If I stop and think, I can remember the exact moment when my brain stopped working normally. It was a Tuesday. We had been recording for almost a week and half and I'd been doing that 18th century-Frenchman thing wherein you wear the same clothes for weeks on end, regardless of their slowly advancing funk, which is just a bad idea if the sweatshirt in question is white and you have a penchant for dribbling coffee down your chin. I was on the phone that day, talking to my girlfriend in an alley behind a wrought-iron gate that we later discovered was a popular urinal for passing hobos, and I asked her how the season premiere of LOST was. After a moment of speechlessness, she informed me that no, she had not seen season premiere, as that would have necessitated a car ride with either Dr. Emmett Brown or Marty McFly. "Ah," I remember thinking. "So, there's a Thursday now. Why was I not informed?"
See, we weren't going outside much. There was a rather pesky storm that hung around San Francisco like a family relative with foot fungus who watches TV-poker all day and drinks all your beer and, when you couple the weather with the always frightening environs of the Tenderloin, well, lets just say no one got a tan in the last few weeks. In fact, I'm sallow and translucent. Sad to say.
At this point, I'm coming back. I understand today is another Tuesday (they just keep coming, it turns out) and we're on a self-imposed two-day break from mixing. I went outside yesterday, saw humans with jobs and some semblance of hygiene, fell back in love with our City (or maybe it was just civilization), watched "King of Kong," and ate food that didn't end in "uritto" for the first time in, well, some time. Bear with me. I'm still re-calibrating.
So, with no small amount of effort, let us hop in that aforementioned Delorian and go back to the beginning. I think it was a Friday. It could, of course, have been a Wednesday.
The joke started on the first album. We had a grand total of three days in a real studio before going to our then-Producer's house to finish, well, everything. For four guys who'd squirreled away money from their straight-jobs for months just to throw together their first album, three days seemed like putting on your kid sister's First Communion dress: really tight, vaguely horrible, yet incredibly exciting. With this dramatically truncated schedule, with essentially our entire budget front-loaded into three days, and without having ever done anything like this before, it was definitely time for concentration, focus, and clutchness, which I'm aware is not a word but will be using anyway. In other words, it was Robert Horry time.
Now: I know. "More basketball," you're thinking. "First Shaq and now Robert Horry. You are a scrawny white boy. You must remember this." Thank you. I do. But when I think of being good when you have to be good, I think of Robert Horry, who, despite being one of the laziest men in professional sports, is also known as Big Shot Bob. You don't leave Big Shot Bob open when the game's on the line. He will make it and he will grimace at you and you will be sad.
Anyway, it's become one of those stupid running jokes friends have. When someone's suffering through the flu on tour and has to play for 45 minutes while sweating and hallucinating, it's Robert Horry time. When you have to drive 100 miles in an hour or you won't be able to play Toronto after the Canadian border tried to confiscate all your merchandise, it's Robert Horry time. When you have to eat beef brisket for breakfast, again, it's Robert Horry time. Granted, it isn't that funny, but we've spent three paragraphs getting here, so, uh, sit tight.
So here was the plan: the day before we recorded (WednesFriThursday, I believe that was), I set out to get a Robert Horry tattoo. Not a real one mind you, as my body is a temple of the holy ghost. No, a henna tattoo was what I was after. I figured it would be hilarious to roll up my sleeve on our first day of recording, say "it's Robert Horry time" and, you know, actually have Robert Horry on my arm.
Since I live near Haight-Ashbury, that famous district once home to a burgeoning counterculture, now home to the mush-brained remnants of that selfsame counterculture, I figured this would be easy. Why? Because henna is from India and hippies love India. I walked in the first place I saw, chatted up the European lass at the counter, and produced the following picture:
"I want this is henna on my arm," I said.
"It is impossible," she said.
Hmm. Maybe a Pistons fan. "Why's that?"
Here, I looked at the henna book on the counter. It was filled with all manner of looping spirals, paisley teardrops, and carefully constructed flora. I was confused. "This stuff looks way harder," I mused.
"I cannot shade in henna," she said. "It could only be an outline."
I thought for a moment: a miniature albino Robert Horry is better than no Robert Horry at all. "That's ok," I said. "How much would it run me?"
"It is not okay," she said. "I cannot do it."
"Because I cannot."
"Ah," I said. "I see."
But really, I didn't see. I still don't see. If I want to waste some money and have the racially ambiguous torso of Big Shot Bob on my forearm, isn't it my right to have it? The medium didn't seem totally averse to my plot; it was just this woman, I told myself. She would rather draw squiggles on tourist's wrists. That's okay. Robert Horry is an intimidating man. So I went down the street and found another henna place. Then another. And another. Then I went home with bare arms, tried to draw a stick-figure Robert Horry in Sharpee, only to have it look more like Oswald Cobblepot, before washing him off dejectedly and breaking down in the bathroom, a la The Crying Game, except, you know: no trannies.
In the end, when we loaded into Hyde Street that first day, I was Bob-less. But by that evening, while enjoying the first of many cheap American lagers and playing an almost-in-tune piano, nothing mattered less. After all, Robert Horry was a joke; making a new album was serious.
...ah, who am I kidding? I'm still pissed.