Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bouncing here and there and everywhere. Or, perhaps, bouncing nowhere at all.

There's something I forgot to mention in the "things I learned on tour" entry and, well, it's not for the feint of heart. In fact, to me, it's downright depressing. It's up there with the end of Anna Karinina or Tess of the D'Ubervilles or the day when they stop making new episodes of the Simpsons. It concerns Gummi Bears.

You know which ones I'm talking about. They're the ones in the smallish green and brown bags with the overalled bear smiling out at you, made, I think, in some Nordic wasteland where the gummi is of a higher quality than here in the Americas. Anyway: they're gone. Somewhere around Texas I got an uncontrollable hankering and began checking every gas station, rest stop, drug store, street vendor, candy pusher, and grocer for those lovable orsine cavity inducers but no---they were nowhere. Have they gone out of business? Has Trolli mounted a hostile takeover? Were a tainted batch linked to a rabies outbreak somewhere in Finland? One thing's for certain: I need some. I'm like a junkie with twenty bucks and no dealer, wandering around Central Park at three in the morning, my man-mascara running from hours of fiending and weeping. Like Patrick Henry probably said at some point, "Give me gummi or give me death."

So, it's Thursday. Tomorrow, us, Two Seconds, and Division Day (to whose recent list of problems and worries you may add broken glasses and broken transmissions) will be playing Slim's. It starts at 9ish but get there early to lend an ear to everyone. We were allowed to choose the bill ourselves and chose, I think, rather wisely. Today we get to have our first practice in months, which will hopefully be filled with random, Widespread Panic jamouts I'd be embarrassed to hear tomorrow but which are incredibly fun when you're knee-deep in them. And, of course, new songs. I miss working on those. But we're giddy about it. Which, I'd say, is a good sign. I spent a month and a half playing music with the same three guys and I'm really excited to do it again today. And tomorrow. And until I've lost most of hearing and/or teeth. Hope to see your smiling faces in attendance. And, hey, I'll be at the Silversun show tonight too. I bet someone is double dipping. I know at least one person for certain.

Now, a poppyseed bagel awaits. Until we meet again which, now that I don't live in a van, will be very soon, goodbye for now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

a taste of tour

Things I learned on tour

-If your cell phone gets left in the back of a taxi, cancel it immediately. Because all cabbies will innevitably sign up for a daily Teen Horoscope text messaging service and copious Justin Timberlake related ringtones that will end up costing you what should have been your rent check.

-Never eat Chinese food in Canada. Unless, of course, you're constipated.

-To life's simple pleasures, such as breakfast in bed and putting on pants right out of the dryer, I'd like to add shampooing a beard. Bonus points because a shampooed mustache is right under your nose, so you have a built in air freshener for places like Cleveland, the manure fields of central California, and alleys filled with copulating bums.

-They don't make Chuck Taylors like they used to. Unless you enjoy duct tape mocassins, sell your Converse stocks. Now.

-When you buy 17 movies for 17 dollars, well, you just bought 17 movies for 17 dollars. Or, alternatively: When "Alligator II: the Mutation" is the best movie you got, it's possible that you got ripped off. And, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary, promise me you'll never watch "Cheerleader Ninjas" or "Killer Tongue."

-There are more Subway franchises in the continental United States than there are people in Montana. At least 3 of them will not kill you. I cannot speak for the other hundred and twenty thousand.

-Never take a two thousand dollar van on an eleven thousand mile journey. It will end badly.

-Do not trespass in seemingly harmless construction sites in towns that seem a bit down on their luck. You will likely find yourself in a prison jumpsuit that's three sizes too big, being pointed at by a 6'5" tattooed behemoth, who will say, quite astutely, "Some people don't belong in prison. Like that motherfucker. He don't belong in prison."

-Just because a state is hopelessly conservative doesn't mean you won't have a really fabulous time there. Conversely, just because a state is politically aware doesn't mean they won't, say, throw you in jail, extort you at check out time, or be filled with drunks that say "bro" too much. In other words, there are good people everywhere, but the pricks are there too. Ignore the later, if at all possible. Since it rarely is, go for the throat, the knees, or the crotch.

-Things like Mount Rushmore and Niagra Falls are famous for a reason. Stop by.

-Always put the cap back on the toothpaste. Unless you enjoy minty, gooey pants.

-If you're using Yahoo Maps to get somewhere, it's best to just close your eyes, brake erratically, and turn when the muse strikes you. You will arrive at the same time.

-When you've been living in hotels, rest stops, gas stations, and diners, you forget that coffee can actually be filled with caffiene. It's best to remember that before having your third cup on you first day home. Twitching in the corner has always been highly overrated.

-Pay attention to signs. You never know when a "God made dirt; Dirt don't hurt" will change your life forever.

-Always come home. Although surreal at first, home is the best part of every trip. I missed you, San Francisco.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Just like Tony Bennett, except less old and way, way more destitute

I miss San Francisco. I miss everything about it. I
miss my friends, my friend's friends, the friendly
bum across from my office. I miss being elbowed
by geriatric, cut-throat ladies on my afternoon
commute. I miss the fog, the mist, the surprising
half hours of pleasant sun before more fog and
mist. I miss my bed. Hell, I watched the Rock a
few weeks ago and I got all homesick. No, Ed
Harris! Don't you dare launch VX gas into my town!
Or, alternately, I'm gonna take pleasure in gutting
you, boy.

Like Dorothy, there's no place like home. Except,
well, no offense Dorothy, but my home is way
more interesting than a runty terrier and a couple
wizened aunties and uncles. San Francisco is more
like Oz. (I once saw a flying monkey in the
Presidio). Like Tony Bennett, I left my heart in
San Francisco. Or, maybe I left it Montreal when I
ate that vile Chinese, wait, that wasn't
my heart. That was my colon. Or my sanity. Not

Like so many wagon riders of a time period I can't
exactly pin down, we're riding westward. Well, no.
More southward. We're eight hours from home. I'm
excited. I'm giddy. I'm loaded up with gifts so
handsome that they'll likely be thrown out two
months from now. Hope someone has a brandy milk
punch waiting for me.

Of course, there's a flip side. There's rent and
consequently a seemingly innevitable return to the
cubicle gallows. And there's no more tour. No more
traveling. No more Taco John's (thank some diety).
Rolling through the country on a perpetual
roadtrip, jumping around playing music, watching
terrible late night Showtime movies with embolism
inducing plot holes: it's all quite fun. You hear
strange accents, accidentally adopt them, drive
away. You meet new bands, memorize their songs,
drive away. You eat poorly, moan extensively,
drive away. Just not before visiting the water

But that's (almost) all over now. And you know
how we're celebrating? By playing another show,
of course. When we get home, we've got a couple
afternoons to relax, a couple evenings to eat,
drink, and be merry, a couple mornings to sleep
through completely, then: Slim's.

So, what can you expect if you come out (and I do
hope you can)? Well, I've got a beard. Peter has
enough hair for a seventeenth century ponytail.
Zach has bat wings. Also, Two Seconds will be
releasing their CD the very same day and they're
oh so fantastic. Division Day will be playing too,
which means, at the very least, more beards. And
more rocking. And everyone can come because it's
all ages. And it's on a Friday night, so you don't
have anything to do in the morning, unless your kid
has a soccer game, in which case, tell him to kick
the other guy right above the shin guard and below
the knee.

Speaking of Divison Day: they're free men. Their
charges were reduced from miscarriage of justice
to trespassing, which involves, tragically, another
trip to a Spokane courthouse, but likely a small
fee. They made (plutonic) friends in jail though.
They wore extra large blue jumpsuits and pink
boxerbriefs provided by the state. They were
mocked mercilessly but playfully by the remaining
DDayers and most of Birdmonster. But, not unlike
a small bottle of wine on an international flight,
they're free.

Long drives, sleeping in The Castle, and a pair of
shows have waylayed the blog the last couple
days. We had an instudio at KEXP that was a ball
and is probably up on their website. We did a mean
Spaceman. And now, somehow, it's over. 35 shows.
Maybe 36. Hell, I stopped counting in August. And
you know what? I'm not too sore, White Castle
cured all my illnesses, and we all still love each
other. Success is easy to define.

Tonight: a long, long sleep in my own bed. I can't
begin to fathom how lovely that's going to be.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Glorious highs and tremendous lows in Spokane Washington

Our story begins at the Center Stage in Spokane
Washington, a dinner theatre cum concert venue,
DJ arena, art show, coffee shop, and, perhaps,
breeding ground for giant pandas. It begins after a
thirteen hundred mile drive, spread out over two
and a half leisurely days spent alternately
watching Blade, the Cutting Edge, White Squall,
finishing my Michael Malone book, and slowing for
road construction that never seemed to actually
be occurring. It begins at the Center Stage but it
ends, for some of us, in prison jumpsuits. For the
rest of us it ends with late night Jack in the Box
and a feeling of confusion, frustration, and
thoroughly justified hatred. But it begins at the
Center Stage.

Our friends at Spokane 7, an arts insert in the
local paper, pulled out, if not all, a large majority
of the stops last night: four bands, three DJs, two
artists, and a patridge in a pear tree. The only
thing missing were drink tickets, but dinner was
free, delicious, and included some potato sausage
cabbage soup that I'm still smiling about.

Spokane is a city I can't seem to get my head
around. The streets near the club were peopled
with zombies, toothless hobos, women with capes,
well dressed old people, angry drunks, and the
diverse but completely lovely crowd that came
inside to watch the show. We met up with Division
Day who are our outer bookend this tour. Two
more shows and I'm home. Wonderous. Anyway, we
played in a dinner theatre with no diners, which is
good because I'd rather not play to somebody's
duck pate. We had a blast and, for the first time
ever, did an acoustic, sit down encore, banjo,
stomping, and all. I was almost in tune.

And everyone seemed happy. Joy was in the air.
Besides some strange gentleman outside screaming
about beating up some other drunk guy and his
cohorts ("I'll fuck you up man. And all yer emo
friends" (proceeds to fall down)), it was a
veritable bubble of good cheer. And, since the noise
curfew there was 10:30, there was time to scurry
next door for billiards, chatter, and more booze.
And that's where things turned sour.

Of course, at first, that feeling of all-is-well was
intact. Beer and pleasant company have a way of
doing that for you. I was demolishing Ryan from
DDay at pool, he was weeping, I spilled a drink
down Zach's shoe: like I said, good cheer. Kevin &
Seb from DDay, the only single boys on this leg,
were talking to some lovely ladies, one of whom
we dragged out of her coffee shop last time we
were in town and decided we were good enough to
check out again. She, her friend, and our two DDay
mates left to take a walk. I continued whooping
Ryan at pool.

Ten minutes passed.

Then, there were sirens.

And more sirens.

And, wait. Is that Kevin in handcuffs? No. Can't
be. But the guy with him looks an awful lot like

Oh. Shit.

And there we were, out on the sidewalk, watching
slack-jawed as ten cops stood around, their cute,
curly little tails waving in the breeze, figuring out
what to do with two of the least likely criminals
since Mother Theresa teamed up with Spiderman.
Then, to our chagrin, they were pushed into a car.
Rohner, Pete, and I approached one of the piggies
to ask what in God's name these two were being
handcuffed and, presumably, taken away for but
were shouted at for walking into the street by an
infuriating moron with a mustache a twelve year
old would be ashamed of. "They can call you from
jail," said this pre-pubescent jackanape. And like
that, they drove off.

Skip ahead to this morning. The two chaps are
being held for...second degree burglary.

Now, a few details have become clear. Firstly,
they were picked up across the street from the
pool hall we were at, having snuck into an
abandoned, under-construction office building.
Okay. Honestly. What are you going to steal from
a gutted high-rise? Cinder blocks? Rebar? Gravel?
The jury is still out on that, which, come to think
of it, let's hope the jury doesn't stay out on
anything. Secondly, they've posted bail. As I write
this, we're unsure if justice will prevail and the
case will be dismissed or if justice will take a dirt
nap and our boys will be further shat upon for
reasons unknown and surely unsatisfactory. We'll
see. For now, I have faith. The charge is too risible
for them to be tried. Of course, I've been wrong

So say a prayer. Enjoy your weekend. Stay out of
construction sites for Christ's sake. See you soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

With nothing to talk about, we talk about nothing

When experiencing something for the first time, it
either a) lives up (or down) to your expectations,
b) is far worse than previously hoped, or c) way
better than your lovliest hallucinations. C is by far
the most enjoyable. C is expecting Demolition Man
to be horrible only to discover that it's roughly
three times better than Casablanca. C is eating a
79 cent breakfast and not getting dysentary. C is
finding out you look good in a cowboy hat. C is
South Dakota.

I mentioned yesterday I was excited about this
state. My Eccentric America tourbook has a
surprisingly detailed, shockingly lengthy chapter on
South Dakota. It's not all crackpot festivals like
the Wyoming Testicle Fair or the Great Idaho Bed
Parade or Colorado's Frozen Dead Guy Day, either.
No, sir. They've got the Corn Palace (which we
visited after closing and is, well, at the very
least, it's aptly named). They've got the Badlands.
They've got Walldrug and a four dead guys carved
on the side of a mountain. They've got Jackalopes.
I mean, rabbits with antlers? Step aside duck
-billed platapus. The freak train has a brand new
conductor. And, sorry, but what do you got North
Dakota? A Rock Museum? The World's Most
Unfortunate Enima? Exactly. Game. Set. Match.
South Dakota.

Since we're working on a twelve or thirteen hour
drive today, we decided to stop at all of the
aforementioned attractions. The Badlands are
gorgeous in a lifeless, eerie sort of way, like a
giant mouth of rather poorly cared for teeth.
Mount Rushmore is, well, remember the a), b), and
c) above? Well, it lived up to expectations.
Totally impressive, staggeringly large, and
thoroughly odd when you really sit down and think
about it (mountain plus giant noggins equals
patriotism). And the guy who designed it has one of
the most absolutely bad ass names of all time:
Gutzon Borglum. Sounds like a Douglas Adams
character. Or a $2000 Jeopardy question. Either
way, don't say I never taught you anything.

And you know what? Hats off to Gutzon Borglum.
He chose four of the good presidents. When I was
in New York, I had a conversation in a diner about
our currency and how, of all people, Andrew "Trail
of Tears" Jackson is on our twenty dollar bill.
Talk about a dickcheese. FDR got the dime because
of the March of Dimes (which made that whole
Reagan on the dime campaign all the more
infuriating), Washington got the one for being One,
but Jackson? He sucked. He was a shmuck. He
didn't even have a cool beaver hat or spectacles or
an embarrasing ponytail. So, let's throw him off.
Let's start a petition. I can think of a hundred
people more qualified. And, as Ben Franklin proves,
you don't even have to be the Commander in Chief
to be on it. Martin Luther King? Much better.
Millard Fillmore? Why not? Howie Mandell would
be better, for God's sake. Not that I'd advocate
for that cue-bald, washed-up, once-Bobby's World
voicing, now forsaking humanity on a game show
featuring mainly labotomized rubes son of a bitch,
but, hey, he's no Andrew Jackson. How bout Doc
Holliday? Frederick Douglas? Earl Warren? Dr. J?
It's not too hard being less horrendous than
Andrew Jackson. Even Ty Cobb gives him a run for
his money. So, next time I go to the ATM, I
expect any of the above cantidates smiling at me.
If England can put Darwin on the 10 pound note,
we can put Dr. J on the 20. Let's make it happen.

Lastly, there's Walldrug. Located in the city of
Wall, South Dakota (population roughly equal to
the block I live on in San Francisco), Walldrug is a
monument to tawdry bric a brac, 5 cent coffee,
jerky of varying low qualities, candy containing
ingedients unstable enough that a mere ten
chemists worldwide can concoct them, humorous
stockings, western wear, donuts, already broken
cap guns, sno-globes, taxidermed prarie dogs, eye
-gougingly atrocious original oil landscapes---so,
basically, Walldrug is paradise. I would live there if
they rented rooms. I bought a new wallet and
spent what was left in my old one. I had to be
forcibly removed from the premises.

Now? Well, we're in Montana. It's over five
hundred miles across and we've got to finish it off
this evening, then, unless road fatigue has
overtaken us all, it's through Idaho to Spokane.
Dave and I just sacrificed two hours of our lives
to the Gods of Useless Non-Entertainment
watching the Cutting Edge (hockey player gets
injured, teams up with a bitchy figure skater who
can't keep a partner, attempts to regain former
icy glory, falls in love in the process) and, well, we
enjoyed it immensely. Ridiculous in the truest
sense of the word. As in, worthy of ridicule.

Big Sky Country, here we come.

Goodnight Minneapolis. Goodnight Boris. Goodnight Moon.

The sun is setting over the edges of Minnesota.
Maybe South Dakota. I haven't really been sign
watching for the last couple hours. I've had my
head burried in a Michael Malone book, which is a
veritable tour tradition, one which, unless he gets
cracking at some new novels, will forcable end
itself three tours from now. So get going buddy.
And straight to softcover, if you wouldn't mind.
Thirty bucks for a heavier book with a flimsy dust
jacket has never struck me as a grand bargain.

Anyway, it's gorgeous here. It reminds me of a
colder, more corn-lined central California, lacking in
windmills and In 'N' Outs, pleasantly free of that
lingering manure aroma that lingers over most
everything south of San Jose and north of Santa
Barbara, with plenty of rolling green, ominous
cloud-cover, and anonymous smushed mammals.
Perfect Richard Buckner scenery. Excuse me while
I put some on.

Ah, that's more like it. Warble on, big guy.

So here we are. A 1300 mile trundle to the Pacific
Northwest which we're elongating by an additional
hundred miles so we can take the 90 and maybe
see the Corn Palace or Walldrug or Mount
Rushmore, all of which are in South Dakota, the
most interesting state I never gave much credit
to and assumed was just a 300 mile yawn. Of
course we got a late start this morning---or,
rather, this late afternoon---so we might miss
them all, thanks to a marathon of horrific beers,
bittersweet au reviours, and copious Ping Ponging.
Our priorities: maleable. Perhaps retarded. But I
rediscovered my backhand, so back off. Ping Pong,
the onamotopeic sport of the aristocracy. Or

Before I get even further off-track, let's talk
about Minnesota. First off, it should be mentioned
that we played an in-studio at 89.3, the Current, in
one of the most impressive recording spaces I've
ever seen. And any station that plays Nancy
Sinatra, Okkervil River, the Temptations, Mr. Lif,
and Ryan Adams in the same set gets brownie
points up the wazoo. Or is it out the wazoo? In
any event, they've been given far too many
brownie points for the wazoo to begin to contain
them all. Plus, they were the first station to play
Prarie Home Companion (Lake Wobegon, if I recall,
is in Minnesota), so, well, the wazoo is overflowing
as it is. Let's leave it alone, shall we?

One lingering sadness: no Fargo-esque accents. I
was rather looking forward to that.

The show was enjoyable, enjoyed, memorable,
and, sadly, our last night with Boris Yeltsin and
the Someone Still Loves Yous. We had that lovely,
storm the stage moment during each other's
respective sets and my palm is covered in plum
colored splotches due to overly aggressive
tambourining. It's always sad when you say
goodbye to a friend band of guys whose songs you
thoroughly enjoy but there's really nothing you
can do about it. Except violent kidnapping. Sadly, I
left my twine and blackjack in Rochester.

It's fully nighttime now. We're God knows how far
from the Corn Palace, civilization, other, less
appreciated Dakotas. I think I'll kick back and
enjoy the Tom Petty. Seems like a good thing to

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The rather curious contrast between Cleveland and Chicago or, Please Stop Rapping

Look: I'm a fairly upbeat gentleman. I like the half
-full glass of brandy, the silver lining on the
cummulus, all those optimistic cliches. When I
think about our Commander In Chief, instead of
focusing on the prisoner abuse, irresponsible tax
cuts, youthful drug habits that would've
intimidated Tony Montana, or any of the other,
innumerable, saddening negatives, I think, "Hey:
he's good at not stabbing his wife and children." So,
when I think of Cleveland, I try and focus on the
bartendress we had, the pleasant, cozy show, the
lack of serious bodily injuries we sustained.

Of course, I could just as easily harp on the
hilarious awfulness.

Before I go on, I should explain that we were sort
of sequestered from the goings-on at Peabody's
downstairs. We were up in a pseudo-soundproofed
cage known as "The Rockstar Room," named not
for the profession of any performers who
happened to come through (and it's highly doubtful
they do, since we're talking 100 people max), but
for that so-called energy "drink" that tastes like
an amalgam between Dimetap and the urine of a
strange Australia marsupial. Downstairs there
were actually two more stages (yes, three total),
one of which featured various poorly executed
attempts at Doom Metal, Black Metal, Tooty
-Fruity-Slam-Grunt, Gore-Grind, Fungal-Mosh, or
any of the other thousand Heavy Metal subgenres.
The other stage: a vicariously embarrassing
display of whiteman rapping.

Honestly, I know it sounds like I'm up in my little
tower, looking down my Indie-snob nose at
midwesterners exchanging testoterone-drenched
shoves while headbanging to indistinguishable
gruntings or bobbing along to faux-thugs who
couldn't make the first cut of "Making the Insane
Clown Posse." I'm trying to avoid that vibe. But I
was flabbegasted. I've never heard rap that bad.
I've never shook my head at metal that
discouraging. I've never seen an otherwise bald man
with six braided pigtails. But, you know, everyone
who wasn't punching each other or passed out,
High Life in hand, head in a pool of their own
upchuck, well, they seemed to be having a good
time. So who am I to judge? Cottonmouth Kings

Then there was Chicago.

I saw my Grandfolks, we played Catfish Haven's
CD release show, had lunch with our friend Robert,
slept fitfully, got nicely blotto, and played what
we all felt was one of our best shows in one of
the nicest venues of the tour. It's not really as
funny as Cleveland, but yes sir, may I have

A few strange parts of the evening do come to
mind. Like Kevin from Division Day appearing.
Rather unexpected, to say the least. We'll, as you
might know, be meeting back up with him and his
cohorts in less than a week's time for Spokane,
Portland, Seattle, pancakes, and the venerable
castle his aunt resides in. I also enjoyed seeing
Catfish off on their big night, when they covered
Moni Moni, had an extra six members, and, well,
they were still wearing the same clothes. I love
'em for it though. One of the back-up singers put it
perfectly as his looked through his valise for a
clean shirt, post-show: "Those guys go on tour for
a month with one shirt and a pair of parts. I bring a
suitcase to go 'Oooh.'" They played beautifully. All
our best to them.

Come to think of it: tomorrow's our last show
with Boris Yeltsin too. A boy could get depressed
with all these goodbyes, honestly. We're going to
be playing the town of Prince, my doppelganger
and Halloween trope, Minneapolis, before
embarking on a staggeringly long, two day roll to
Oregon. I'm hoping to buy Tombstone before the
trek. You're no daisy. You're no daisy at all.

For now, on to Minnesota. We've got a radio shindig
in the morning, a show at night, and then the above
mentioned drive of drooling lunacy. Onwards.

Friday, September 15, 2006

In which we discuss fawning over other frontmen, possible Harry Potter 7 endings, and the curative powers of White Castle

It's a rare occasion when I do the circa-1988
-fainting-girl-at-a-Michael-Jackson-concert thing.
But there I was last night, stomping in place, doing
the limp wrist face fan, yelping "OhmiGAWD"
because we got to meet one of the guys from
Thunderbirds are Now! in their hometown, Detroit
Michigan. Zach had a stroke of MySpace genius and
invited them whilst we bogarted the University of
Michigan's internet connection and, lo and behold,
they came. With their brand new CD in tow no less.
Their first LP is one of my personal go-to late
-night driving records, so I'm rather giddy about it. I
probably embarrassed myself a bit last night
though. I don't think humping his leg helped much.

We had another such moment earlier this tour
when we met Paul from Harry and the Potters in
Boston. For those who don't know, Paul is Harry
Potter year 7 and, in stark disobedience of
Dumbledore's suggestions, used a time turner so he
could play music with his brother, Harry Potter
year 4, rocking medium-sized venues and libraries
all summer long. We schoolgirled out on him before
trading book 7 predictions. I think, through some
heroic deed or five, Harry loses all his magical
powers while saving the magical and muggle races.
Of course, my mouth is in my ass when I say this.
Still, Harry year 7 was intrigued. We high-fived and

That was several days ago though. We're finally
at that light at the end of the tunnel stage, with
three more Midwest shows, a Minneapolis NPR
appearance, and a handful of Northwest shows
then...home. I remember home. Vaguely. There's a
Victorian with my bed in it, a bunch of fog, a bunch
of bums. Oh man. My bed. Odds of there being a
gecko under the comforter: low.

Last evening we played without Catfish Haven
but with Someone Still Has Feelings for Mikael
Gorbachov in Hamtramck (really, that's how it's
spelled) and some hometown friends, the Lovely
Public. They rocked in a Tim Burton on acid at a
carnival sort of way. Highly recommended. After
the show we all had our very first taste of White
Castle. Which, come to think of it, deserves it's
own paragraph.

First off, we don't have White Castle on the left
coast. We have it's superior godfather, In N Out.
But let it be said: White Castle is magical. See, I
was sicker than I'd been all tour yesterday
evening. I was 25% mucus, 35% headache, and 30%
self-pity. The other 10%: snips, snails, puppydog
tails. But I scarfed down some post show White
Castle, went to sleep in a real bed (thanks Matt &
Wendy), and woke up feeling wonderful. In other
words, White Castle: 1, Airborne, Advil, Multi
-Vitamins, Chicken Soup, Crushed Rhino Penis
Voodoo Cocktail: 0.

Onwards to Cleveland. Heavy Metal and Lebron
James await.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This whole not-shaving thing has gotten rather
enjoyable. You wake up every morning, push in your
contact lenses, and voila: you look slightly
different than the day before. And not in that
"Holy shit, my cowlick defies all laws of physics"
sort of way. More in a "I'm looking slightly more
lumberjack" sort of way. And really, who doesn't
like lumberjacks? Nobody. Except trees. But trees
hate everyone.

There, of course, is a problem: grooming. For
example, there's all this neck hair and there's that
part that's sort of climbing up my nose and, well, I
haven't figured out what the geometry of this
thing should be. So I've let it roam free. It's like a
very happy labrador. I think I'll name it "Jorge." Or
"Captain Gusto." Yeah. Captain Gusto's far

The other thing is that you've really got to wash
a beard. You notice this when you lick your lips, get
a little mustache, and it tastes like the Cheetos
you forgot you ate last night. In retrospect, I
should have seen this coming.

So, last post I forgot to mention that, upon
reaching New York, we had to say goodbye to the
Sammies between Manhattan and Union Hall. We
all have serious platonic manlove for those boys
who, when the going got tough, whooped the
going's ass. Purple, swollen, crushed hand? Fine.
They'll play bass with it. Missing guitar player?
Shit, son. They got back-ups living in their trailer.
Flat tire? Tie some sweatshirts around it and roll.
We miss those boys.

And, as is completely innevitable, I'm sick. Every
tour has it's feverish, ear-achey, phlegm rattling
week and that week is now. Ricola, I put my faith
in you and your yodeling Swedish chemists.

But let's not allow me to whine about that. You
can't spend countless nights drinking in loud
dungeons, getting to bed when HBO turns PG again
and not expect a bit of brain pain. Instead, let's
turn to Rochester.

We spent an extra night in upstate New York since
the Canadians crapped on our Toronto dreams, and,
beyond the endless, labrinthine search for a motel
that didn't remind us of Guantanamo Bay, we had a
grand ol' time. Well, expect for taking our free
afternoon to watch You, Me & Dupree at a second
-rate, second-run movie theatre. Let me put it this
way: we spent a dollar each to se it and we got
ripped off. I can count the times I laughed on my
middle finger.

In stark contrast to the abovementioned trashola,
the venue we played was really interesting. Called
the Bug Jar, this place had circling paper-mache
insects affixed to a ceiling fan, obviously stressed
from the weight of a three foot mosquito. It's
apparently the only place in Rochester where you
can watch anything but metal, meaning, among
other things, there will be far less bands purposely
misspelling their names at the Bug Jar than
anywhere else in town. Less strings on basses too.
And far less angry white man screaming. What
happened to metal, anyway? In the days of Black
Sabbath and Led Zep, metal was more interested
in melody, hallucinagens, and Tolkien. Then there
was that 80's well-conditioned hair, smiley metal
thing, followed by, well, basically what we've got
now. I miss Iron Maiden. Who doesn't?

Oh wait, they're still around? I'm going to slink
into this here hole and eat some grubs.

Monday, September 11, 2006


So...sorry about this. But since we're without a
work permit and our plot to play for free was shot
down by the Canadian border patrol, we have to
scurry back to the States. I'm sad. We're sad. We
never cancel shows, and, rather than getting
banned from the Maple Leaf, we're going home
because, hey, we want to come back. Hell, when
G.W. loses his mind and starts drafting everyone
without serious a mental retardation under the age
of 50, we might have to come visit. And by visit I
mean live in the Yukon, eat large furry mammals,
and learn to ice skate. See you again sometime.

A rather belated post dealing with all manner of Birdmonstery goodness; from Kirk Gibson to Canada and ports inbetween

So. Zach's sidekick, the portable internet, palm
sized Ms. Pacman portal from which I usually send
the blog has been having...issues. Like the lack of a
working "j" or "t," for example. Or the fact that
when you press the enter button it starts ringing,
lighting up in perplexing, epileptic ways, then spits
out a stream of jibberish where the line break
should be. Rather infuriating stuff, honestly. That,
coupled with the fact Dave's sidekick has actually
been installed inside his brain has prevented me
from posting recently. However: here I am. How
you may ask? Dave's brains are splattered all over
the ceiling, Pulp Fiction style. It was an accident. I

Much has happened beyond that oopsies homicide.
Hands have been run over, girlfriends have visited,
Canada has filled our bellies with blueberry crepes.
In fact, why am I dilly dallying? Let's go state by
state, leaving out the sometimes drab personal
show revues and focusing only on the weird, the
tragic, and the weirdly tragic. And whatever other
crap I feel like yammering about. As usual.

North Carolina.
Remember that year the Dodgers won the World
Series? It was when they had that unfortunately
named pitcher, Orel Hurschieser, whose moniker is
trumped by only a select few sporting figures,
most namely Dick Butkis, whose name alone
warranted the immense meanness he emmanated
at all times. What I remember was Kirk Gibson:
gimpy, improbable, totally clutch, coming up at the
bottom of some ninth inning, hitting a game winning
homerun, and struggling around the bases like a
geriatric weekend softballer. Well, the Sammies
have their own Kirk Gibson. His name is Bobby

See, their original guitar player was AWOL, sick,
totally unable to complete their tour past their
hometown of Charlotte. This information came in
tandem with the unfortunate accident of their
bass player's hand getting run over. By a car.
Great night for them, right? Put the whole Patrick
Stewart debacle in perspective. That perspective:
it was still horrendous, but at least we're in it
together, without throbbing personal injuries.

Enter their buddy, off-again-on-again tour
manager, grad school TA Bobby Freedom. Rather
than touring as a three-piece, Bobby learned songs
in the car, note for note, with impressive
precocious skill, and finished out the tour. I had to
give him a shout-out for that. In fact, I did every
night. By the end, he was dangerously close to
headbutting me. I can be annoyingly repetitive.
Annoyingly. Repetitive.

Washington DC.
By far the sweatiest show thus far. I left a
small, fetid puddle onstage. But one of, if not the
favorite show since we were home. DC is a weird
place: it's not really a state, it's filled with
enormous and completely useless patriotic pap, it's
where all my taxes go to die, and yet, it's always
been home to really good music and great venues. I
always find that odd. I want to go back very soon
and I will forever have happy DC memories. I may
even start smiling at C-SPAN, which is the
televised equivalent of a meat thermometer

Also, I finished Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on
the way there, winner of the Best Book I Can't
Believe I Hadn't Read By Now Award. Thanks to
the esteemed Gasoline Hobo for loaning me his
copy, which I shall return with a couple creased
pages and a big fat smile.

Oh, and Steve Irwin died that day. We dedicated
Resurrection Song to him. By the way: most
hardcore death ever. Stingray to the heart? I defy
you to pick a more manly way to go out. Brain
failure after a headbutt contest? Not even close.
At any rate, rest in peace Croc Hunter. You were
good-crazy, lovable, ridiculous, and too too young.

New York. New Jersey.
We next moseyed to Jersey, home of a really
menacing freeway, the Boss, and the butt of
many, many unfair jokes. It was our first evening
with Catfish Haven and Someone Still Loves You
Boris Yeltsin, who shall henceforth be abbreviated
in a variety of ways I find amusing. Both are
thoroughly pleasant, fairly soft-spoken, easy to
deal with bunches of gentlemen. Catfish is mostly
bearded, bespectacled, and have a moritorium on
multiple shirts. I've seen them in a grand total of
one each. If I tried this, the van would smell
vaguely of corpses. They play quality, American
rock and roll and sound like no one else I've ever
heard. Boris and Natasha are a quintet of less hairy
men with lots of harmonizing, dynamic changes,
and more clothing. They were once named Satan's

And you think I'm joking.

Our New York shows were, yet again, a blast. Our
girlfriends were in town, which was fantastic on
about seven million levels, and New Yorkers, yet
again, rocked out fitfully, sang along, and fed us
cat-sized sandwiches that led to the innevitable
meat coma. Pete's Mom brought us some movies
for the backseat and Pete's Dad slapped me,
twice, for no discernable reason. I'm pleased to
note Tango and Cash is now among our library,
which is one of the great goodbad movies of all
time. Gymkata and Demolition Man: shaking in
their boots.

The Mercury Lounge, by the way, is a fantastic
venue. Great stage, nice sound, free drinks out the
wazoo. I have nothing bad to say about it. Very
much a rock and roll club, without frills, with
money spent on all the right things. I mention this
because I'm about to heap copious quantities of
praise on the Union Hall and don't want it to get
jealous. I still love you, honey. Put the corkscrew

If you live in Brooklyn, go to Union Hall. In fact, if
you live within six hundred miles, you owe it to
yourself. It's got a formidable library, comfy
couches, and gigantic boche ball courts. That's
right: plural boche ball courts. It's like finding out
you have a sophisticated Italian gentleman for an
uncle who has you over and makes you pay for
drinks and food but you don't care because his
house is way nicer than yours. You probably steal
some of his silverware, just for the hell of it
though. That'll teach him.

After bidding adieu to NYC, feeling pleasant but
admittedly hung-over, we trundled off to
Massachussets, land of drunken way-too-serious
baseball fans, roughly nine hundred thousand
colleges, and the Middle East, a labrinthine venue
we loved, beyond the horrific service while we ate.
Our waitress gets an F plus. I'm just glad there
was no mucus in my humus.

We weren't in Boston for long though. Long enough
to come up with another awesome side project,
Lord Bicep and the Distended Estomagos, but not
long enough to do much more than live in the
venue, nurse that aforementioned hangover, park
at a Masonic Lodge, see a few old faces (one who
came out of faaaaar left field, is studying biology,
and made me feel like a genius for remembering his
name after seven years), and roll out of town to
some really soft beds and a really bad Jet Li
movie. But damn, we enjoyed ourselves. Except
during Unleashed, which just made us sad.

French! Corn! Politeness! Kilometers! A far superior
national anthem!

We're here now, actually, somewhere between
Montreal (home of bowel-clenchingly horrific
Chinese food) and Toronto (home of...well, I've
never been. The Blue Jays are from there though).
Yesterday was Montreal, after a lengthy but
successful stop at the border. We had to decline
payment for tonight's Toronto show since we
were sans proper paperwork, but a free show in
Canada is much better than a free night watching
bad television in Rochester. After a long series of
rowdy and sold-out east coast shows, we were
due for a weird, sparsely attended show in a
dungeon in a foreign country, right? I think so.
Last night's venue was somewhat like a stone
tube. I couldn't really stand up straight onstage
without a high chance of a self-inflicted
concussion and, well, I'm 5'7". In other words, I
hope the National never plays there. They'll end up
bruised and loopy, with lots of perplexing coinage.

But, hey Canada: you're pretty fantastic. We left
some laundry in our hotel and the desk lady hunted
us down at breakfast to give it back. Quebec...ers
have great accents. Your countryside is gorgeous.
Just close down that restaurant we ate at last
night. "Bog Goop" is not an acceptible sauce.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Well. I'm using a broken keyboard and avoiding specific le.... Damn. Onwards:

Kudzu. Just say that out loud. It's fun. It's a good
word. It doesn't necessarily sound like what it
actually is. No. It sounds like a third-rate stand-up
comedians who's opening up for Carrot Top and
even his audience isn't laughing. Either that or
some exotic delicacy that isn't quite as good as
you expected and then ends up giving you the runs.
Of course, it's neither. It's a plant. A vine, really.

Apparently, kudzu's from Japan but when it came
to the South, it really felt at home. It enveloped
trees, houses, the occassional abandoned front
yard jalopy and got the nickname "the plant that
ate the South" (which reminds me: Southern food
is delicious. We've been surviving mostly on collard
greens, loafs consisting of multiple, unknown
animals, and ribs. Lots of ribs. Birdmonster is dead.
Long live Clogged-Artery-Fatmonster). At any
rate, if you've never seen pictures of kudzu
devouring all neighboring architecture, plantlife,
and sedentary elderly people, you should check it
out. I'd recommend a book, but if you're anything
like me, google image search is far more accessible.
It's rather pretty, if not a little monotonous. Like,
say, driving through Kansas.

Since we've checked in last, we've been surrounded
by the stuff. Two shows in Georgia, two shows in
North Carolina, and a few backstage, backyard,
backwoods ho-downs. They seemed appropriate at
the time, anyway. The best among those was
almost certainly our show in Charlotte, erstwhile
home of the Sammies, which meant plenty of
rowdy, sing-a-long-in' drunks, meeting the parents
of half the band, and accidentally leaving my bar
tab open, which is a bummer as the Visualite was
a phenomenal club. At least I left tips. And one
was the ellusive two dollar bill tip, which happens
once a tour, when I'm feeling saucy, pleasant
generous, and need fast service for the remainder
of the evening. But we all know how I feel about
the 2, so let's move on.

Charlotte, beyond boasting one of the best crowds
thus far, both in size and rambunctiousness, also
introduced us to the Pendletons, a rather ass
-kicking Athens band who sounded at times as if
from Seattle and at other times from some town
in Appalacia that just got the electricity working.
They also joined us as we stormed the stage
during the Sammies' encore and for a Willie Nelson
inspired (or ripped off, I can't quite remember)
hee-haw session back stage after all was said and
done. Plus, sleeping on the Sammies' couch, eating
Otter Pops, and waking up to coffee is about 9000
times better than you average hotel. Alexander
the Grape concurs.

Georgia though, she's sort of a blur. There were
peaches I didn't eat, all that kudzu, and some
poorly paved roads. Athens is gorgeous, though.
Atlanta's the blur. In fact, know that I mention
Athens, there are a couple nifty factoids worth

First, Weaver D.'s. Delicious chicken, delicious pork,
delicious everything. Weaver D is this giant dude
with a lugubrious voice who ends your transaction
with the word "automatic" before providing you
with the aforementioned deliciousness. I bring this
up because the sign outside says "Weaver D's Fine
Foods; Automatic for the People." And yes, R.E.M.
was from Athens. See how it all comes together?

Second, the Georgia Bulldogs. See, out in San
Francisco, we've got sports too, but, frankly, we
suck. We've got the Giants, who are all geriatric, in
between roid rages, or both. We've got the 49ers,
who devolved from Dynasty to Pop Warner
laughingstock and the A's, who are always pretty
good but going to games is just depressing. I've
seen more fans at a girl's high school soccer game.
And the Warriors? Don't get me started. I loves
me some Warriors, but being a Warriors fan is like
having a nephew you really like, only every
weekend he gets drunk on Bartles and James,
crashes your car, and gets a raise in his allowance.
Anyway, the entire town of Athens was positively
consumed by the Bulldogs. We loaded out of the 40
Watt while the game was beginning and I swear,
the streets consisted of us, a few tumbleweeds,
and a frantic guy in cargo shorts running home with
two twelvers of Coor's Light. Sheer madness.

There's a couple more stories, but I'll save 'em for
another time. Plus, my thumbs are cramping. Same
place, say, Tuesday? That's okay. Wednesday
works too.