Friday, June 30, 2006

In which Birdmonster remembers the outside world, plays the City That Reads, and takes far too long to talk about it

Children and animals: we don't see much of either
these days. Not that we see many of the latter in
San Francisco; in fact, we boast the lowest
percentage of whippersnappers in the entire
country. But that's the thing about living in bars:
your life is twenty-somethings, Pabst, ringing
ears, and the ocassional moron who really, really
wants you to understand how black metal he is.
You forget that children exist anywhere besides
gas stations, obviously their natural habitat. Kids
love petrol. It's a proven fact.

Yesterday, though, we saw a few. In Baltimore
(The City That Reads, they say), we had a few
hours to do the tourist thing, eat food that wasn't
battered or covered in cook's hair, and just
casually cruise the harbor. In other words, we
returned to the normal world, where there are old
people, dogs, children, and sunlight not filtered
through the windshield of the Whaleship Essex.
Glorious stuff, the outside world. Almost makes
you want to pull a Thoreau before you remember
he was a tool and a fraud and a member of the
monied leisure class who just went camping for a
few months and got famous. Johnny Appleseed:
such a better outdoorsman idol. He wore a
gunnysack, you know. And he was basically just a
frontier bartender, since all those apples were
just for cider in the first place. Now, that's a
higher calling. I think I'll wear a gunnysack for
tonight's show. You have to make a fashion
statement in New York, right? Tonight: a
gunnysack, red galloshes, powdered, British judge
wig. Be there.

Anyway, I digress. As usual. Let's talk about
Baltimore. After an early soundcheck (so as not to
interrupt Jello Biafra's ramblings next door), doing
the tourist thing, we played a show that's
certainly a tour highlight thus far. There were
youngsters there too and by God, they rocked out.
An enthusiastic three or four dozen is far superior
to hundreds of arm-crossed, grimace-sporting
scowlers who aren't quite sure if you're cool
enough to enjoy. It was one of those feel-good
evenings where I end up limping and grinning like
Kirk Gibson in '88 and they end up throwing
everyone out because nobody's left by the time
last call's expired. Thanks Baltimore. That was

I'm navigating the Whaleship today, so I'm going to
split rather abruptly. Until soon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In which Birdmonster lives a life of pampered privilege, remembers vegitables, and rocks out for some shoppers

If I had to do a seven deadly sins checklist for
this tour, I would've been doing fine. I would've
been up in heaven playing canasta with Jesus,
flirting with Mother Theresa, and high-fiving God
like the ending of Tango & Cash. At least, I
would've been fine until North Carolina. We stayed
at Dave's pappy's house in Raleigh, where I spent
two days being the poster boy for sloth and
gluttony and the lesser known eight cardinal vice:
unadulterated uselessness. But we needed it. We
needed vegitables that hadn't spent three years in
a dented can, a bed free of spine-gouging springs,
and thirty hours free of the Whaleship Essex. It
was glorious. And free. Which are a fantastic
couple. Like raspberries and dark chocolate. Who,
really, can say anything against hedonism? And if
this means I'l be spending eternity listening to 98
Degrees with Lizzy Borden, well, that's just the
way the cookie crumbles. At least it was a
delicious cookie.

We fled this leisurely paradise this morning in order
to play in Norfolk, Virginia, which we can call ol'
Virginny, if only to quote the Band for the second
time in as many weeks. We played at a record
store slash venue slash cafe slash internet hub
called Relativity Records for a nice handful of
shoppers who, when we started did in fact quit
browsing, bob around and, dare I say, dance. I like
folks who dance, regardless of whether they
should be. Like, for instance, I really should never
try. I have three moves: the matador stomp, the
clap-thing, and...ok. Perhaps I have two. The point
(if indeed there is one): rug cutting is good. Not a
controversial statement, but, come on, I spent
two days eating chicken, reading Michael Malone,
and playing pool. You gotta allow for a tangent or

And you know what? It was a great show. Sure,
my bass made that crackly, death rattle sound
that makes me want to euthanize it, but CR from
the Talk gifted me his, which I didn't slam the
tamborine on (to his pleasure I'm sure) or drop or
abuse in any real way. We're trying to get to
Baltimore early to remedy that annoyance and I
pray we can. I mean, there are only three more
shows. It must be cosmic punishment for deeds
enumerated in paragraph one. God's playing dirty.
No more tithes for you, sassafras.

Tomorrow: Maryland. Then the big city. I guess, in
reality: The Big City. It's been a while for me.
Last time I was in New York I demonstrated an
incompetence so startling on those rowboats in
Central Park that small children pointed and
guffawed. And I do not use that word lightly.

Monday, June 26, 2006

In which Birdmonster details further Nashville-ian exploits, revists Cincinnatti, and dotes on an invisible Rademacher

There have been times when I've bemoaned evolution. The day I came back from the dentist with two less teeth, a mouthful of gauze, loopy on pain meds for instance. Or when I've lost my glasses and aimlessly ram my shin into Zach's kick drum in some hotel which smelled not so vaguely of old people, cigarettes, and turned milk. But then, on the other hand, there are fireflies. See, we don't have these in California. We have mosquitos and horseflies and other varieties of uninteresting insect life, but nothing so cool as a beetle with a glowing ass. Wikipedia tells me that fireflies taste hideous and that ancient Chinese folks used to trap them in bottles and use them as lanterns. I can't see how the novelty of these things could possibly wear off. I mean, I said that about pogs too, but this is a whole different story.

So, on our one true day off, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I forgot to pull the blinds and woke up this morning at the inhuman hour of 8:30. And with no fireflies to stare at with the wonder of some pachouli-smelling acidhead, I've decided to sit down at a real computer with my coffee and Rice Krispies and get back to the post I started last night when I was too blotto to realize "pomerka" wasn't a real word. Those contents have been obliterated for the sake of your sanity and my dignity.

When we last left off, I was thumb-typing in a corporate crab shack during happy hour, marveling at the unfunny attempts at humor on the shirts of unfortunate waiters. "Got Crabs?" said the front. "We do," said the back. And no one laughed. That was in Nashville, where Zach got his tattoo, which, parenthetically, is looking better each day now that the redness and scabs are slowly dissapearing, but I neglected to mention one last exploit in Tennessee. While wandering Broadway in search of food or free country music (we found only the former), we happened upon Sun Records, or a shell of what was once Sun Records, the label which once boasted Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Nashville's private Jesus, Elvis. What that building is now is a borderline bogus assortment of monogrammed keychains, shoddy acoustic guitars, and cheesy shot glasses, but, if you manage to wander past the aforementioned lameness, there's a booth in the back where you can record songs for $25. Inbetween a girl covering some country song I can't remember and a newlywed belting out an admirable karioke of that Cash song with the line "I shot a man in Reno once; just to watch him die," Peter did a number. We borrowed the soundman's guitar, which was probably sold at Walmart and made by Burmese orphans, but, you know, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth. When everyone else wakes up, I'll figure out a way to share it. I remember it sounding pretty good, but I was hungry and my stomach was eating my brain.

After Nashville, we returned to Cincinnatti but not to Skyline chili, although, admittedly, I was too hard on them when I moaned about the place originally. The chili was actually rather tasty. The problem was, you just can't put chili on spaghetti and cover it with oyster crackers and cheap cheddar cheese. It's just not polite. It's like playing Black Sabbath at your wedding: a good ingredient, but sorely misplaced. Unless, of course, Anton LaVey is presiding. Then, you know: go right ahead.

But I digress. Cincinnatti was, how can I put this...not my personal favorite. I could ennumerate the problems, but that's just bland. I will say an old SF friend, Ali, showed up, which was mysterious, mindblowing, and lovely. She said she enjoyed the show, as did her friends, and that's good enough for me, as she's seen plenty. It's just hard to enjoy yourself when the guitar amp sounds like a swarm of angry bees and the bass amp like microwave popcorn. Ah, well. Screw fidelity. It was fun anyhow.

The other wonderful thing about Cincinnatti was that our Fresno-friends Rademacher actually left the sound guy $20 to buy us each a glass of whiskey and, amazingly enough, the gentleman was nice enough to remember it. It was touching, even if that sounds sappy. I love them Rademachers, even more than I used to. (The moral: I can be bribed).

One long, rainy drive, we were in North Carolina, the Talk's hometown. A few folks who played and watched in Cleveland were there, a town where, as the bass player from the Sammies says "you either like Heavy Metal or Lebron James." I'm not sure if that's true, but it's funny. The venue (the Tremont Music Center) sounded superb and we played out any weird mojo that remained from Cinci, whether real or imagined. It was fun to see the Talk in their element too, especially since I got to see their singer get wedgied, which I hadn't witnessed since I was waiting in line for tetherball in third grade. The wedgie is a lost art. Like the foxtrot. I say we bring it back.

Now, we're relaxing in Dave's Dad's house in North Carolina, trying to ignore the fact that one of their dogs has flatulence that smells like the corpse of a small rodent. We're going to take it easy, play some piano and some banjo and some pool before we do four straight, starting tomorrow night. Then, my own bed. No more spongey/herpes-infected hotel blankets. I'm giddy just thinking about it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Zach's Doubtful Guest

In which Birdmonster witnesses our national shame, is surrounded by Biblical imagery, and immortalizes the Doubtful Guest

After watching our men's soccer team both get
jobbed and play awfully, thus earning their plane
flight home after playing no better than a third
rate high school girl's team, I can't help but be a
little sad. At this point, I'm rooting for Ghana, who
pull the crumpling-bitch routine far less often
than, say, Austria or the Czech Republic, despite
the fact that Ghana is destined to be mopped up
by the juggernaut of soccer supremacy that is
Brazil. Ah well: for the next few days, let us join
together in love of the outmatched underdog,
regardless of the fact we can't pronounce any of
their names* and attempt to disremember our
team's hatred of cogent strategy and shots on

Let's take a step back in the blog Delorian. It's a
short trip though. Just a couple nights. A trip, I
admit, that wouldn't be necessary if I'd been
slightly less engrossed in the ridiculous,
conspiracy-theory, talking dolphin, drug-laden,
science-fiction dorkfest I've been enjoying in the
back bench of the Whaleship Essex.

So, to St. Louis and the Off Broadway we go, with
our friends and countrymen, the Talk. When the
show started, the crowd could be euphemistically
described as "intimate." The Talk ended up forcing
everyone to introduce themselves: there were an
abundance of Sarahs. But by the time we went on,
the place was cozier, some audience member's
monikers were unknown, and everyone in
attendance was well on their way to lubricated,
next day katzenjammers. We ended up two
encores deep into our catalogue, racking our brains
to remember the few songs we hadn't yet played.
The night ended with hugs and handshakes and a
couple who claimed they might drive down to
Nashville to see it all over again; didn't happen, but
God bless anyway. The thought was endearing.

One crappy hotel, three hundred some-odd miles,
and a dinner of suprisingly pleasant Souther sushi
later, we got on-stage in Nashville. We played
before the Afters, and after no one, as the Talk
spent their afternoon at Six Flags, rejoicing in
recreational queasiness. The Afters are a Christian
rock band, but please, think Collective Soul rather
than Creed or Stryper (who, oddly enough, will
make another appearance in our sordid tale).
Incredibly nice gentlemen, incredibly tight
musicians, and, although not my usual cup of tea, I
must say I enjoyed their stage show. None of that
shoe-gazey yawn vibe and delightfully free of
Scott Stapp-ian annoyance: just rock and roll. All
the best to them.

(An aside: I found a button in my pocket that said
"Satan is Real" and cackled like a lunatic before
tucking it back away).

It was an all-ages shindig and those tend to wrap
up early. With a day off today to be spent either in
our car trundling towards Cincinnatti, where we've
already been, or hanging out in historic Nashville,
we opted for the latter, so we checked into a
Day's Inn, attempted to find some goodbad
television, found only copious ads for phone-sex
lines, Girls Gone Wild, and DUI lawyers (ahhh, to
be part of the latenight market), and passed out
fitfully. After watching the aforementioned
drubbing of our boys in white, we dined at The
Pancake Pantry.

Now, let it be known that I am a self-proclaimed
connosoir of all things bread-breakfast, including
but not limited to pancakes, french toast, and
biscuits and gravy. The Pancake Pantry is
definately on the medal podium, along with Salem's
OHOP (not, I repeat NOT IHOP) and my dad's
delicious homemades. If you make it to Nashville,
give them your money. Delicious to the point of

Ah, but where are we now, you might ask? Well,
Dave is cyborgin at Kinko's, but Pete & I are
waiting for Zach to get his (and Birdmonster's)
first tattoo. Eschewing the designs on hand (large
breated women leaning on crosses, a drumset
adorned with the maxim "Drummers Rule
(exclamation point)", various species of large cats
feigning ferocity), Zach fulfilled an year's old
desire: a tattoo of Edward Gorey's Doubtful
Guest. According to a portly tattooist there, the
creature in question looks like the offspring of a
wookie and a penguin, which is an apt but also
unfair description. The Doubtful Guest is far
cooler than that. I mean, it came from the brain of
Edward Gorey, a man fond of wandering urban
streets in a fur coat and red hightop Cons; in other
words, a man of impeccable taste and curious skill.
When the bandage/scab era has passed, we'll share.

And yes, I mentioned Stryper's reappearance in
this here post. You see, this was a Christian
establishment and unabashedly so. They had a
Stryper** SHRINE complete with signed merch &
drum sticks, next to P.O.D. posters and other, less
memorable fellows who rocked for the Lord. In
fact, there was a sign on the wall which read
"Absolutely No Bad Language." When Zach's ink
surgery was done and he came over to show it off,
I paid heed to the sign and exclaimed, while

"That looks fucking amazing!"

They threw holy water in my eyes and they bled.

*there was in fact some guy on the Ghanian team
named Pimgpong. Just incredibly awesome. Much
better than, say, Tabletonnis. Man. Terrible joke
there. I'm hanging my head in shame.

**for those unfamiliar with Stryper, they are the
premier 80's Christian metal band who dressed like
bumblebees. Seriously. Look it up.

Smiles for Edward Gorey and Tristan

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In which Birdmonster discovers the Hideout, sunburns at Lake Michigan, and plumps up like a Christmas hen

You know, I used to think San Francisco was
windy. After spending an afternoon getting sand
blown into my eyeballs on the lakefront in
Chicago, I understand all we've got are light
breezes. I can't see how umbrellas would be worth
a damn there. They'd all end up doing that
insideout, martini-glass thing. Either that or
pedestrians fly around like Julie Andrews. I'd like
to see that, actually.

So, first off: the Hideout. With all due respect to
the Great Scott & the Black Cat, this was by far
the best club we've played this tour. Legend has it
that, decades ago, some drunkard there asked for
his final drink of the evening and the bartendress
responded "go ahead; it won't kill you," but, then
of course, it did. I realize this might be apocryphal,
but, like most mythistory, it's fun to believe.
Most of New Orleans is that way: either incredible
shit went down there or incredibly creative people
made it all up, and I'd rather not know the

The Hideout is definately well-named. It's tucked
away on some street I couldn't pronounce and
from the exterior, has a secluded cabin vibe going.
Not a Texas Chainsaw Massacre seclusion, but a
special urban sort of seclusion: everybody's little
secret. Taxidermied fish, knotty-pine walls, old
stand-up piano in the corner, cramped, floor-rug
adorned stage, and a trully great sound system:
just a fabulous club. If I lived in Chicago, I'd live
at the Hideout.

The crowd for our set was odd; a mishmosh of
twenty-somethings, regulars, and my grandfolks
and their rather sizeable crew of AARPers. My
folks flew out as well, for an uncle's wedding
party and fathers day and because, well, they
enjoy the monster. It was just the Talk and us
(as it will be in St. Louis tonight too) and the show
went off smashingly. No weird sound issues (ahem,
ahem Cleveland), a hospitable club, family,
friends, free Pabst: euphoric shit, my friends.

In no way torn between free beds and skanky
hotel rooms, we stayed a couple nights at my
grandparents house, which involved all the things
grandparents's houses always bring. Namely early
dinners, 9 a.m. breakfasts, endearing, rambly
stories, pampering, and leaving 12 pounds heavier
than when you came. I was two plates of gnocchi
away from having jowls.

We spent our day off yesterday at Lake Michigan
and I have an oddly shaped sunburn and the sandy
underwears to prove it. We did nothing there. We
defined sloth. It was great.

Now? Back in the Whaleship Essex, listening to
Archers of Loaf, nearing the 100 degree
swelterfest which is St. Louis. Pass me some

Monday, June 19, 2006


Sunday, June 18, 2006

In which Birdmonster plays the internets, remains in Ohio, and contemplates the sanity of putting chili on spaghetti

I'm sorry, but I can't be inside Cleveland & not
sing that Band song. It's like driving through Lodi or
going to Carolina in your mind or walking the
Champes Elyse, regardless of the fact that you
can't spell it. So, look out Cleeeveland /storm is
coooooming throough/ and it's running right up on
yooo-ooou. Man, that felt good.

Now that I got that out of my system, let's talk
about woxy. I first got turned on to this particular
radio station by my on-again, off-again
misanthropic boss, whose taste in music is rather
impeccable, irregardless of his pseudo-disdain for
all songs not sung by Neko Case. Zach & I started
listening now and again, and he happened to solicit
a DJ there (Shivvy, as he's known in ones and
zeroes land). Turned out Shivvy had recently
received a seond-hand review of some South By
show we sweated through and had been meaning to
contact us as well. Dominoes fell, and, soon, we'd
booked an in-studio doohickey. Sometimes, things
just come together oh so nicely.

And you know what? We really enjoyed ourselves.
Sometimes, radio spots and interviews can be
sterile and weird, but not yesterday. I'd
summarize, but you can listen for free right here:

Hopefully that works. I can't work html magic
from this sidekick, especially after a breakfast
soaked in MSG, which has all my joints tingly and
my brain twitching. Ten more bites and I'd be
hallucinating. Dave kind of looks like a lizard
already. Anyway, listening on woxy should be free.
I haven't been at a proper computer to confirm
that suspicion though. I think there might be a
webcam involved as well, and if there is, look for
Mike, the DJ who interviewed us, cutting a rug. If
you're playing to a physical audience of one, and
he's jigging, everything's a-okay. That's my motto.
At least, it is now. Definately a trip highlight thus
far. I'd recommend listening on an obsessive basis.

Afterwards, on copious recommendations of
wandering locals, we went to Skyline for famous
Cincinnatti chili. "Get the 5-way," they demanded.
So we went and we did and I learned something
that day: don't eat spaghetti with chili, cheddar
cheese, and oyster crackers on top. Just don't. Its
what they serve in Hell's cafeteria, right next to
the cole slaw. And there ain't a Rolaid in sight.

Ok. I know I've been talking about food a lot, but
you have to understand something: we drive, we
get gas, we eat, we drink, and we play music.
Rarely is there time for sight seeing or miniature
golf or any of the other trappings of your typical
vacation. And the Midwest certainly has a
different idea of food than I do. You know that
food pyramid? You know how grains are supposed
to be on the bottom? I'm not so sure here. Grease
forms the base. Vegitables are viewed with
suspicious contempt. Fruit is illegal. I'm probably
being harsh here. I'm sure there are damn fine
things to eat around here and I know this isn't the
healthiest way of life, certainly, but usually
we've been able to fight off scurvy while on tour.
I mean, my gums are receding; I'm thinking about
buying a parrot.

Last night, after watchin America get jobbed in
the World Cup, after free pizza (see?), we played
in a back room of Peabody's in Cleveland with,
count 'em, five other bands. There were five in the
front room as well. The hallway between the two
was cacophanous. I recorded it, in case I'm ever in
the FBI and have to flush some lunatic out of his
militia bunker in rural Texas. In addition to the
Talk, we played with two other bands I really
enjoyed. The Sammies, for starters, were
fantastic, and have unbelievably endearing North
Carolina accents, and put on a quasi-sloppy, very
enjoyable set. We're hoping to hook back up with
them in the coming months, next time we trundle
through this part of the country. Elevator Action
finished out the Carolina trifecta: very garage-y,
male & female vocalists, catchy, short songs, and
tremendously nice folks. We were at the club for
(no joke) 8 and a half hours, but they all made
worth our while. Bravos are in order, so: bravo all

Tonight, we've got Chicago, where I get to see my
grandfolks and parents, thus saving me postage on
father's day cards. And tomorrow, we have a day
off. Maybe we'll go to Wrigley field or Lake
Michigan. Or maybe just sleep till three. The
possibilities are endless.

Friday, June 16, 2006

In which Birdmonster wanders around Columbus, re-unites with the Talk, and tries to steer clear of some moron yelling about Black Metal

Greetings from Ohio, so few letters, so many
syllables. We're on our way to an on-air shindig at, which if you read this by 4 p.m.
Eastern time, you should definately listen to.
Definately. Definately because it was the radio
station Dustin Hoffman babbled about during Rain
Man, when Tom Cruise wasn't yet crazy enough to
eat placenta, breed centaurs, drink the blood of
the innocent, or whatever other weird shit that
guy's up to these days. I miss Top Gun Tom.

We had a fitful sleep in Columbus the night before
last and woke up in time to catch Trinidad fold to
England in the World Cup. In other words, we slept
till 1:30. After a bland breakfast, we took care of
some equipment needs and visited what I
understand is the largest university on the planet,
OSU. We spent the afternoon lounging in the sun
and bogarting their internet connection like the
ferocious dorks we've become. Pete bought Dave a
fantastic shirt too: it says "War is not the
answer" and has a picture of Allen Iverson on it.
Genius. Rather relaxing, really, which, in
retrospect, we really needed. Because the
show...well, 'twas a weird one.

Let's start by saying most everyone there was
fantastically cool. The wonders of the
aforementioned internet informed enough people of
the show that the little dungeon we played in was
fairly full. Hell, we got requests for a song we
hadn't played like for months. It was one of those
rowdy shows that just, somehow, happen. We had
a ball. Of course, there was this one guy...

Look: I'm a pretty accepting guy. Feel free to do
whatever it is that makes you happy, whether you
want to follow in Tom Cruise's footsteps and
breed centaurs, listen exclusively to Lawrence
Welk, or even root for the Lakers: fine be me. Just
don't be this guy. Don't scream at everyone all
night when what comes out your mouth is "This is
my life! I roll Black Metal, man. Fuckin BLACK
METAAAAL!" Don't tell me how much you shred,
then pick up my bass without asking and play it
like a 6th grader with down syndrome. Don't, at
any cost, act like you are in the cut scenes from
Gummo. Please.

But, like I said, he was just one guy. His black
metalness wasn't totally overwhelming, just
totally flabbergasting. Otherwise, Columbus:
thumbs up. You need to export that guy. Do the
Russians still keep their Siberian prisons open?
That'd be a good place to start.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In which Birdmonster visits our capital, sees the National Boner through the window, and rocks eight people's faces off in Pittsburgh PA

As a Californian, it's impossible to drive through
New England without getting tree envy. Yeah,
we've got folliage, but most of it is caged in little
concrete cubes or imported from...wherever it is
palm trees come from. But, you know, I'm sure
when they visit San Francisco they get bridge-and
-bum-envy, so we're even.

Since we spoke last, we've had a couple shows,
but I pulled driving duty today, so I missed my
daily thumb-typing habit. I did, however, get
intimately acquanted* with the Whaleship Essex.
She's a fine vessel, with far more power than Sir
Patrick but none of Sir Patrick's style and grace.
Patrick Stewart, you might be smelly, leaky, and
have interior apolstery the color of rotten
cranberries, but goddamn I love you. I'm sorry we
have to cheat on you this month. She means
nothing to us. Nothing.

Soooo, Washington DC. Our erstwhile tourmates,
the Talk, had trailer issues back in Massachusets,
so the eight hour drive, for them, was an
impossibility. Rachel from Underrated Magazine,
who kindly set up our first NYC show, came
through in the clutch and found an opener on about
three hours notice. His name is Rob. As luck would
have it, we'd actually met Rob whilst bullshitting
at South By this year, at some back patio booze
-lounge. He gifted me a fraction of his band's
upcoming CD back then, which got devoured in
some merch box or another until I found it last
month. And let me tell you something: it's fucking
good. He did a solo, acoustic thing for the DCers
last night and, well, see my above assessment.
The Hard Tomorrows. Damn fine music. I tip my
hat to them. And, believe it or not, I'm actually
wearing one. It says "My Ex-Wife's Car Is a
Broom," and yes, I realize that's the stupidest hat
ever, but it was four dollars and hilarious on three
hours sleep. It was either that or one that said
"Obey the Princess." Actually, come to think of it,
perhaps I chose incorrectly.

My, my. We're getting tangential today, aren't
we? DC, DC: A goddamn ball. We played a few
extra ditties since the Talk were AWOL and gave
the tamborine to the best in-crowd tambo-shaker
thus far. You think I'm kidding? Let me tell you
something: we've been unlucky before. We've given
percussion implements to people who struggle with
the rhythmical complexities of "We Will Rock You."
So, Neil: you kick ass. He even got the stop in the
middle of Alabama. And some palm bruises too. At
any rate, the Black Cat is gorgeous and rather
generous with their free drinks and we just had a
damn good time. And on a Tuesday to boot. Any
town that gave humanity Fugazi and
Dismemberment Plan is alright by me.

The extent of our sightseeing in DC was driving
past the home our Pissant in Chief and the
Washington Monument, which, and I know this has
been said before by many people many times, but
it's just a giant stone dong. It's rather undeniable.

After driving through sporadic downpour and trees
trees trees, we reached Pittsburgh. And...well,
shall we just say it wasn't incredibly well
-attended? I've seen more people at a rec soccer
game. But who cares, right? We still ended up
sweaty and smiling, got a few bucks in gas money,
and some free turkey sandwiches I'd rather not
talk about ever again.

Since we rarely get any place in time to see
anything but the four block radius around where
we're playing, and since Pittsburgh was early (and
filled with thousands of rabid stalker fans, of
course), we've decided to drive to Ohio tonight.
Which is what's happening right now. So, fairly
unceremoniously, until then...

*there's no way I spelled that right. I do realize
that. This here machine is allergic to spellchecker.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In which Birdmonster plays Boston, visits Providence, and witnesses new lows of sorry, degenerate drunkenness

We're on about four hours of couch sleep right
now, but, unlike when we chased Art Brut
throughout the bottom half of the country, it's
not going to be the normal plot on this trip. Most
of our East Coast drives are doable without drive
-thru breakfasts, gas station coffee, groggy
cackling, and early morning R. Kelly. Part of me
will miss that. The sane part won't. Well, even the
sane part wants some R. Kelly, but that's it.

For me, most of the stops on the East Coast will
be my first visits to each respective city. I did
take a trip back at the turn of the century, but I
remember New York and twelve dollar lobster in
Maine, but that's about it. I think the family and I
traveled around here too, but when you're five
years old, you just don't give a shit about the
Liberty Bell. Peter's from this whole New English
mash of teeny states, which translates into tour
guide-y driving moments, old friends, and free
floors to sleep on, but for me, and for all intents
and purposes, my first trip to Boston was last
night. I must say: Bravo.

First off, we played at a funky little club called
the Great Scott (a mural on the wall asked "Who's
the Boss?" with pictures of Bruce Spingsteen,
James Brown, and Tony Danza. The answer, of
course: not Tony Danza). Nice, helpful staff in
what, apparently no more than a year or two ago,
was a testerone soaked frat bar. This might be
hearsay, but, at any rate: a kick-ass show. If I
may be so pompous. The Bostonians seemed to

Afterwards, we drove an old friend home and
departed for Providence to avoid the morning
Bechtel-induced traffic nightmares and for an
aforementioned free floor to sleep on. Then, this
morning, we ate delicious Rhode Island diner-ness
and saw one of the most impressively pathetic
sights I've ever seen: namely, a bearded dude at
the diner counter who'd eaten breakfast while
polishing off eight beers. Before 10:30. I imagine by
now, he's in jail or on number thirty-eight. There's
really no other possibility.

Now, in what we may as well officially christen
the Whaleship Essex (where's my smashy
champagne bottle?), we're rolling to Washington
D.C., that partially slummy, strangely Disneyland
-esque place where our country's leaders make
important decisions about Freedom Fries, Freedom
Onion Soup, and vote on gay marriage every third
Tuesday. See you there.

Monday, June 12, 2006

In which Birdmonster battles snafus, logistical nightmares, plays BFD, and somehow arrives in New York City

Here's the thing about festivals: too many
employees and none of them know what's going on.
We spent an hour being shuffled between gates,
kiosks, huts, shanties, lean-to's, inflatable
armadillos, and security guards with Napolean
complexes until finding a couple quality individuals
who used their walkie-talkies for a righteous
cause: namely, allowing us inside the venue we
were playing. BFD was quite the shindig, I must
admit: four seperate stages, $40 beers, perfect
weather, Anti-Flag, who, cryptically enough,
played surrounded by Bud Light ads (but then
again, so did we), and a veritble sea of humanity.
We stayed mostly by the local stage, getting free
shoes (thanks Ted), sour bagels, a rather touching
photo album (thanks Sherman clan), and a couple
sunburns. After the set, we had to scramble home,
being that we had an hour drive and a Super
Shuttle waiting to ferry us off to Oakland
International. Sleep and relaxation: highly

Yet, somehow it all worked out and we made it to
the airport in time to choke down some Round
Table, the undisputed king of shit pizza. I flew to
New York via Vegas, Dave through O'Hare, while
Zach & Pete had a fancy-pants direct flight. They
all missed the degenerate glory that is Las Vegas
International. Basically, we're talking rows of slot
machines, those depressing glass coffin smoking
corals (also filled with video poker, naturally), and
an inordinate amount of advertisements for
caffienated beers and greasy male strip-joints. My
flight was delayed by a good hour and a half, and I
must say (and not without pride) that I avoided
the slots. My fellow captives were not so lucky:
my plane neighbor, who sported a platinum grill and
a very deliberately designed shaved head with
Oakland's area code above either temple,
confessed to losing fifty bucks in the span of a
single cigarette. Joke's on you Vegas; I don't even
have fifty bucks.

We all arrived the next morning, exuding various
levels of jet-lagged loopiness, on three different
planes at two different airports, all luggage
accounted for, all instruments intact
(miraculously enough: the banjo is in a flimsy
backpack and ended up "valeted" at the gate,
which, in layman's terms, means no one
deliberately threw it against anything sharp or

And then there's issue of the van. We'd planned on
renting a trailer and pulling it with Peter's folk's
old SUV. Of course, this was before we discovered
some moron had rolled their Ford Explorer while
towing a trailer & now, for fear of getting re
-sued, U-Haul wouldn't rent us one. Of course,
they <i>will</i> rent to a Mercury Mountaineer,
which is the exact same fucking car, but when it
comes to U-Haul, it's best to avoid reason and
intelligence and just absorb their arbitrary
punishment. Long story not exactly short, we're
cruising around in an anonymous E350 we were
forced to rent from a shady dude in New York,
who, when we asked if he had the van's cuts and
bruises on record, said "I know what they are man.
Have I ever lied to you?"

We took pictures.

We need a good name for this white, scuffy
monstrosity. So far though, nothing's come to
mind. Care to take a stab at it? Bueller? Gibson?

So, with our borrowed gear (thanks SpinART) and
our rented van, we're off to Boston for the
official start of this here the Talk/ Birdmonster
East Coast extravaganza. I'll try & maintain this
puppy when I'm not driving or brain-dead, which
might mean once weekly or once daily. You can
never tell. For now, hello East Coast. You talk
way faster than me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Video, Schmideo

So, I've been waiting to put this up for a couple days, so much so that I'd been refreshing a certain blog roughly four thousand times a day, like some demented lab rat. Over at Stereogum, they were nice enough to post a video-project we've been working on with the gentleman & scholar known only as Greg Crane. Plus, our silly yammerings are now elsewhere on the ol' internets. And I got to make fun of Sisqo, which really isn't very nice, but is, in fact, always funny. That's a proven scientific fact. Thankfully, they put Zach's name on it, so when Sisqo's army of died-hair thugs come after us, I'll survive the onslaught. And yes, I just sold our drummer down the river. Sorry, man. You are the strongest among us. If it comes down to a knock-down, drag-out rumble, I'll kick crotches, necks, and knees for you. I'll bite too. And I got sharp teeth.

Happy 100th-Post Day, or, Goodbye San Francisco

You know that machine in Princess Bride they hook Carey Elwes up to that sucks years off his life? Yeah. Tomorrow is that machine and we are Buttercup. Buttercupmonster, rather. Point is, without boring you, we're loading into BFD at 9, playing at 2:30, and flying to New York at 8:30 and arriving in the morning at 7. This sounded doable, back when we booked & planned everything, but now the logistics are wagging their fingers at us. I'm going to make sure I shave so as not to get the probable-terrorist-pat-down at the security checkpoint. Actually, there's no point. I always get pulled aside. I'll just make sure I swallow the condom of heroin I'm smuggling before I get in line.

We got us some new shirts yesterday too. And maybe some more today. The former are gentlemen's t-shirts, black with gray writing while the latter are indescribably cool ladies shirts with pictures and fancy pants writing; the whole nine. We'll have both with us when we land. And at BFD. So give us your money.

That was blunt. Sorry. But, speaking of tours, Division Day sent us some snap shots of our jaunt a couple months ago. Click here if you want to see them. A majority of the pictures are of those dudes, but, you know, they're fucking adorable. I could just pinch their little cheeks, I could. There's also a bunch from an outdoor show where they stormed the stage during Alabama, an inordiante amount of restuarant pictures, and an uber-mature attempt at writing "dong" with a candle on a long exposure shot. Brings back good, sappy memories. We loves us some D-Day.

I might post a little extra something later today, but for now, I'm going to tie up some before-we-leave loose ends, have a little extra coffee, and try not to stress out like R. Kelly when Rufus is about to open the closet. We'll be keeping the blog updated whilst we travel through the East Coast, so, keep us bookmarked on your battle against Taylorism.

Until soon,

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What, for some reason, I did not post yesterday:

So it's official: the Democratic Party will be presenting the sacrficial cow that is Phil Angelides at the altar of Kalidor, Governor of California. I think it was a good choice. If you're going to make a meaty sacrifice to our supreme ruler, Westly was just too skinny and probably quite grissly. I mean, if I were Arnold, I'd cook him in a nice lemon & white wine sauce before I ate his face. Just two terrible, terrible cantidates. At least there won't be campaign ads on Jeopardy for a few months. So, that's a plus.

A couple things today, besides aimless, cannibalism-laced, political whine-fests. First, I invite everyone to check out some songs by our soon-to-be tourmates the Talk. I like all four. "Good Songs" indeed.

Second, we boarded up Sir Patrick last night, sticking her in Sebastopol while we're galavanting around the Right Coast. Hopefully, the fresh air and the rest will do her well and, so long as she doesn't have hay fever or wisteria alergies, I'm predicting she comes home rested, happy, and ready to be abused anew. We'll be cheating on her on the East Coast (with a rental of all things, the loose, promiscuous whores of the van kingdom), so if you see her: don't. Say. Anything. She thinks we're going to a wedding for our old van, which is actually dead, stripped, and mashed into a sad little cube somewhere. We keep all your secrets, so, you know, it's time to return the favor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Three days until complete panic

Did I mention that I got my accordion? Of course, to call what I purchased an accordion is like calling an Ibanez a guitar or saying that Arby's serves edible roast beef. In other words, it's a stretch of the highest order. Instead of visiting music stores or going antiquing, I decided to drop into a toy store down the street from the ol' day job, where they had a Hohner child's toy accordion capable of about two chords and no notes that are either sharp or flat. So, basically, I got a squeaky two octave accordion that can yelp along with white-keyed piano ditties. $20 well spent, I'm sure you'll agree. The best part was the duet I did with a six year old when I was buying it. You've never heard percussion genius until you've heard a first grader play drums through plastic packaging. Trust me.

This week, us birdmonsters are trying desperately to avoid forgetting important loose ends before flying to the Right Coast. Personally, I need a haircut & some new pants. But also packing, laundering, and finding Sir Patrick a foster garage are important, if not boring, tasks that need doing. We're good at that last-minute, pseudo-procrastinated rush to action so I have the utmost faith, but, innevitably, I forget something that seems unimportant on paper but ends up being quite necessary. Like deoderant. Sorry plane neighbor. I'll remember this time.

Otherwise: I have a request. I finished the book I was reading & need something new. Maybe somethings, emphasis on the plural. It should be fun, addictive, and long, something that will make me cackle on the plane so that, beyond the lack of deoderant, I'll also be giddy and wild-eyed. In fact, I'm not going to shave either. I see a security point strip search in my future.

And need I remind you that BFD is this Saturday? And that there's an East Coast tour after that? No. But I did.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm awake. I swear

Having arrived home at 3:30 and at work 5 hours later, you can rest assured that I'm running solely on coffee, a microwaved croissant, and the life-giving majesty of last night's In 'N Out. I feel like an extra in a George Romero movie; feed me brains.

But, it was quite a weekend. Music was had, tetherball was played, sunburns are itching. We played at my old high school's Performing Arts Center, the same place where I saw Fiddler on the Roof in Eleventh Grade (with a Phillipino dude as Tevya, no less---and he RULED) and got some sausagey pasta for dinner, courtesy my Dad. We spent the day at the pool, where I did a lot of flailing off the diving board and loudly mocking the diving form of several different six year olds. The show itself went over well, despite some...unpleasantness with my temporary bass set-up and a complete lack of monitors and alcohol, and, as always, we ended up sweaty and smiling. Plus, I got to see tons of high school bands. And not the ones with flutes & tubas. Ah, memories. When I was that age, I was still trying to learn "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden, so I give these kids credit for the hectic ska, the SoCal punk, and the various incarnations of rock goodness they played. Oh, and I stuck a few stickers on campus and didn't even get sent to the Principal's Office. I'm a rebel, you know.

The next morning, after some biscuits and gravy, we drove up to LA to play a barbeque at Little Radio. Let me tell you what I was expecting: I flimsy wooden stage under a ripping tent in the 100 degree weather with a negligable sound sytem. I couldn't have been more wrong. Little Radio's set up down there is epic, in a Gilgamesh sort of way. Not only do they have a proper venue, but the invaded the neighboring furniture store parking lot with ping pong tables, kiddie pools, plastic pool recliners, squirt guns, hamburgers, and a bouncy castle with foam basketball hoops inside. A memo: when you can spend half your day recklessly flying around a bouncy castle pretending to be athletic, you're having a good day. This is undeniable.

To boot, the venue was inside, so no one got heatstroke. Run Run Run were kind enough to let me plug into their bass amp (thanks again) and everyone was so laid back & barbeque-y that it was tough to leave. When in fact we did, it was half past seven and on an empty stomach, hence the egregiously late arrival this morning. Oh well. Definately my favorite LA show experience thus far. So, thanks again Little Radio folks. I hope you keep that up. And, you know, if you live in LA, I can't think of a better thing to do on a sweltering Sunday, so you should do yourself a favor & go check them out. If it wasn't an eight hour drive, I'd go every weekend. It just doesn't seem cost efficient.

Before my brain continues to atrophe at an exponential rate, I'm going to start trying to do some work, listen to something soothing (Ryan Adams sounds nice, doesn't he?), and drink about eight more cups of terrible office coffee. Just a note: coffee should not be crunchy. But it's crunchy and free and, well, I have my priorities.

Friday, June 02, 2006

One of those scatterbrained postings

It's the Friday before our glorious return highschool, once a place where assistant principles lifted the skirts of girls outside the Winter Dance because the Thong Song was popular and said principle was worried that, you know, girl's underwear might not be up to her puritanical standards. Just one of the many crimes in which we can call Sisqo an accomplice. Now, instead of crapping on common decency, they're throwing concerts & donating the money to charity. So, points for them.

So, we've got a nice long drive this evening, past all those windmills and the rolling greenness, past several In 'N Outs (not all of them of course---you have to stop at at least one), past the traffic wonderland of LA too late to be crapped on, then inland to North Country San Diego. Then, on Sunday, we're doing a barbeque thing in Los Angeles. You know, it just dawned on me we're doing two outdoor shows in one weekend. How bizarre. Then BFD will be outdoors too--so, three in a row...Just hide the hackysacks, please. I'd rather not see any hackysacks.

Oh yes: the bass amp problem is (temporarily) fixed. Roger from Dark Side of the Cop loaned me an extra speaker I can hook up to my broken head, thus making my setup about nine hundred pounds and 500 watts. All to run a busted, 200 dollar bass. How excellent. And also, I didn't win that other accordion. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be. My Zydeco dreams, dashed. My neighbors, ecstatic.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Explosions and Elephants

Last night, without Dave, who is vacationing down in SoCal, us other three birdmonsters gathered in our studio for one of those oh so enjoyable, meandering, long-winded, messy practices which often result in interesting song ideas. Or even songs. Hell, Resurrection Song and Ball of Yarn were written that way. And everything was going nicely, I must say, until...well...until my bass amp exploded.

Alright, "exploded" is certainly an exagerration. It wasn't as if Sly Stallone should've been diving away from it as it engulfed the room in fireballs. But there was that distinctive and depressing noise of a speaker tearing. If you've never heard it before, it sounds like a cat dying, only amplified. Either that or a large, eggshaped flatulent man, amplified. Actually, it's a rather even mix of the two.

Which brings us to an impasse: we have a show in San Diego in two days (see last post) and I'm ampless. I'm thinking about just setting up a microphone and beat-boxing my bass parts. The chords will be tricky of course, but I can get Dave to harmonize with me. Either that or I'm going to find one today. Plans are in the works, and hopefully, our old friends Dark Side of the Cop will come through in the clutch. I have a good feeling about it. We can always car-jack Division Day in LA. I'll bring my ski-mask.

Beyond that, a few folks clued me into Gorilla Vs. Bear today. Why? you might ask. Well, he played us on some radio shindig (which, by the by, thanks) and also, videos with elephants. And who doesn't like Elephants? Really. Too bad he's rooting for the Pistons. Chris: you're blowing it there. They're tired and they're cocky and they're losing tomorrow night. I'll bass amp. You'll wager your car.

It's a deal.

Ok. I'm really enjoying this book I'm reading so I need to scheme a break from work now. In other news, I am insanely dedicated to my job.