head/tilt thing that in no uncertain
terms means 'Fuck off while your at it', and turned his back on us. We got in the van and waited.
Finally the AAA guy got there, and we rode in the van as it rode on top of the flatbed. Scary
ride. Glen the tow truck guy was pretty cool. He looked pretty young, and something easy in his
manner made things seem less troubled. He only charged us half the towing fee, and gave us a ride
to the beer store after dumping the van. "You guys in a band?" He asked. We told him the story.
"You born around here." I asked.
"Yep. Left for about eight years, but I came back." He sighed.
"Pretty peaceful out here. Probably a lot easier to focus, and get things done."
"Naw, not really." he replied. "Pretty much the opposite. Nothing to do out here but get in
trouble. Anywhere else, and I'd probably be in jail." Maybe that's why these
people live out here, I thought. Too wild for the city, and city life to crazy for them. Two
different kinds of trouble. Everything about this town seemed dead in the same way my gramma's hometown
seemed dead. People finding some fearful solace in their agrogoric solitude, the same way some
folks might find peace in some anonymous cubicle in some sardine packed city. Hard to really know
which one is truly lonely, and not just dead. Anyway, I'm somewhere in between. Somewhere out on
the road feeling tied down the same way myt dad must've felt in his west Texas home. Dying towns
that regenerate with prodigal sons and daughters. Glen dropped us off back at the hotel, and we
bagan to drink our cares away. Everyone is still optimistic, considering how pessimistic we could be. I'm
procrastinating calling Karl. I hope StereoTypeRider can play our show in Tucson. It should've
been their show anyway. This is Mig's first tour, and Sean and mine's second failed attempt.
The Roman Candle Choir tour to Texas was similarly ill-fated. We made all our gigs, but were
forced to sacrifice our van to th ehighway god. I'm not sure if the first or the second time is
worse. The cutout witch in the van might have been a bad omen. I nearly got creamed by the train
trying to put change on the tracks. Near misses are never a good omen. The rollover on the
highway? Perhaps our luck was like a shield; only barely deflecting the slings and arrows or our
personal outrageous fortune. It came upon Migs and I as we sat in the Lounge waiting what Sean might be
thinking alone on that bus. His first Greyhound ride. I felt myself wishing Larry, Sean's pop, was
around probably about a fraction as much as he must've.
"If my dad were here, he would rent a van and come get us." Matter of fact,
Larry would probably have driven the whole rest of the tour, and retooled the cylinders with his
bare hands before replacing the head gaskets while we played. I felt like telling Sean his pop
was fucking punk rock.
I guess I realized things would be alright when the earth did not start to fall apart with our
chances of making our two remaining shows. We were getting pretty fatalistic stuck between
depression and pragmatism to the north and south, and chance and karma to the east and west.
Instead of disappointment, we talked of shows we had not booked, and songs we
had not written, and tours we had not yet blown. Migs and I played rummy and solitaire and sipped
coffee. When we could drink no more coffee, we went back to the van and drank beer. Hours later
we walked to the nearest payphone a way over yonder at the gas station. Sean was close by, but
our window of opportunity had passed. Migs and I smashed more change on the tracks, this time
from within safe tolerences. We got back to the van and drank more beers. Sean got there, and we
saw that he had rented a full size trailer to put the van on, and a full size Ryder to tow the
trailer. It cost a wad. We began trying to get the van onto the trailer which proved to be a
fucking big hassle. When it was finally done, it was about five thirty.
"I don't think we should go if there's a chance we're not going to play." Sean
said. The financial burden was squarely on him, so we agreed. the fact of the matter is
Sean hasn't really any more cash than Migs or I, but what he does have is good credit. Good credit
is the capacity to owe great sums of money that you don't already possess to someone (usually an
asshole) who does. I'm not given to that lifestyle. It doesn't sound right for me. I'd rather owe
money to my friends who are sweet and charming. I gave Anthony another call to reconoiter our
situation. He sounded gloomy, frustrated.
"I already called Karl, and Redfield is going to play. Let me see what I can
do." The boys and I hemhawed about it a little, but we all knew it wouldn't work. We were going
home. I gave Anthony the last call, and we headed out. It was destined to be a good show with or
We ate and got on the road. We were all pretty numb. I sat silent for an hour.
There was small talk between Sean and Migs. I remained silent, now starting to depress. My
silence clouded the tiny space, and we all sat quiet for a long time. Something about the van came
up, and we all mumbed about it, making jaded jokes about hexes, curses, bad karma, etc. We
discussed what could have been done different, which was nothing. Having nearly been creamed by the
train, I didn't really feel obliged to complain about our lot, though I desperately wanted to.
The others seemed already okay with it like they had known for hours, possibly an entire day
before me that the whole thing was fucked. A complete idiot would have cashed it in the moment he
saw water running out of the fucking tailpipe. I'm a special type of idiot, however, not unlike
in my naivete the small child who awaits the heroic appearance of Santa, only to have his hopes
inevitably dashed by the goddamned reality of it. I actually held on to it for awhile there in the
Ryder, until the sun went down, and then I just pouted until we got home.
Speaking of mislaid heroes, who should happen to call right smack dab in the geographic center of
my depression but my own dear old dad. He let me know he would be in town, and it would be a great
time to hook up, as opposed to the last thirty years or so. He'd would be working in Scotsdale
building a new golf course there. Now don't get me wrong, I love the old bastard, and man do I
love golf (really), but there's already plenty of golf courses in the world, and plenty of dad in
my life. I wasn't in the mood. Sorry pop, but you're no Larry McCullough.
I'd like to say we all learned something from this, or had a good time, or
whatever, but that would sond just as hollow to me now as it did in the Ryder. Doing it was fun,
and not doing it sucked, and there seemed no way to get that back from reminiscing. Three gigs
had become one gig, and that disappointed us. We unloaded, Aubrey came by, and I dropped Migs off
at his house, and that was it.