Sunday, October 21, 2007

Las Vegas

12:17 PM

The show last night was a lot of fun. We played in this tiny record store in Vegas called Balcony Lights. The owner of the store (who I think was the owner anyway) was a real character. He reminded me of that dude in Boogie Nights, you know, that scene with the small Asian man lighting off firecrackers. Remember? It was that hoser that liked Journey and insisted on defying the Man by putting his mix tapes in the song order he desired, not them. Maybe I thought this when the guy offered us a ton of weed. “No, you need to speak with the other guitar player,” we said, thanking him for his magnanimity. Quite an affable man.

The store sat in a thin strip mall with a 7-11, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut nearby. 60 or so kids crammed in and rocked out. I had a blast and sang a lot, since I could hear my voice for once. I spoke with my boy Spoon back in Jersey. He’s encountering rough times. Him and his girlfriend of a year split up. Now he’s back to living in his mom’s basement and feeling desperate and miserable. It’s a hard life. I wish I could chill with him, but I’m on the other side of the country.

Anyway, Vegas is weird, of course. Cars keep cruising by. People throw their bottles at a dumpster across the street. Why? Some guy walking his pit bull stopped to chat with us. The dog’s name was Cisco Nabisco. He had Billy hold the canine’s leash, then he’d yell, “Go, Cisco, GO!” and the dog charged ahead, dragging Billy like a rag doll dog chew toy. He then focused the pooch on Josh and shouted, “Get him!” Cisco sprinted for poor Josh, him yelping like a schoolgirl. He commented, “I like you dog but I don’t you biting my nuts off.”

After the show we made our way to the Excalibur.

Greg decided that if cost less than $100 to stay at this particular casino, then we would do it. The room cost $90. Excalibur was ours. We didn’t roll into the joint until after midnight. The lobby spread for what seemed miles, as if it was an airport. Despite the hour, the place teemed with all grades of humanity. We heard one guy complain to his wife, “I’m gonna kill that faggot, I’m gonna kill him.” Was this Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? And why are there families here? It’s fucking Easter, they can’t all be Jews and Agnostics! I see little kids tumbling about and it’s fucking midnight? Who takes the family to Vegas on Easter? Did they tell the children that the Easter Bunny might leave them lots of candy and riches while mommy and daddy blow their hard earned pay (your college funds) in the casinos? No wonder this country is fucked.

After an eternity, Billy procured the room keys and we trekked up to our room on the 21st floor in Tower 2. Our room overlooked one of the turrets. As you could eruditely deduce from the casino’s moniker, it boasts a medieval theme.

Greg, Josh, Jamie, Eric and I went down to the casino. Billy and Alex crawled into bed together. “We’re snuggle bears,” they said.

Jamie played the slots. He said to me, “Just because I like you, I’m giving you half of whatever I win.” He hit $60 and asked, “Should I cash out?” I responded, “The night is young.” He continued pulling the lever and wound up losing everything. In an instant I watched $30 vanish before my eyes.

An hour into our casino adventure, Greg wanted to hunt down a Del Taco. Jamie returned to the room, while the rest of us headed out to Tropicana to find food. I absorbed the scene outside, a sprawling metropolis of glitz and glamour. It looked like some psycho playground. You have the New York, New York across the way, a replica of that city’s landmarks replete with a roller coaster that runs all over the city. Then there’s MGM and Mandalay Bay and plenty more.

We walked for hours it seemed just to reach a McDonald’s that loomed ahead, only to find it closed. We then stopped at Mr. Deli. Everyone bought snacks, me shelling out .80 for two bags of peanuts. Then we walked back. I saw newspaper boxes lining the street full of circulars advertising escorts and phone sex. What other city would have so much sex on display? I recalled seeing similar material in Japan.

Once back in the room, I hit the floor and wrapped up tight in my sleeping bag. Now we’re on the road to Bakersfield. It is Monday. Monday is not a prime show night. What can you do? I abide by the old Minutemen ethos of no days off. As they stated, “If you’re not playin’, you’re payin’.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Death Valley

2:34 PM

Back in the desert. We played in San Diego and Long Beach. I ended up having a blast at both shows. It’s aggravating though, when all the audience wants to hear are old songs. Does that mean the new ones aren’t as good? I don’t know, this is a fickle sport. Not that I can really fathom doing anything else. I feel a need to write again.

I spoke with my parents today, it being Easter. My mom mentioned how my girlfriend alluded to us having children. Uhhhhh…. My older brother just had a baby, well, his wife did. My younger brother is engaged. Babies and marriage for your humble narrator? Not now, when I enjoy a job that pays $7.50 an hour, and a job I may not have when I return from this vigorous touring. We’ve played 16 shows. I crave the performance. But do I crave the actual music? Or am I over analyzing everything, my normal trait? I think too much. About everything. Being out here with miles and miles upon hours and hours of empty space to just sit and think, I am plagued with ponderings. And that gets me into trouble.

3:34 PM

The desert is gorgeous. Just off the rest stop oasis of Barstow, and now we pass the desert’s answer to the Hollywood sign: CALICO, perched to the north in the maroon mountains.

5:02 PM

Desert. Desert. Desert. And then Primm, Nevada! A taste of the madness to come. There’s Buffalo Bill’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chevron, Texaco…everyone out here is on their way to Vegas. Whiskey Pete’s sits across the street. The rest stop offers slots and everything here is chaos. Some guy tried to sell me cologne, now he eyes the van. Billboards everywhere announce: “WINNINGS IN THE AIR!” This, kids, is America. Hundreds of thousands are on their way to a mirage.