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Bloodsucking Vampire Squirrel tour diary part 3 by Travis

pictures of some of these events can be found on the images page.


Aug 15th
Chicago, IL
Fireside Bowl
Yahoo! Last minute gig and we pulled it off. I was determined, despite slim
chances, to try and get us this show. We hadn't been able to set up anything in
Chicago because Ladyfest was going on. In other words, all-girl or girl-fronted
bands, from all over the place were being booked into every available venue, and it
had made it totally impossible for us; the penis-challenged, to get a gig in the
area. After getting pretty well stoned and drunk throughout the day, I decided to
board the bus down to the venue. Met Scott (ex-Small Brown Bike) at the door. I told
him I had talked to Mike from Planes Mistaken for Stars (also penis challenged but
somehow immune to Ladyfest) about getting on this bill, and he directed me toward
their van. As luck should have it, one of the bands (touring with Tora Tora Tora)
had cancelled and there was a slot open. The same band hadn't shown at the party the
night before. I got on the phone quick to Dan's house and told those guys to go get
our shit, pronto. They were totally caught off guard, having not anticipated any
good luck, much less going out. Scott was giving us twenty minutes to be onstage,
and a twenty minute set time. Impossible. Mind you he was doing us a big favor,
anyway, as I'm sure it was against some policy to have us on at all. He said as
much. I'm sure it has something to do with Ascap or something. Tora Tora Tora went
on after waiting far too long for the fellas to show up. Scott seemed apologetic
about the outcome, but I was still scheming to get us in somewhere. I paced around
outside, fretting and pouting, pretty much desparate to play, and counting the
seconds as they slipped past. So many days off was making me frustrated, and I was
pissed I hadn't been able to set up anything at all in Chicago. I ended up
mentioning (as part of a tactic known of secretly in the business as 'namedropping')
that I knew Everett from LDP, and that made Scott warm up.
"You know Everett? I grew up with that kid." Thanks Deep, we owe you one. The
fellas finally got there, but they had terrible news. Jack had the keys to the place
where we were keeping our equipment, and they couldn't get ahold of him, as he was
'on a date', if you know what I mean. Argh! I was still determined. I doubled over
in painful humility and scurried around to all the members of Peralta and Planes and
basically solicited equipment for us to play on. Soliciting is another industry term
that basically equates to begging like a street urchin. They were totally
supportive. Actually they were all probably worried I would have a nervous breakdown
if they refused. Lastly, I had to go and talk to the fellas about playing on
borrowed stuff. Sean has an ethic of not compromising his sound, which is obviously
crucial in a three piece band, and doubly so for ours. We're so badass that any
changes made to these near perfect songs must be considered very gravely. Anyone who
has seen Sean's rig would know that playing without it is definitely a compromise.
His guitar sound is one of the defining aspects of our music as is Migs' structuring
and my bashing and caterwauling. We hashed it out in the van with a calm exactitude
that made me want to burst. On the one hand, we could probably guarantee that the
show would be less than remarkable, and why play if you are not going to be your
best? Especially if it might be putting a lot of folks out. On the other hand, I had
shamelessly arranged everything, so given that the bases were loaded why not step up
to bat? We decided to do it, after all. Peralta lent us use their drums and bass
equipment (thanks Jeff and John). Matt from Planes let us use his guitar and amp.
Fuckin' A these guys are cool, and we owe them all big. And thanks to ToraToraTora
for their patience.
This was our worst sounding gig, as we were totally thrown off by the gear
thing, but it was also the most people we had played for, and all of our friends
from Chicago (who would not get another chance to see us) were there. Some might say
we have a certain virtue in the spirit of our songs, if not the execution. Never so
much as this night in front of a young Chicago crowd. It was tense for a second, but
we muddled through. I dropped a stick, but it almost seemed choreographed. The
distortion was screaming totally out of control like a banshee, but that part was
cool. I smashed up one of the rim mounted mikes, and it fell off and banged around
on the tom for a second. Danny said we had never sounded so 'garage', which I think
he meant as a complement, considering. I told him that we were stoked just to get
the shot at playing in front of a decent audience. It was a great triumph for us,
and for me especially, because I have no shame. Afterward, Migs thanked me for
begging everyone to let us play, and it made all the groveling worth it. On a
strange side note Tara from the Alarm Clocks was running sound. Maybe being from
Albuquerque spared me the admonishing sound engineer lecture about microphone costs
and such. Smaller and smaller this world gets, despite all the goddamn driving.

Aug 16th
We all kindof needed some rest by this point. Sure we had a gig coming up that
night, but the entire day was spent in seperate corners until the dinging of the
bell. We all met at TSONN's practice space and loaded up. Listen kids, I have to
say, things were getting a tad bit surly. We had been drinking pretty regularly, and
coming together in the same place at the same time in kindof a consistent manner,
and it was beginning to cause a little chaffing, if you catch me. Not so much
between any of us, and any of them, as much as between ourselves, and them between
themselves. Dan had this rolling sermonizing bitch session going with Jack about
everything from his job, to his women, to his amp, etc.
"You're fucking priorities are all wrong! Where were you last night?" Dan's
bellowing. I'm a big fan of Dan, but you know everything he says is a superlative.
Its the huggest, or the loudest, or the most ignorant, or whatever. I can't keep up
with the breadth and depth of it. Jack (excuse me, Cupcake) is just shaking his head
and looking around like 'What did I do?' Migs and Sean are barely looking at one
another much less me. Liam has this bloody look of vengeance in his eye. He's
holding a cigarette in one shaky hand, and imagining someone's steaming heart in the
other. He's thinking what I'm thinking, 'Another night with you guys and somebody's
gonna get murdered.' Still we hold on, because we fucking rock. Some bands might
break up because it can get no better. Their energy is spent, and gone, and their
potential is wasted. Our bands would break up because the potential housed in their
cohesive relationship is like a concussion grenade; like a time bomb whose potential
is very far from realized. It ticks and ticks, and ticks all goddamn day, and then
explodes onstage stunning everyone into alcoholism. Right now I feel like a cadaver
from the frontlines. The walking wounded. Once in the van and rolling, things begin
to soften into some sensible rythm. The tour van is like a medic unit to the road
weary musician. No explosives in the tourvan. We gossip a lot about crapski. 'Sexual
escapades are like slipkots and can either tighten uncomfortably, or come undone
effortlessly, depending on who pulls first.' That's the tour quote for this leg. We
run down the list of bands that we've been likened to; Archers of Loaf, Built to
Spill, Fugazi, Rainer Maria, Guided by Voices, Appleseed Cast, Superchunk. The list
goes on. Of course, I love all these bands, and so in some sense I am being told
what I want to hear, but in truth, we don't sound remotely like any of them.
Honestly. Every once in a while it dawns on me how far from home we are. As far as I
have ever been. It dawns on me how far from perfect I've gotten, and I wish the tour
were going better. Still I'm kindof proud to say a tourvan full of gear and friends
got me here. This is the state that (blank for discretion) is from. A former muse of
mine. In this day of practical liberation, I no longer feel comfortable using words
like 'girlfriend'. Maybe Ohio will connect with a few of the words I've written a
little more, somehow.

Columbus, OH
Finally made it to 'Lumbo, and the trip seemed to last for eons. Tried to read
some Ernie Hemmingway, but it made me want to sleep and drink. There was a bit of a
jam, and a convoy of military trucks about twenty miles long. One of the jeeps right
at the front had wrecked and the whole thing had folks gawking like a bunch of
hayseeds at the five legged horse show. Hey, has anyone noticed that most of our
shows have been in houses or basements? Let me tell you, I've been around and from
my experience basements are damp and smelly. All the moisture, and all the odors
from your entire life filter down into the basement, and collect on the brackish
floor. Basements are possessed of a certain honesty. Its better to get a show with
honesty in a basement than to play for an apathetic situation in a club. Clubs vs.
Basements. Thats the experiment right now. The show was at a party in a house near
the campus. Legion of Doom. Been doing shows forever. Caree told me all about it as
we made our way to fabulous Columbus, Ohio. Been doing shows at the house, and
hosting other subversive activities since '82 when it was affectionately known as
'the Dyke House'. Caree knows all about the area, she should be our manager, and put
out our records, at least book our shows here. She doesn't want to focus on music
that way anymore. The fact is that all that managerial shit sucks, and there's
absolutely nothing in it for her. The neighborhood was low rent, and could have
passed admirably for a slum. It was not without its merits. Beer nearby, kids
everywhere, etc. I walked around the party, and tried to meet some folks. They were
all pretty aloof, with the appropriate punk rock gear and everything. I guess its
just too easy to hang out with the folks you think will understand you, versus the
ones you're going to have to make an effort to learn about, and impress with your
knowlege, or rhetoric, or your tattoos or whatever. I don't think my politics are so
different, or my manner of speaking, or expression, but punks in punk houses are
just aloof. Their were no girls. Not hardly at all. The ones I saw looked pretty
brutish. Like they wanted to beat you up for your fucked up politics. The guy who
was running things, Eric, was very cool. He talked to us for awhile, but didn't
appear to have much in common with his roommates.
"A bunch of the housemates are gone on tour, so there's only two left right
now." He had sandals, and a neatly trimmed beard, and wore a button down short
sleeve shirt, and a cap. His roommate had hundred dollars worth of stainless jewelry
in his face, five hundred dollars worth of shitty tattoos, was dressed all in black,
and looked like he'd been beaten up by one of the girls about. We unloaded as the
guys from the other bands showed up. They came pushing their equipment down the
alley from somewhere not far off. Another good thing about being in a neighborhood
is that you don't have to go far to see friends. We had been drinking already so we
were a bit loud and boisterous. I think we scared them all off. Especially Dan. He's
kindof imposing when he gets drunk. You start to worry about which way he's gonna
fall.
Japanther went on first. I caught about half of it. Sampling and keyboards.
Kindof an experimental audio attack. Next was us, and we belted it out. There was a
decent response. Everywhere there is mention of the novelty of a drummer/lead vocal,
which annoys me. To me our sound is built on the guitars, and nobody gives it enough
credit. We kindof played it up for the kids with a little showmanship. Good thing
about basements is that it always seems crowded. Lauren Hospital was next I'm pretty
sure. They were fucking phenomenal. Jason the singer bouncing around in this stance
with his bass held up like a crucifix to banish the vamps, and werewolves, and such.
The drummer crashing with (truly) drunken abandon. They were great. The guitarists
tuned down to C#. It gave em this kindof atonal theme throughout their set, the
energy of which was relentless. Jason said something about being dressed for
success, or disuised as a republican, or something, and that they were going to tour
the Pro-Life circuit, which was all a joke about the fact that he had shaved, I
guess. He usually has this scary beard, or so I'm told. They were great, anyhow, and
one of my favorites of the tour. Check out their split with Last day Parade. South
of No North went on next. They were a little sloppy at first, but then something
went wrong with Danny's guitar and the shit hit the fan. He grabbed the mike, and
started careening around, singing the song like some malfunctioning lunatic. It was
total wrock and wroll. He fell on the floor, and screamed from a prostrate position
while the crowd encouraged him with wanton displays of drunken vitality. Dan pulled
himself up after the song ended, and apologized and fixed his guitar, but the energy
was hot now. They blasted through the set all running into one another, and swinging
around like maniacs barely missing each other with their instruments. Kraska jumped
up on his drumset, and beat the cymbals while crouching over them like a hunchback
Quasimoto ringing the bells. They were shoving each other round the stage, jockeying
for the mike inbetween their parts, and jumping out of the way of flying guitar
necks after each completed verse. The set crashed to an end, and Liam threw his bass
down, rattling the timbers of the house. Getting off stage you could have cut their
tension with anything. Dan asked me how it came off, and I told him that they traded
a little tightness for a lot of charisma, which he accepted. Liam and Jack seemed a
little miffed, being a little shorter than Danny, and more prone to injury. Nick
later made a comment about their post show experience being much like porno sex.
When you have porno sex with someone, there's no real desire to cuddle afterwards.
The bell dings again, and you go to your nuetral corners. The last band was GC5, and
they kindof had that old nostalgic punk sound like the Clash, or Sham 69. Almost
like an Oi band. But hell Hot Water Music sounds like an Oi band to me, so what the
fuck do I know? Its times like these that I wonder about our Rock'n'Roll appeal. In
some ways our band is not as structurally aggressive as some of the bands we've been
playing with, like Planes Mistaken for Stars, and Sacco&Vanzetti, and tonights show
with Lauren Hospital. We just have a soft spot for the R'n'R presence versus the
idiosynchronization. Don't bother looking that up, its brand new. They finished up
and we talked for awhile, and then started to reconoiter for food. I found Sean in
the van talking on the phone to Sarah. His penis was big, I saw it. Its hard to miss,
because Sean's pretty well hung. We all loaded up again, and drove to have pizza. On
the way over, Jason rode with us and the topic came up that some girl was going to
give Jason a slice of pie.
"The one with the braces."
"How old is she?"
"She's seventeen, and she wants me." The whole lot of us fell into a terrible
vision of lust. Jack, Nick, Dan, Sean, Migs, Liam, Jason, and I; all of us guilty,
for one reason or another. Like the ten villains on the Orient Express each one
stabbing the sweet cadaver in our minds. Jason had options. He could trade rent for
sex, and pizza. Next thing you know Jason and Dan are making out in the van! One
minute there's all this talk abut sixteen year old girls, and its getting all hot
and bothered in the TSONN van. All these leches calling for the defilement of the
bracefaced beauty like a gaggle of drunken senators at the Colisseum with their
thumbs pointing downward in judgement, then Dan and Jason are sprawled out on the
floor in liplock. I think Dan asked Jason if he was gay, or something, and Jason
says, "I'm not gay but I'll make out with you." The next thing you know, we're all
either amused, or uncomfortable. At this point its all just about r'n'r. I wish I
could say something great about rock and roll. I'm getting older, but I'm still
grasping for the brass ring of youth. Fall off the pony, fall off the wagon, fall on
your face. 'Heroine' by Velvet Underground is playing on the pizza joint's jukebox.
I know all the words as do countless thousands elsewhere. I just love music. So many
people convinced its about sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. I understand the
ideology behing the undoing of that stereotype, because its not the only plot. The
punks are up to a little bit of that deconstruction, but only as much as they afford
for themselves. Rock and Roll must be destructive to be truly appreciated. The
goddamned burnout, feeding on tension, bastard son of nihilism, futility, survival,
and spirtualism of the motherfucking blues. Nuff said.
I'm glad we had pizza, because I was starving. Back at the house we drank a
little more. 'Hey, we have neighbors!' was the quote of the evening, in response to
Dan's relentless caterwauling. Some crusty dirtyfoot punker had been forced to
admonish Dan for being unruly. Kindof ironic, if you ask me. I guess anarchy just
ain't what its cracked up to be. Dan was bitching about not being able to follow us
to St.Louis and play the next night because of Jack's obligation to his job. On the
one hand Dan is fixing to lose his job at the Metro as a security guy, and on the
other hand he's trying to talk Jack out of his job at the rock-n-roll shop.
Subsequntly Jamie and Jack don't work at the same rock shop, but two different
competing rock shops. Geez.
"Your neighbors are smoking crack! Its crack, man! Try it its great." Dan
retorts at the pissed off crusty punker. The punk rock brigade just doesn't impress
me. Nor do we do much for them. Surely they must realize its just another look,
uniform, etc. They all think they're skirting society's rules, but they are just as
demanding of the same basic understanding. Its not seperate, and not peculiarly
remarkable, and the deeper they get, the more they'll realize someday that its still
just rock and roll. Columbus was pretty real neveretheless. Nobody was too nice. Its
seems obvious that we were not all weened on hardcore, and thirtyone years old is a
sin to some of these kids. Frankly, 'Fuck the World' is not an acceptable ideology,
as far as I'm concerned. Fuck yourself asshole. They don't want to relate to the
world because it cheapens the experience they crave, diluting their assumed
identity. Their bastard identity. At best they still end up being part of the same
society. Instead they simply become the redheaded step child of America.
["Punk is whatever we make it to be."-D Boon]

Aug 17th
Woke up badly. Feel as though I had been beaten up the night before, possibly by
that same brutish riot grrl that kicked the asses of all the other guys laying
around this joint. All of us sprawled out with a half dozen other travellers (going
to some emofest in Minneapolis) on the floor of the living room. I opened my eyes to
see a little insipid kitten shitting in a litter box three feet from my head. It
kicked a little sand onto its offal, and a little onto the floor in front of my
face. Good morning, hellish reality. The damned shitty little vermin had kept me up
all night. I had used my arms for a pillow. I had carpet marks all over my body, and
cat litter smashed into my face. Ah, Jesus Christ, forgive me my transgressions, and
I swear I'll never sin again. We congealed outside in a wobbly mass with all of the
bands and Caree, and Eric Redpath. He took us to a place called the Blue Danube for
breakfast. Right down the street from an Ethiopan place called the Blue Nile. No
Ethiopian for breakfast, please. It was to be bacon and eggs for us. Getting
breakfast eventually proved to be one of the most laborious processes of the entire
tour. Hours in the making. The breakfast club manuever just did not seem to be
working. I felt like shit on a stick. The coffee took forever to get there and
tasted like brown crayon. What the fuck did they have back there in the kitchen?
Some insidious machine for squeezing each coffee bean individually, or what. A huge
breakthrogh in frustration and annoyance. Individually squeezed coffee beans, and
hand rolled cheerios. Old world technology brought to you by the folks at the Blue
Danube. Ethiopian was sounding better every second. Finally it all came. I had a
small something, and ate the rest of Caree's whatever-it-was as she could not finish
it. Truth to tell I had run completely out of money, which is prone to happening to
me at the worst times. Come to think of it all my worst times are defined by running
out of money. How much worse can you be than broke? A lot worse I guess, but you see
where I'm going. Broke is the first step to all those other places. We went outside
and took a few pics before we split. South of No North would be playing CMJ in a few
weeks. They had an opening slot with Good Riddance at the Metro next month. I'm glad
to say we will probably never play with Good Riddance, but I'm also happy for them
as well. We all got as mushy, huggy, and as sappy as we could stand to get in the
harsh daylight, and then we climbed in the van and took off. So long fellas, see you
in the funny papers.
Columbus is hard as hell to escape. We drove by three signs for highway 71
within three blocks all pointing different directions. We had to circumvent the
fairgrounds which were hopping with inbred bucktoothed hog farmers for the state
fair (come to see the five legged horse show). It was insane, and brightly lit.
Finally we got on the road. The good times seemed spent in the sweltering haze of
Ohio. We were left to the lonely insecurities of dearly departed friends. 'What did
he mean when he said that? What did they say when I was gone? What went on in the
other room?' TSONN had been in fine/foul form. Dan mad at Jack, Liam mad at Dan,
Nick hating them all. Beautiful. Still they were doing it. Its strange when you have
to split up with old friends. I thought about it a long while quietly in the
passenger seat.
Some people are lovers. Some people are fighters. I exist in the patheitc
substrata beneath these gallant figures. I have weak teeth and small hands. Lovable
loser, Failure with Heart in Right Place. Built from spare parts and Good
Intentions. They say that the road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions. Hey, if
hell is where our good intentions are taking us, then ride with me, we'll have a few
laughs (and a few beers) on the way. Sean has his dedicated lover on the phone in
one hand and his huge member in the other, Migs is Rusky for Casanova, and I'm up
here singing songs about my shitty heart. Its pathetic. If I had ten great songs
about one fantastic woman, that would almost be something admirable. Instead I have
ten songs about ten different women, and that doesn't make for 'happily ever after'.
My heart is not a pincusion to be pierced again and again by some steely device. Its
more like a rotten apple, sticky and decayed, and alcoholic. Its rotting; soft and
vinegary right now, but soon the hard pit of it will crack and something beautiful
and green, and complex will come out. I've heard that in the forest some seeds must
be burnt to a cinder before they will crack and reveal a sprout. How about that.
I want to go to Europe. Three or four of the bands we've talked to are going
overseas in the next few months to tour. You need label support to pull that off.
You need a press pack to get label attention. Yo need a decent recording to go with
your presspack. I hear they have a penis enlargement clinic over in Europe.
Somewhere in Sweden. I'm so jealous. Of coure what good is a huge member if you're
lying face first in cat litter. Sorry fellas no matter how hard you pull it won't
get bigger. Jealousy, although negative, is not necessarily an inaffective
motivator. Unfortunately it can serve a purpose blindly. If the purpose is
pointless, best not follow blindly. Still, I'd like to get over to Europe. I doubt
they've heard of my heart problems.

St. Louis, MO
I slept for awhile, which was good. Now we are in St. Louis. We confirmed the
Tin Ceiling a couple of days ago, and Sean got directions last night. We are now
entering the full-on endrun to home base. There's an air of desperation in the van,
or maybe just beer funk and blackened pits. We're playing with two local bands
called the Shampoo Sharks and Broken. Don't have any idea what they'll sound like,
but hey, that's half the fun. Unless something extraordinary takes place, our plan
is to play this show and then drive on to KC to meet Dan Duhigg. This is one of the
stops we've been looking forward to, on account of Dan is an old friend of the
family, and he's studying osteopathic medicine. In laymen's terms he's gonna give us
all backrubs. Sweet.
Got to the club, which is a neighborhood theatre type thing. They do shows for
the kids. No alcohol. There are some kids hanging out front. Very young. Nate from
the Shampoo Sharks, plays guitar, and we met the drummer as well. There was a kid
named Steve from a band called Spectre. He seemed cool and was trying to get on the
show with us because one of the bands, Broken, had broken up. Ha ha, get it. Anyway,
all irony aside, Spectre wanted to play, but the owner manager type dude was not
enthusiastic. I tried to put in a good word, given that we'd rode in on the best gig
of the tour three nights earlier, but to no avail. It seemed like the two of them
might have had some ill repore. Nate asked what kindof music we played, and I told
him it was like indy, or the 'real rock 'n' roll', or whatever, and then asked him
the same question. "We've invented our own style of music. Its just...just...well,
you'll just have to check it out."
We went ahead and loaded in and set up while still more folks showed up. Its
always hard for me to guess anyone's age, but you know its bad when they all look at
YOU differently, like they damn sure just guessed your age within three years, and
then built an imaginary wall around you. I made a mental note that St. Louis would
be full of beautiful women in about four years. We played, and goddamn did the
humidity kick my ass. It made everything heavier. We might have frightened some of
the youths, they seemed either indifferent, or unimpressed. The second band went on,
and it was the remaining member of Broken. He did his thing, which was half of what
it had been planned as, so I avoided it. Then the headliners, the Shampoo Sharks,
went on. What was touted as a wholly original style ended up being a pretty
unimaginative rehashing of the old (oompa oompa oompapa) ska punk theme replete with
goofy dancing extra singer guy (who did really bad things like hold up signs and try
to skank on the tiny stage), and a decent horn section (the only redeeming ractor).
Argh!!! News for these kids; sell your horn section to cruise liner and put
yourselves through college. However I must admit, all the fifteen and sixteen year
old girls loved it. I felt very old, and too careless to live in these environs.
Maybe clubs were safer for us, more like castles and less like cells. Fortresses to
protect us from the youths, not vice versa.
We sold a bunch of stuff, and got paid decent at the door. Thank goodness. Sean
came up with the idea that we should go and get a hotel room, and get cleaned up
instead of driving straight on to KC. Didn't sound like a bad idea to me. After last
night on a concrete floor with Attila the Cat ruthlessly attacking my heels, a shit
shower and shave stop sounded just fine. This was the last leg of a three legged
tour. Too hot in the punk club. Oww, I have to kiss myself! I talked to a beautiful
girl at the club and I desperately wanted to kiss her. Georgeous. She was very
sweet, and I think she was sixteen. We're driving straight through to KC after all.
Katie was the girls name, and she was very sweet. Tonights show did not add to my
favorites list. Perata, Tora Tora Tora, Sacco&Vanzetti, Planes Mistaken for Stars,
Lauren Hospital, Fed by Fiction, South of No North. That's a fun list. Sean is
getting text sex on is cell phone. Relentless. We're experiencing serious rain as I
speak. Lots of it. Big angry battalions of it. Art of War says, 'If it rains all
day, it will not rain at night, and if it rains all night it will not rain in the
daytime.' Wise shit, yo. Miguel turns off the radio, and says, "Driving in heavy
traffic, and heavy rain at eleven at night requires total concentration." Now that's
some modern wisdom for you. It hasn't rained this hard since the Ghost Tracks out at
the Secret Lake, but we have a blocker in the fast lane, and we're making good time.
KC here we come.

Kansas City
Dan is home when we get there. We unload and I retire quietly while Sean gets
on the net, and Migs sits up with Dan for awhile. I sleep uneasily.

Aug 18th
Disappointed already. I called Cole this morning, and he has apparently dropped
the ball. We'll be lucky if we have anything for this show. This throws everything
into tension and turmoil. Migs is able to cover up any chagrin with Dan's company,
but Sean seems very disappointed. This really sucks. Cole is my friend from a former
band, and I haven't seen him in five years or so, and it looks like he may have
dropped the ball, and I feel responsible. I get him on the phone and he's already
apologizing; that's a bad sign.
"I start my new teaching job this week, and its my mom's birthday, but I'll try
to get something together, I promise." Honestly I couldn't care less, but I'm not
the only one in the van so. I'd say we could use another day off, but that's
bullshit, we need to play to make each day worthwhile. Otherwise this is a very
expensive vacation to all the worst neighborhoods in the midwest. Sean has to get a
bunch of work done for the company he works for, so Dan D., Migs, and I head to the
open air market to get veggies for lunch. The company Sean works for has been
gracious enough to supply him witha laptop from which he can fulfill his employment
obligations. On the one hand it sucks because he has responsibilities to attend, and
on the other it rocks because he's getting paid to tour, in a way. The laptop has
come in extremely handy in getting directions and such. Talk about a double edged
sword.
After some quick car maintanence from Migs on Dan D's car we're off across KC.
Its kindof a dirty town, at least what we saw of it, which I liked. Downtown, the
jazz district, the campus area all looked thoroughly lived in. The jazz district was
cool, but smaller than I had imagined it would be in Kansas City, part of the
legendary American jazz circuit. There were big murals of Satchmo, and Bird, and
Coltrane, and Miles, and Ella Fitzgerald, and many others. All the open brick walls
seemed to be painted with musical heroes and jazz pioneers. We parked and went into
the market which was behind a mall. It was cool. There were about a dozen different
slices of the American pie there. Amish, Mennonite, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Rastas;
hippies, young professionals, farmers, students, and neighborhood kids all walking
around sampling, and hawking the best deals on vegetables and herbs, and fruits, and
such. I had a buttered corncob on a stick while we strolled through the stands.
There were fritters and cotton candy too, like at the fair. I asked one guy how
business was. He was selling us some corn that had never been sprayed with
pesticides. "See." He peeled back the tip of the ear revealing a little caterpillar
munching the baby kernels at the top. "Don't worry", he said, "They don't take much.
But I'd have to say business is slow today," he said, fingering the big golden cross
on his chest. "The air show in town, and the fair, and all." Of course I forgot to
mention that the Blue Angels (of Death) were having a display of unbridled military
might at the airforce base in KC. They had been screaming back and forth across the
city sending vets into shell shocked convulsions all day. We get enough of flying
arsenals in Albuquerque to suit me. Jet pilots + flying arsenals = burning bodies +
piles of rubble. Its disturbing my peace.
We get back to Dan Duhigg's house and meet his neighbors. This little
Vietnamese woman and her vet husband. She brings out this little jar to show us.
"There's a pearl inside, and I'm letting it to grow for awhile," she says.
"My girl thinks if you put a pearl in the jar with some ocean water and sand
from the beach, that the pearl will grow. Har har. They got all kinda superstitions
over there. I seen a bunch of families living in huge treehouses, no shit."
"The fish is good luck." She says, pointing into the little pond in front of
the porch. A tiny orange fish darts back and forth above the pale blue painted
concrete. I walk down to the beer store, and pass the Huong Que market (Phillipino),
the Tafiq Halad market (Muslim), and Mi Casita Carniceria (Hispanic) all on the same
street. I'm starting to like KC more and more. Apparently the city is expansive with
four seperated quadrants. This one is my favorite so far. I go into the store and
buy a couple of beers and notice this eight pack of eight ounce beers. Little
diminutive beer cans like baby beers. KC even has their own beer cans. On the way
home I buy a kitchy Hawaiian shirt for a quarter at a garage sale.
"I bought that at the Tropicana in Las Negas Nevada for thirty dollars." The
old lady says. The garage sale looks like a permanent addition to their front yard.
Walked down to the Kennedy Monument near Dan's house. Spray painted all over with
the names of folks who don't honor Kennedy. They have other dead to honor. The
monuments get old and crumble, losing their meaning and value, which poses the
question, 'How eternal is that Flame, Jack?' Almost forty years past, not even an
instant to Eternity, and already the monuments are crumbling. What a waste of time
to build these concrete piles. The weeds will outlive them and eventually recapture
this dale from this rotting edifice. It'll be a nice little picnic spot again. If
some picnicers had sex here maybe that would be a fitting memorial to Jack Kennedy.
Sean asks about the show as soon as I get back. "Doesn't look good." I say.
What a drag. We had hoped to play with Sky Burial, which is my friend Cole's
experimental band. I'm not sure how experimental they are, but it sucks regardless
if we don't play. We eat some yummy vegetables thanks to Dan D., and head to Cole's.
There is definitely no show when we get there. The warehouse where Cole lives is in
the middle of the Bottoms, which is the old cowtown of KC. You can imagine cowhands
pushing cattle down the dirtroads inbetween the monolithic brick buildings. Not as
large as the prefab warehouses of today, but impressive for little red bricks
anyway. The structures in this section date as far back as the mid eighteen hundreds
when Kansas City was a hub of the cattle industry. Expansive brick buildings with
tier and beam construction. Cole's space is right next to a wood lot that salvages
old growth timber from the rubble of these delapidated buildings for custom
flooring. The stuff costs an arm and a leg, but there are folks who keep extra arms
and legs handy for just this kindof crap. The landlord supports this artist studio
in the space adjacent and above the mill. Cool huh? More illegal art spaces. Gotta
love that unzoned aspect. The Bottoms is subsequently right next to the river and
about a hundred feet lower than the rest of KC. Cole tells us that the neighborhood
has flooded as deeply as fifty feet in the sixties. Three floors for most of these
buildings. Hard to believe as we stand on the roof beneath seven and eight story
walls to either side that they were submerged in water up to their middles, and only
a few inches beneath our feet. The studio proper is an awesome open room with a
partitioned bathroom and kitchen at one end. There are apartments downstairs, and
the amenities are communal. The entire space has a vaulted ceiling and is
approximately forty or fifty feet by a hundredfifty feet. It is filled entirely with
instruments of all sorts both invented and traditonal. Old drumsets, and bizarre
percussion, keyboards, and amps, saxophones, and didgereedoos, and weird crap (for
lack of a better term) all over the place. Just a plethora of musical and audio
recording equipment, along with different types of art in every space that isn't
filled with insrtuments. Pretty hard to describe it all, but a genuinely awesome
assortment of gadgetry and paraphenalia on display. Alas no rock show. We are
disappointed. Both Migs and Sean are angry; probably with me. Its just easier for me
to deal with that by being quiet than to try to pep them up. That old 'look on the
bright side' routine only goes so far. They decide eventually to head back to Dan's,
and I stay to gab with Cole until the wee hours of the morn, whiich is probably the
best thing that could happen. I've got the feeling my job as booking agent is now
forfeited. We'll have to try it some other way when we try it again. I can't say
that it bothers me that much. I'm not that thrilled by disappointment either, having
done a fair share of the preparation.
Cole and I had a lot of catching up to do. He doesn't look a day older than the
last time I saw him five years ago, so he must be living well. I met Sterling, the
guitarist for Sky Burial, and Tammy, who is Cole's girl friend. They both have
spaces in the studio, and were all mostly nice, but acted a bit as if they had heard
too much about me. Do you know what I mean? When you haven't seen someone in years
and the only thing their friends know about you has been related in story form. Cole
gave me a book about the relationship between water and the desert as a gift, or
maybe an apology, I'm not sure.

Aug 19th
We woke up and Cole and I went to have breakfast at someplace in the Bottoms
called YJ's. It was a little small and busy, but the coffee was good, and the
potatoes as well. They were spiced with rosemary, and pepper. Delicious. Cole's
doing great here, and I think KC would be a nice place to live, if I hadn't already
found a nice place to live. The Bottoms is like a living museum with its delapidated
structures, and adopted arist community. The neighborhood where Dan lives is
pleasantly slummy, which can be fun. I forgot to mention I had seen a bunch of kids
riding around on the hood of their car screaming and flinging empty beer cans into
the dirty yards. Love that shit. Cole's place was the second space to dazzle me with
studio life. I was amazed and jealous. It made me long for the days at the Red Door.
They were very constructive for us as a band. We got back to the space and I got
ahold of the fellas and we got out of town. After we got out of town Migs started
discussing KC, and the whole booking fiasco. He was pretty pissed, or maybe he'd
decided to voice something that was lingering in all of our minds. Anyway, my worst
fears were happily realized. I would not be booking the next tour, thank God. Its
really the most unpleasant part of the whole tomato. The thankless, bullshit part.
It boiled down to 'let's get someone to book us some real shows'. I'm only too glad
to oblige. Denton was our next show, and second from the last of this tour.
The drive across Oklahoma and Texas was unpleasant as well. Goddamn hot, and
humid. Hitting the full weight of the heatwave here made me thankful we had missed
most of it in the midwest. We came to the Texas border, and that meant we had a
short distance to go. The drive ended up being shorter than we had imagined, and we
would be in town early. We talked about bands on the way. Local bands, our band,
musical challenges, timing, breathing, relaxing. Metronomes, our favorite players.
Migs wants me to play to a clicktrack. Sean wants Migs to play guitar. Finding a
decent bassist would be hard, and so on, and so forth.

Denton, TX
Went down to Fry St. and got coffee at Karma Cafe. We were dismayed to find
that Brian, from Mandarin, whom we would be playing with later, had closed his
record store. Terrible news. I had planned on hooking up with those guys through
Brian, and now he was nowhere to be found. There's a large uninformed man tearing
out the wall of his record store, but no Brian. Evidence of more bad planning on my
part. I tried to get ahold of Rob from the other band, Raised by Tigers. No luck. I
vaguely knew of the club's whereabouts, so we went over there. The club, called
Mabel Peabody's Chainsaw Repair and Cocktail Lounge, has been a gay bar in Denton
since before I was in highschool (ages and ages ago). One of the only places other
than Rubber Gloves to book shows. There's a picture of three triangular dancing
martini glasses with pink liquid in them and chainsaws in their cartoon hands on the
front of the building. Pink triangles, get it? They told us that Heather, the
booking agent there, wouldn't be in until later when they were open for business, so
we left and drove around and kindof split up on Fry St, for awhile. We rendezvoused
at Mr.Chopstix, which has become a mainstay for our visits to Denton. I saw this
girl Jackie there that used to hang in the scene when I was around, but I forgot her
name, and she scowled at me. I'm really bad with names. Sorry. Drove over to our
friend Paul's house, and he said he hadn't heard a thing about the show at all.
Arrrgghh!!! I was starting to feel really sick. Luckily Paul had some dank, so we
got stoned as hell, and that made everything a little nicer. We went back to the
club and sat around in the parking lot drinking beers. I finally got ahold of Rob,
and his band couldn't play. I was flabbergasted. Rob seemed to think that he had
notified me, but he hadn't (I checked my emails later). I had been looking forward
to these two shows (KC and Denton) to help get us through the end of the tour and
get us home safe. I had booked them both through friends that I more or less
trusted. One had fallen through completely, and now the other was collapsing before
my eyes. Inside the club I talked to Heather (never a sweeter or more apologetic
agent have I encountered) who gave me even more bad news. Brian, whose record store
had closed, had also quit Mandarin (the headliner) about a week before, and she was
not sure that they were going to be able to play, either. Disaster. The fellas
seemed to depress in front of me like two balloons with pinholes in them, and we
went outside to talk. Migs became very aggitated as if there were something that
needed to be done. Some sort of failure to communicate. Somebody was going to get
clobbered, it was merely a case of narrowing down the target. I got real depressed
at this point myself. Goddamn bad ending for a so-so tour. Rob showed up and I
bitched at him. Can you believe it? Poor guy didn't deserve it, but I was
approaching my third or fourth breakdown, having shouldered some fictional
responsibility for everything. The three of us just sulked and avoided each other
while we waited to go on. After awhile some fellas came up, and we saw it was
Mandarin, which was good news. It turned back into bad news when they told us that
they hadn't really advertised the show. "We've got all new songs, since Brian left,
and we're not that solid yet, so we just didn't flier." What's wrong with these
people? Who cares if your set is a little rocky? We're on tour here, we're gonna be
fucked. The last minute opener went on and she was amazing. Fatastically beautiful
girl who played acoustic and sang. Amazing guitarist with all these jazzy folk
licks, and singing and soloing two different converging leads. Mesmerizing and
charismatic. Very affectitious singing style, jamming all this jazzy, then folksy,
then bluesy shit on guitar, and banging out precussive accompaniment on the
fretboard and sides of her git, and all sorts of wierd innovative shit like that.
Annie Clark was her name. I told her afterwards that she was really great, and she
left almost immediately. What the hell? Stupid girl, she'd better change her name to
DiFranco Clark, or something. Someone told me later that she was only eighteen years
old, and had to go to school in the morning! Past her bedtime! Har har. I felt bad
for a second for being so shitty, and then reconsidered. I was so lost when I was
eighteen, why should I feel bad for her? She was amazing. We played next, and the
show seemed driven by the angst building inside us. Might have been one of our
better shows, but I could not judge it in my state of mind. Everything sucked as far
as I could tell. Mandarin went on, and they were impressive. They traded bass
duties, and fleshed out a half dozen or more songs with a meandering guitar driven
texture that somewhat revealed their relative newness, and equally revealed their
brilliance as a band. The songs came off beautifully; more so than they probably
would have admitted. Some deft lighting added to the hypnotic quality or their
music. Look for pics on the images page of the website. I was stoked, and in the end
it seemed like there were actually a few people there to see it. By the time
everything was done, there was a lot less tension, and a little more comraderie. We
actually got paid alright (gas money yahoo) considering, and everyone seemed to
lighten up a lot by the end of it. We saw Paul, and he had told us earlier in the
day that we could stay with him, so we ended up at his house, smoking and drinking
till late. He had just lost his job, but his cats were happy so he couldn't care
less. Saw John Durbin, and Baseera Khan, and Kate, and Bill. Hey kids its nice to
see old familiar faces, come visit in Albuquerque sometime. We stayed up late
talking about old times. I won't bore you with crap about Denton, cause I could
write a book about that.

Aug 20th
Needless to say we woke up surly as we had nearly every day before this one. I
imagine sailers behaving much tghe smae way. Sean's pop Larry was a sailor, so there
you go, its hereditary. We had one more show to do before home, and that perhaps
helped to make each little thing more tolerable. Into the van and onward ho. The
drive from Denton to Amarillo is shitty. Nothing else to say about West Texas. It
sucks all the way up and down that whole area. Austin and Denton are the only two
places in Texas I really like. Everythng else can go staight to hell. Except for my
grandma who lives in Bronte. I started trying to get ahold of Amanda right off the
bat, as it would not take long to get there. Amanda was nowhere to be found. I left
a message on her cell.

Amarillo, TX
I had directions to Amanda's house, so we headed over there and caught a couple
of her roomies hanging on the couch. "Is this Amanda's house?" I asked.
"Yep."
"Is there a show here tonight?"
"No, I don't think so." I'm not really going to bother describing the dull
horror of it. 'No stay of execution' is the only thing I can think of. None of the
roommates had any idea that we were coming. Amanda was at work and would be for
quite some time. I got ahold of her, and she said that she thought we would be
through on the thirtieth, not the twentieth. Argh, fuck, shit! Well we sat around
stewing for awhile. One of the roomies was moving to Portland with her boyfriend the
next day. Kit was her name. She seemed willing to let us play a show anyhow, and
they said they'd cook us food which sounded awesome to me, but the fellas were
having none of it. Migs had that 'whose getting clobbered' look all over again, only
not as confused about who as the night before. Oh ye of little faith, had not we
struggled through to this point? They were going to let us play, and feed us. What
more could we ask for? Alas we piled into the van to the sound of Migs'
comiserating, and took off; homeward bound. A few miles outside of Amarillo when my
blackened mood had reached its pinnacle, Amanda called and apologized for getting
the dates mixed up. She had read her calendar wrong, or read the email wrong, anyway
it let me off the hook. I put Migs on the phone with her, and he let her know our
position in a more businesslike manner than I could've managed. She told us that
Yellow City Art Gallery would be open soon and that we would have a decent show next
time, and apologized some more, and so on and so on. About ten minutes later we
realized it was all over, and all we had to look forward to was home, and the same
old shit, and we started to get all sappy. We started talking about how much fun it
was, and how much better it would be next time.

Albuquerque NM
We divided the remaining band fund (which we had kept serperated from our
personal money) betweent the three of us, which was fifty dollars split three ways.
Sure, we had spent all of our personal money, but we had a little left in the
general fund. That seemed some measure of success for me, despite the fact that I
owed Migs twenty bucks. I think he and I ended up at Sprockets drinking beer for
awhile, while Sean headed over to Sarah's house to be near her before she left town.
It hadn't been all we'd hoped for, of course. The end of the tour had been dismal,
at best. Most of the bands were mediocre save for those I've mentioned. We hadn't
gotten paid much, and had put ourselves individually into the hole, but it wasn't
all bad. We had the single, and a fine strapping young single it was. We had toured
with, and played for friends we hadn't seen in over a year. We had Kansas City and
Amarillo cancel, but we had added St. Louis and Chicago. It was a learning
experience, that's for sure. Stay tuned. Check out the pics, and some new links from
the tour.

Chicago Il
Fireside Bowl
Tora Tora Tora
Peralta
Planes Mistaken For Stars
(look for these contacts on our links page)

Columbus OH
Legion of Doom:1579 Indianola
Columbus, OH43201
(614)421-1269
Eric Redpath: dirtpath@hotmail.com
Japanther
Lauren Hospital
South of No North: www.thesouthofnonorth.com
GC5: Doug's# (216)544-4742

St. Louis
Tin Ceiling
JC Scott Dorough: jc_kcfv@hotmail.com

Denton TX
Mabel's
Heather: Pearlfish11@aol.com
Annie Clark
Mandarin: mandarin5@yahoo.com
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