Perhaps you are familiar with the 4-60. In fact, I can almost assure you
that you are, even if you have a different and less fantastic name for
it. Here's the skinny: if you're driving through southern Arizona in the
middle of August and you don't have working air conditioning, you're a)
a moron, b) us, and c) driving 60 with all four windows down, hence, the
4-60. It works better than driving through the desert with your windows
up, sweating like a penguin in a boiler room, but, well, let's just say
that it doesn't work that well. There's a reason I have my deoderant in
a hip holster.
That's where we're headed as I write this: Arizona. Depressed, runty
plants? They've got those. Professional sports teams named after
sweltering celestial bodies? Them too. Hilariously overstocked gas
stations? Every thirty miles. This is the only state I've ever visited
where gas stations contain geodes, wrought-iron amphibians, and
pay-per-view archeological curiosities. We'll be there in mere hours, so
long as the 8 doesn't destroy our radiator. Which it tried to do last
time. And then there was that...unpleasantness at the border. Those
dogs: olfactory geniuses.
So indeed, what have we done in the past two days? Well, I've been
cultivating my Rip Van Winkle impression, we've been playing loud and
cozy shows, life and Patrick Stewart roll on, unabated. We've done
Southern California the last two evenings, both with D-Day, both without
a working tamborine, which, strangely enough, makes me feel a bit naked.
I like jangling things that you can slam on non-jangling things. Maybe I
can buy a new one at a gas station in Arizona.
At any rate, the shows: our night at Spaceland was our best Los Angeles
show in recent memory for a variety of reasons. First off, it didn't
smell like a spore culture. Last time? I was afraid just breathing was
mildewing my lungs. Secondly, we had a great sound guy, so we sounded
great. It's nice how that works out, ain't it? A bad sound man can make
a well-played show into the musical equivalent of warm lemonade. Sure,
it's still lemonade, but it tastes all wrong and when the glass is
finished, you just aren't that happy about having drank it. Third, all
the other bands were fantastic (not always the case, you know. In LA,
the bad ones usually come dressed in leather chaps and wear their
affection for Motley Crue on their sleeves). Lastly, KCRW presented the
show, and they're one of the few great radio stations left on the dial,
so that was nice.
We bolted that evening rather than languishing in SoCal midday traffic
and I, being a backseater at that point, continued cultivating the Rip
Van Winkle impression I just mentioned. Somehow, the entire next day was
spent playing piano, eating a bagel, and going to Sav-On. Go figure.
Some days just slip away before you know the even started. Our show that
night (last night, actually) was fun, if only because Dave & I grew up
down here, so you can always count on a few surprise characters coming
out of the woodwork. I find it interesting hearing what these once-close
friends are doing with themselves. Like, one's a paleontologist, another
guy sells patio heating, and a different guy said something involving
the word "nuclear" before I gave in to hopeless confussion. And then,
you know, I get to pull a Velvet Underground and say "well me, I'm in a
rock and roll band." Simple pleasures abound.
But paleontology? How cool. Dead dinosaurs: not just used to power your
car. I might pretend to be one at my high school reunion. Either that or
the guy who plays the horn before every horse race. Now there's a job.