Tuesday, October 21, 2008


This tour occurred in the year 2004. The band I played in was called Hot Cross. The band we toured with was called Lickgoldensky. Both bands are long dead and buried.

Venue Types and the Number of Each We Played

Basements: 7
Bars/Clubs: 8
DIY run spaces: 10
Schools/Colleges: 6
Pizza parlors: 2
Record stores: 2
Bowling alleys: 2
Boxing rings: 1
Garages: 1


Houses: 22
Hotels: 16
Dorm Rooms: 1
Casinos: 1

Van Maintenance (for two vans)

Oil change: 4
U-bolt: 2
Drive shaft: 1
Windshield: 1


Total shows: 39
Total shows cancelled: 2
Radio live sets: 1
Radio interviews: 2
Number of states played in: 26
Per Diem: $10
$$$ in my wallet March 26: $70
$$$ in my wallet May 5: $77
Parking/Speeding tickets: 4
States I have never been to: Montana, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii


March 26: Cromwell, CT
March 27: Boston, MA
March 28: Amherst, MA
March 29: New York, NY
March 30: Reading, PA
March 31: Newark, DE
April 1: Blacksburg, VA
April 2: Asheville, NC
April 3: Harrisburg, VA
April 4: New Orleans, LA
April 5: Houston, TX
April 6: Austin, TX
April 7: Oklahoma City, OK
April 8: Phoenix, AZ
April 9: San Diego, CA
April 10: Long Beach, LA
April 11: Las Vegas, NV
April 12: Bakersfield, CA
April 13: Los Angeles, CA
April 14: Goleta, CA
April 15: Santa Cruz, CA
April 16: Oakland, CA
April 17: Portland, OR
April 18: Bellingham, WA
April 19: Seattle, WA
April 20: Sacramento, CA
April 21: Boise, ID
April 22: Denver, CO
April 23: Lawrence, KS
April 24: Omaha, NE
April 25: Sioux Falls, SD
April 26: Iowa City, IA (CANCELLED)
April 27: Columbia, MO (CANCELLED)
April 28: St. Louis, MO
April 29: Chicago, IL
April 30: Lansing, MI
May 1: Toledo, OH
May 2: Bloomington, IN
May 3: Louisville, KY
May 4: Pittsburgh, PA
May 5: Allentown, PA
May 6: Visit to Spruce Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. Prognosis: no Lyme disease

The European tour to follow this one did not happen. Sorry Niels. Instead we toured the U.S. again....Tour journal may or may not be published.


2:13 PM

Last day. We’re on the PA Turnpike en route to Allentown. Last night found us in the Steel City, a.k.a. Pittsburgh, and the show went well. 60 or so kids came and everyone seemed to have a good time. I certainly did. Alex didn’t seem to. He’s been aloof lately. During our Louisville sojourn, he hid up in Evan’s room. I suppose the traveling gets to him. During their set he seemed even more defiant and combative towards the audience than usual. Some conjecture that the internet is negatively affecting him, in particular messageboards where kids put down his band. In spite of its many attributes, I think this DIY hardcore world was a much better place before the net took over. It’s akin to mass media spreading dominant consumer American culture across the globe. Where once every scene was distinct, now everyone looks the same, their bands sound the same, their webzines cover the same bands.

Josh and I sat out on the curb before the show, eating Lo Mein from down the street. Matt went to a convenience store. The clerk asked, “Is there a show tonight?” Matt responded in the affirmative. The clerk chuckled and said, “The only time I see white people down here is when there is a show.” I guess the Roboto Project is in a non-white region of the city. I don’t know much about Pittsburgh, we could have been in Oil City or Altoona, I wouldn’t have known. Though I live in Philadelphia, the western end of the state is a whole other country to me. We’re in the small liberal metropolitan enclave in a largely conservative, rural state. It’s six hours from Philly. But it was sunny and warm, so Pittsburgh seemed alright.

Yeah, somehow I am happy. Maybe it’s knowing that I will sleep in my own bed tonight. Next time I need to develop methods for warding off sickness, muscle pain, malnourishment and unhealthy sleeping habits. Ha, but I suppose those are the hallmarks of touring.

So this is it kids, the end my beautiful friend. I endured 40 days of traveling with seven dudes playing music and seeing the country. We left March 26 and it feels like years ago. I won’t pretend like it was without problems. I probably spent a good chunk of the time in misery. But many times, when I least expected it, everything was perfect. Like standing and gazing at the Pacific Ocean in San Diego and Isla Vista, playing at Gilman and then Las Vegas in a record store on Easter, eating at California Vegan on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. and that bowl of lentils soup at the Melrose Diner in Chicago after weeks of junk food, the guy in Denver profusely thanking me for playing and how I am the reason he plays guitar. This is the beginning for us. But I don’t know what comes next for me. Doctor tomorrow. Work on Monday. As brutal as this tour became, as horrible as I felt- none of it was worse than going to work. Routine and the security of a job can be comforting. Yet it is pales in comparison to performing music on the road. I leave this inspired and tired, excited and exhausted.

Sign Along The Highway: Llamas for Sale

3:15 PM

Every “normal” civilian will ask the same questions when I return to the “real” world: did I make any money? How much? How can I keep a job? Why do I do this? These are understandable queries. Most reasonably sane and responsible individuals do not forgo stable careers to play music in front of 21 bored-looking teenagers in Lawrence, KS. I don’t know if I will take home one red cent from this tour (where does the phrase “red cent” come from?). I don’t know if I will have a girlfriend (for long) if I continue doing this. I don’t know if my boss will continue allowing me to take off for touring, though he is a lover of music (dude saw Husker Du in the 80s) and loves hearing my tales of the road.

Despite the uncertainties, the peril, the near certainty of failure, I do this. We do this. We need to. I need to anyway. Besides, this is a hell of a lot more interesting and fun than working an office job or at the mall. Sure, maybe most of my peers make 10 times what I make and earn 10 times the respect from their peers. But can they say they toured across the country with a band? I’d rather be rocking. Thanks to this band, I have been to all but four states in this nation. I’ve traveled to and played shows in Japan, Germany, France and Switzerland. I’ll go to Canada, England, Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I can hold records and CDs that I’ve performed on, artifacts that I’ve done more with my life than make other people money.

I realized a long time ago that I can’t waste any time doing what I hate, living a life I despise. Taking risks is what it feels like to live.

Sign Along The Highway: Jesus is Coming as Lightening…Are You Ready?

Friday, July 4, 2008


2:31 PM

Two days and all of this will come to an end. By this time next week, I will be back at my job. That is not a pleasant thought. I somehow miss Philly, New Jersey, home. It’s as if I have a newfound appreciation for where I am from. You take the place you live and the things you see everyday for granted. You expect them to always be there, to never change. Maybe I will explore more, do more upon returning. There are many people I’ve neglected, a community I ignored. Do I want to be a part of something anymore? I don’t know.

The show last night was another in a final stretch of tepid shows. The next two shall be little different. Pittsburgh and Allentown on weeknights? But that is OK. Despite my debilitated body, I enjoyed playing the past two nights. In large part, this is due to me not worrying anymore. It doesn’t concern me how many kids come to the show or how many T-shirts we sell. I just want to play. Finances are a constant concern. When I return home, I will have bills to pay. Some can argue a band should tour on $60 a day. That may hold true- if the van doesn’t break down, the band never stays in a hotel, you are independently wealthy or independently supported by your parents, or if you steal a lot. I understand what is needed to tour like we are touring. But I don’t enjoy worrying about affording it. The most we’ve been paid is $270. Last night we were paid $50. Most nights, the figure hovers around $80. In merchandise, we sold over $1,000 at a fest in Virginia. Last night we were lucky if we pulled in $30.

And when I am home? My boss won’t be enthusiastic when I tell him I am touring in July and then most of the fall. How do I balance it out and not feel like I am either on the precipice of bankruptcy or selling out?

One band played last night. I know, many did. But this one included older dudes, you know, mid-to-late 30s or older. Some members did time in more prominent DC area bands of yore. Their singer Jason introduced one song commenting on how he, like others in the room, was addicted to the sound. Those addicted need to play music, they need to listen to music; they need to actively create it and live it. I am 28 years old. I can never foresee a time when I am not making music. I think I forget the basis of what I am doing out here sometimes. It’s easy to allow the crap and the business to cover what lays at the heart: love of music, lust for performance.

Yet we face the constant battle: the Real World vs. the Ideal. Who wins? Should that be a question and are those opponents genuine? I will tour Canada in July and Europe for 36 days in autumn. How will I afford it? What will I come back to? Will my girlfriend tolerate this? I feel like the opportunities are now, the time is now, so I must do this now. Sometimes I feel too old to do this, when other bands are 19 and living at home. But I also feel too old to start a new career, er, a career. I may pass for 20 but I don’t live the life of a 20 year old. Actually, I do, and that is the problem. Is it too late to do anything? What “real” job would hire me now? I have no choice and nothing to lose. Except everything.

2:57 PM

Last night after the show we retired to Ramsi’s. I sat with Greg, Matt, Ryan, Jason and the bassist of his band. Jason was genuinely friendly and magnanimous. He just played a show to maybe 30 kids and he was happy to be there. His attitude is unfortunately novel. So many other band dudes would have been distraught and crestfallen in the face of such a turnout. Jason clearly is down here for the love of it, not money, not a career, not fame. Ryan offered stories of bands he has done shows for who balk and complain when “only” 100 kids show up. I don’t want to be in that band. I want to play my heart out to six kids, like I did in Bloomington. I regret not talking more on this tour, and instead hiding and craving solitude over hanging out and communicating.

Monday, June 16, 2008


2:30 PM

Outside the Vendome Copper and Brass Works and across from the Louisville Extreme Park, I bask in the sun on this Monday afternoon. Blinding pain hammers at any serenity I may have enjoyed. The sinus infection, the pink eye, the exhaustion, the malnutrition- I can deal with those. But the back pain is crippling. It was a minor irritant yesterday. Then we played. For some reason I decided to go off and have fun. Maybe it’d cure my ailments, I naively surmised. Instead it waged an all out war on my back. Either I pinched a nerve or strained a muscle or slipped a disc, whatever the cause, it hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s all Pilates and yoga when I get home.

Tour nears its wretched demise. Three shows left and then its back to normal life. I am not so sure I want to return it, despite all of my whining and crying.

Louisville feels like a reasonably cool place. We’re staying with the brothers Patterson. They reside in a pretty swank house with a rather kick ass dog. Everyone went to a music store, so I decided to explore. They’re promising bountiful food later, I hope they don’t disappoint.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bloomington, IN


Still sick and broken. I’m congested, have a soar throat, a pinched nerve and some form of pink eye. Perhaps Lyme’s disease. Gee-zus. The pink eye is a fresh affliction. I awoke on the floor of the motel outside Toledo with my right eye glued shut. After cracking it open, I saw (with the left eye) that the right oozed a snot-like substance, while the eyeball itself was a bight apple red. A happy camper I am not.

Last night was lackluster, though the Speedo wearing singer of one band did drop kick a wall and go through it. He did not expect that. The attack on the wall left him with cut up ankles. Prior to the show, we tried to waste time in Toledo. It is hard to waste time on a rainy Saturday in Toledo, OH. Us being a hellraising, hard-partying Harley riding rock band, we went to the library. Somehow we lounged there for hours. The show occurred in a building the locals claimed was haunted. Not sure about that. The sight of specters would have improved the joy of the evening.

Before Toledo we played at am unhinged beer fest party in Michigan. The basement was a tornado of drunken kids. The promoters were wasted. The show did not begin until 11 or so. We played with Ryan’s band, and I seriously anticipated the bear-like Ryan doling out serious street justice on the inebriated heathens who spilled beer on him during every song. LGS refused to play, though McFuck was quite upset over that decision. We went on who knows what time to a lot of people thoroughly blanked out of their minds. Short, furious set. We split just before the skies split apart and dumped oceans of rain.

5:27 PM

Me enjoying the solitude of the van in Bloomington, IN. Seems like a quiet, peaceful college town. It is finally sunny. I walked around a bit. I love doing that when I get the chance in the towns and cities we play. The kids at the house where the show is going down mentioned making food for us. That is music to these starving ears. If we received a modicum of food at even half the shows it would make a huge difference. Why do bands desert this scene, sign dotted lines for big labels and tour on busses in big rock venues? Because they hope to play each night, knowing they have a contract with a promoter who must provide them with a guaranteed payment, food or money for food, adequate promotion and a venue that won’t get closed by the cops. I see the other side, understand its allure. The DIY end of the spectrum needs to ante up. Treat people like a nuisance for too long and they will leave you beyond.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

St. Louis

11:38 AM

Feeling somewhat better, though my throat feels like I swallowed a handful of open safety pins. I barely slept last night. As soon as I return home, the g-friend is forcing me to go to the doctor to see if I indeed have Lyme disease. Fucking ticks. When we evaluate the symptoms, it looks grim for your protagonist: flu-like symptoms, soar neck, insomnia, irritation at tick bite, just no bull’s eye. Apparently the bull’s eye appears in 50% of cases. Sweet. I am fucked by a centimeter in diameter arachnid. Or insect. Or whatever.

Our hotel experiences the past 24 have been amusing. Jamie claims we’re missing out on the true nature of touring by evading staying at kid’s houses and opting for the safe normalcy of hotels. Last night proved more interesting than any house we stayed at on this tour.

We stayed at a Super 8 in Litchfield, IL. The room was cramped with a general filth about it. Ants swarmed the bathroom tile floor and cracked tub. Some ventured out into the room by the desk and the bedside table. We could look past those flaws though: the room was $50 and we were exhausted after a long of day of sitting in a Laundromat reading Spin magazine.

So we’re watching TV, probably Sport’s Center since I am in a band of jocks. I get up to swallow some sinus medicine, when I hear voices in the hallway. It struck me as strange, seeing as how one normally does not hear talking at 1:30 AM in the halls of a motel. Someone muted the TV. We hear, “Someone help. Help!” More indiscernible words. We tiptoe to the door, hoping it is locked. We hear a female voice, and a male voice, with words and phrases appearing from the din: “TV,” “knife,” “money,” “prank.”

At first, I think it’s two people cracked out on meth that roam the motel halls. It begins to sound like there is a struggle. We hear the woman say, “It’s all a prank. This is for MTV. The show Punk’d. Ashton Kutcher is right outside. It’s all for an MTV show.” We’re thoroughly confused and unsure how to proceed.

We hear another man and another woman. He asks, “What’s your name?” She responds, “Elizabeth Taylor.” “How old are you?” “21.” Then the first guy says, “She took money from me. She robbed me. She has a knife.” “No, no!” she shouts. “It’s all a prank. It’s for Ashton Kutcher. He’s in his car outside with Demi Moore. I don’t have a knife.”

More ruckus ensues. The other woman calmly says, “I want her brought up on assault charges. I have bruises all over me.” Then we hear a police officer, then cuffs clinking. He says, “I see a knife on the floor, is that hers?” Then he asks, “Where is the money?” followed by “Put your clothes back on.” Someone then explains, “She worked here as a clerk at the beginning of the year and was fired for stealing from the rooms.” The office asks her, “What have you ingested?” She answers, “Just a few beers, that’s all.” Then everyone is gone and all is quiet.

Later on I awoke at 5 AM and could not fall back asleep. The people upstairs made an awful calamity. Perhaps they raced horses around the room or set up a makeshift bowling alley. The TV then switched on just in time for a George W. Bush commercial. Ghosts of dead Republicans trying to brainwash us into voting for their boy? One can only wonder.

3:27 PM

Completely and utterly fucked. The sinus medication has ruined me. Everything spins and swirls. I can’t see straight. I can’t think straight. St. Louis is hot. I’m in a T-shirt and sweating. We ate at a small bagel place called Meshuggah in a hip area. Cue 7/5 time mosh here. The girl cut me a deal on my peanut butter and jelly bagel. Why are the girls cutting me deals? I look like a car wreck. I did shave today, but I’ve worn this Q and Not U shirt at least the past eight days. I’ve worn these jeans two weeks, the boxers with the dogs on them for at least five days and the argyle socks two days. I draw the line at the socks.

6:22 PM

Just ate falafel that completely devastated my stomach. No need to eat anything more today. We hung out with an old friend of Matt’s at the mall. He works in a funeral parlor. He offered lots of gruesome stories. For instance, they superglue the cadaver’s lips shut. When someone donates organs, the corpse is hung from the back of the neck on a meat hook. When fluids are drained, sometimes it leaks out of the eyes. He said his boss constantly jokes with him, asking him to stick pins into the dead bodies’ hands or having him handle the dead babies. Fuck food.

7:55 PM

I’m sitting on the curb outside of the venue. This is a super DIY arts space here in St. Louis. I prefer these spaces. There’s more space than a basement, though not as big as a hall and nowhere near as shitty or cliché as smoke-filled bar or club. They’re run for and by the kids. Sure, the PA might suck and there might not be enough power for the amps. But this feels a little more like home. I lifted Jamie’s amp and carried it inside. I felt hemorrhoids brewing in my groin, muscles popping in my shoulders and a tearing in my side. I’m a wimp.

St. Louis is an interesting place. We’re in the economically disadvantaged area, which the locals say is becoming gentrified. I see African-Americans, white punks and bohemians- indeed, the cycle commences. What can you do? Rents soar in “white” areas. So poor whites move into poor black regions. The more financially well-off white folks see that the area isn’t so dangerous and begin moving in, along with their cafes, restaurants, cars, art galleries and boutique clothing shops. Then the chain stores roll in. The original non-white inhabitants can no longer afford the rent and move out. What can be done? Big issue, one that I am no about to solve on this curb.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iowa City


We’re kicking it in some ultra-modern café in Iowa City. This is serious college town. Yesterday saw us here as well. Everywhere we walked we came upon posters for our show, a harsh fact slapping us in the face every time we saw them. We did not play. The LGS van remains in Omaha. Turns out, the U bolts need to be replaced and the drive shaft must be rebuilt. Thanks McFuck! Our singer is stranded there with them, so no rock for the rest of us. Now they wait for a part to arrive, which could be anytime between now and Friday. Today is Tuesday. Yeah, it’s heavy.

My illness rages. I feel slightly better, but still out of it. This is exactly how I felt when the sickness struck in Europe. I went to sleep last night in my sleeping bag, sweatshirt on and the hood pulled right over my aching head. I got up to urinate for about 15 minutes, then returned to sleep. That ended violently at 7 AM when a loud, piercing whine shook me awake. The fire alarm went off in the hotel, the AmericInn. It was a false alarm. Yet we still went outside for half an hour. I did not need that. Went back to sleep for three hours, dined at the Village Inn, had a surprisingly tasty though expensive Boca Burger, hit up Wal Mart, bought three oranges and now we reside back in Iowa City.

Depending on what happens with the LGS van, we’ll either go to St. Louis or Chicago. Tonight’s show in Columbia, Missouri is cancelled. Last night, two bands did play here at Gabe’s Oasis. While propping myself up on the merch table (we are capitalists, we still sold merch though we did not play), a female approached. “Do I know you?” “Uhhh, no, I don’t think so.” “Really? You look so familiar.” She donned punk attire of studded belt, hair streaked black and pink and face heavily caked in make up. Since I have zero knowledge of these matters, I have no idea if she was being friendly, if I look like an acquaintance or if she was hitting on me. Who knows? I will never see her again. Unless we come back to Iowa City.

Before the show we hung out at the promoter’s apartment. It was astonishingly clean, considering boys live there. You can always tell what a house and especially a bathroom will look like when only males reside in said places. This abode defied that popular touring band theorem. Prior to this we had sushi. Maybe Iowa is not the hotbed of proper sushi, but I detested it. Perhaps my cold and cold medicine interfered.

Anyway, two shows are cancelled and possibly a third. I don’t mind last night since I felt so thoroughly fucked. Still, we’re here to play, not lounge in cafes and hotel rooms. As Mike Watt astutely observed, if you ain’t playin’, you’re payin’. I long for the comfort of home, of Philly, of the east coast. I’m realizing nowhere compares to home, though southern California is rather nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


3:38 PM

I’m sick. Not in an existential, I’m riddled with debilitating First World anxiety sick. No, sick as in I need a doctor or a stuffed bottle of Ibuprofen. The symptoms kicked in two days ago. Perhaps it’s allergies, Lyme disease, exhaustion. I barely slept three hours last night. Matt snoring and a stomach ache are to blame. The region on my leg where the tick attacked me is irritated. Either I have Lyme disease or its head remains in me or both, double your fun style fuck yeah! Hunger is all I know. Eating has become a luxury. Next time I need to better prepare myself for these excursions.

There is some chance we won’t play tonight. LGS is having its van repaired in Omaha. Eric backed into a pillar at the hotel in Boise. Somehow that minor incident cracked U bolts, whatever the hell those are. If they make it, it will be by the skin of their teeth.

As demolished as I feel, I want to play. Last night was solid, albeit abbreviated. The show went down in the basement of a school arts center or something. A ton of very young kids came. Six bands played, too many. Who wants to sit through that many bands? Not I. The local heroes took their sweet time and left us with maybe 15 minutes to play. Add to this the bizarre Sioux Falls 11 PM curfew for anyone under 18, and there went most of the audience. So it goes. There are always obstacles, always pitfalls and traps and snares hiding along the way of life. What determines who we are is how we handle those hurdles. Do we hide from them, stay at home and remain in fear and wonder what could have been if we really lived? Or do we face what scares us most, do we run outside to chase our dreams and live out our desires?

I feel awful. At least it took 32 days until I felt the familiar crushing headache, searing soar throat and thick gooey phlegm clogging my sinuses.

We’re driving through Iowa with Propagandhi on the stereo. More farms, cornfields, barns, silos, rest stops, cows and horses. I should move to Casey, Iowa. Dork.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


2:18 PM

We’re chilling here in Lincoln, NE. We played in Omaha last night. We pulled up to the Ranch Bowl, a huge bowing alley complex, to see a spacious bus parked out front. Who could that be, we wondered. Inside we went to investigate the meaning behind the pro touring vehicle. We came upon a canyon-like room, with a band onstage sound checking. Were we playing in this room, on that stage, with whatever big rock band glowered down upon us? No. We were playing the smaller room directly adjoining this one. Sweden’s own International Noise Conspiracy was the band in the middle of fine-tuning the sound of their equipment and the PA. The upshot of this was us playing 100 feet from INC. This did not bode well. Who would choose crappy us over mammoth INC? Nothing we could do but load in, set up the merch and eat French fries from the bar or bowl a game or two.

Prior to the show, we enjoyed an afternoon in downtown Omaha. We wallowed for what felt like hours in a record store. I grow bored easily in them. I know, I should rejoice like a kid on his birthday. But no. I half-heartedly flipped through some used records, picked up one of the books to leaf through.

From there we made our way to food, which was crucial. Had above average Thai. Later on we performed and it was one of the best sets of the tour in my opinion. A lot of kids came, shocking considering the competition next door. In between songs, we could hear INC playing. At the end of the night, we were told about the same number of people attended both shows. That ain’t sayin’ much for a band payin’ for a bus.

Afterwards we drove to Lincoln to say with some dudes in a band that played with us. We tried to procure nourishment at a joint called Amigos, but it was infested with collegiate swine. Finally we arrived at the house of one of the aforementioned band members, and stayed up talking well past 4 AM. I fell asleep on an animal-hair encrusted couch (most from the cat we played catch with. Yes, catch. We’d throw a bottle cap, the feline would chase it down, pick it up in her sharp teeth, and bring it obediently back to us). She was Glamour, the young insane cat. They also had a rotund black cat we never saw, as well as a very cool Dalmatian. I woke up at 1:30 and still feel like a tractor-trailer mashed into me.

3:52 PM

I feel better mentally than I have in days. A fun show and sunshine can be credited for the shift from glass-half-empty to glass-half-full. The skies have punished us with rain nearly the entire trek. We currently cruise up Rt. 77 towards Sioux Falls. It’s interesting to be out here. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee has told me much about the torrid history of these fields and these hills that surround me, flying by and behind me. These lands saw the last battles of the Native American tribes in their quest to rid themselves of the European descended oppressors. How can the children of those rebel fighters not look at us with some hint of contempt? Ghost faces plaguing ancestral lands in swarms. Our skin and our presence are constant reminders of their defeat. This is empire. Conquer destroy settle colonize. It continues in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Somewhere in that hazy terrain of last night, a political discussion erupted. Mike from a local band began venting about Bush. Javid mentioned his opinion that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000. I was too beaten to counter this oft-spoken liberal contention. People who voted for Nader by and large would not have voted for Gore. It’s common knowledge that Bush essentially stole the election. Read Greg Palast’s insightful book on that. I need to better inform myself on current affairs. We’ve been out here 31 days. I barely know what day it is let alone what’s happening politically or in the world. This, from a dude with a degree in Journalism and Political Science. College degrees are for weinies.

Anyway, the Midwest and the Great Plains are vast landscapes of green and brown. People here stare at us like we’re from Mars. People seem slower here, and say quirky things, like calling soda “pop” and grocery bags “sacks.” I know, I’m from the east coast. I automatically am born with superiority complex.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Colorado Continued

10:29 AM

While driving yesterday, I reflected to myself on the beauty of South Carolina’s finest, Assfactor 4. On the day of that tragic break-up that I detailed earlier, I forgot that I also purchased Assfactor 4’s “Sometimes I Suck” 7-inch. It was good, but nowhere near as crushing and brilliant as the “Smoked Out” 7-inch.

Thinking about the 4 reminds me of my first job. I worked as a bus boy at a bed and breakfast across from the beach in Spring Lake, NJ. Every day I drove there blasting “Smoked Out.” I required something fast and punching to kick-start a rotten day of toil. The proprietor never trained me. That left me winging it as I went along. I spilled water on patrons, dropped cubes of butter in their laps and tried to hide in the back room or on the porch as frequently as possible. My coworkers and I stole food, a finger-full of cake here, a handful of fries there. I talked some to the waitresses, despite debilitating shyness. After three weeks, my older brother said they needed another guy on their aluminum siding crew. I quit and took what wound up being an even more agonizing mode of employment.

10:41 AM

Greg asked me yesterday how long I’ve been out of college. I answered: “Five years.” Has it been that long? As he commented, “What have I done since then?” Both of us have been productive, him with a hot indie record label, me with, uhhhh, well, let us investigate the matter: two salaried jobs, two wage slave jobs, five tours with this band, various writings in zines and magazines. Spoon told me that he ran into some old friends of ours. They asked the standard question: “So what are you doing now?” By that they mean “what is your job” and by asking that they seek to determine if you have risen above them on the social scale of income. He responded, “I work here, at this diner.” They laughed, and asked again, “No, really, what are you doing?” Poor Spoon is just trying to make ends meet and figure out what to do next.

We’re all figuring out what to do next. These days people live with their parents past 30, can’t find jobs that pay a livable wage and look up from beneath a mountain of debt they cannot hope to climb out from. These are hard times. Is having a “real job” any guarantor of security? Ask the downsized. I decided at my last real job that it would be my last real job. It crushed me. I wanted to be able to do what I’m doing right now. If I ran into those old friends and they fired the Question at me, how would they view the answer? Most people envy what we do. Despite the poverty, the uncertainty and the wear and tear, most people would love to play in a band and travel around the country.

Still, if we went to our high school reunions, what would our former classmates make of us? My high school reunion is this year. What would I say if I went? “I’m in a band that’s played over 100 shows in the past year, that’s put out albums and that’s toured the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada. I’ve written a lot and work at a bookstore.” How would that be received? I don’t care. I stopped trying to impress people in junior high.

This reminds me of when I saw a friend of my older brother. He left Jersey for Los Angeles nearly 17 years ago to pursue an acting career. Only now is he beginning to acquire bit parts in semi-seen TV shows. He said to me, “I look around at my old friends here in Jersey and they’re old. They look beaten. They’re alcoholics or meth heads. They work heating and cooling. They’re dead. I never regret moving and going after my dreams.” Is that what I am doing? Chasing my dreams in the middle of Colorado with the screaming wind whipping icy rain against the van?

11:05 AM

I think part of my problem lately with some performances is a feeling of disconnect with the people watching us. I don’t feel any bond and I don’t try to forge one. That is my fault. Should I feel a connection with them? Not once on this tour have I addressed the audience, though I did on past tours. Part of me feels like I have nothing to say and part of me knows that I have nothing new to say. Sure, I could mention the war and the Bush junta and the greatness of DIY hardcore in the face of encroaching Clear Channel cooptation. But it’s been said. How do I talk and have it come out sincere and unique? I miss the idealism of my early days in this. I miss the feeling of community, of a movement. Now it feels more like the hollow shell of modern day communism, more like the aftermath of a bowel movement. We are in Kansas and just passed a tractor-trailer flipped on its side. That is real life, that is movement, or the lack thereof.

Sign upon entering this town: “Gorham, KS. Spud Whitman- Professional Bull Rider”

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Day 29
9:44 AM

It figures that we play Denver when the city experiences a rare spring snowstorm. The weather was frigid and rainy when we arrived. Imagine being pelted with broken icicles. I drove from somewhere in Wyoming to Denver. We encountered snow along the way.

A lot of kids came. We met some reasonably awesome people and enjoyed ourselves beyond the performance aspect of the evening.

As we prepared to leave, a helpful citizen informed us that Denver expected over a foot of snow by morning. We then high-tailed it out of there, despite various members of our party looking forward to an evening with morally dubious females.

As we exited Denver’s city limits, the blizzard enveloped us. Everything became violently white. No street, no lights, just snow. We could have been driving through a cornfield and we would be none the wiser. Eventually the celestial shapes of other autos appeared from the snow void. After an hour or so, the snow eased a bit. We were exhausted, hungry, tired. We yearned for a Denny’s. In Limon, Colorado we found our Denny’s, all of us exalting triumphantly upon seeing her gold, green and red sign flying high in the snowy night like a beacon of hope. A hotel stood barely one hundred feet away. We’ve stayed at a lot of hotels, but on this night such a means of lodging proved crucial.

Greg, Josh, Matt and I lugged our weary frames into the empty Denny’s (Billy was stuck with the LGS van, possibly flipped in a snowy embankment somewhere on that deadly highway). Mark was the sole host/waiter on duty. He emitted a vibe of total outcast. Something about his attire, his demeanor, his diction marked him as a bona fide leper. He wore heavy, ugly glasses and a botched, pseudo-military crew cut to match. I’d say he wasn’t a day under 45. Mark also featured the terminal illness of not being able to close his mouth. He talked to us as if he fired his words in machine gun volleys. The Latino cook- the only other employee or human in the restaurant- merely shook his head in forlorn recognition of our pain, a pain he must endure every shift, all night long. Mark discussed his home life, his friends, his town, how his brother watched it rain in the backyard while Mark saw it sunny out front. After our meal (quickly shoveled down, mine consisting of a plate of seasoned fries and toast- the toast of course dripping with butter though I requested it dry- $1.79 down the shitter), we retired to our $58 hotel room. As we drifted off to sleep, LGS arrived with Billy in tow. They attempted to drive through the night to Lawrence, KS. They stopped for sleep at a rest stop parking lot, and decided a night in our hotel room would prove far more advantageous. We awoke early to find them already gone, meaning no more than three hours of sleep for them. This is not a vacation.

10:24 AM

I can’t believe we’ve been at this for almost a month. When we left feels so far away. How do bands tour months on end? I’m at my wit’s end. Driving is driving me crazy. The lack of sleep, the malnutrition, people, the dog shit weather- all of it is debilitating. I yearn to be healthy again. I crave a day alone to cleanse myself of the dead skin cells accumulating on me from the fuckers around me. Do I want to tour like this? Do I want a normal job? Hell no, I guess I stay the course.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Utah, Wyoming

11:32 AM

Somehow a hummus bagel from Einstein Bagels in Provo, Utah did not fill me up. Josh yelled at Mormon children. A family- two boys with big pale ghost-eyed faces and a non-descript mother- sat behind us enjoying their bagels. One of the boys knocked his drink all over the floor. We heard the instantaneous splash of 8 ounces of apple juice slapping on the freshly mopped floor with a smack. This brought a representative of the establishment out to clean up the spill. As we got up to depart, Josh slipped on the still-damp floor. “FUCK MAN!” He barked. “This is bullshit!” The family looked at him in horror, a shade of total panic coloring their eyes.

Prior to that episode, I gazed off into the surrounding mountains. The strip mall and its surrounding structures seemed barely six months old, cut into the mountainous terrain with all the finesse of surgeon wielding a rusty saw blade to perform a transplant (cue Carcass songs here).

This is Utah.

I think I am looking at the Rockies. Utah looks different. The houses boast their own peculiar personality compared to other states in this area. You see many churches and steeples. More cows, always cows. We drive between cliffs. They’re severe, brutal, jagged, foreboding. Then it all appears red, like the cliffs of Arizona or New Mexico. Then verdant and rolling fields. Horses chill by the side of the road, no human or house for miles. Most structures I see along this highway: 80? 84? – all of them look new, as if they appeared in 2000, at least around Ogden. Clouds continue to darken our journey.

11:47 AM

It’s crazy to see things like campers, shacks and what appears to be UFOs hidden in the crevices and small valleys of these tan hills. This reminds me of Mesa Verde, the Native American city built into the side of a mountain somewhere out in the southwest. That always blew my mind back in elementary school: this civilization existing in the gaping wound of a mountain. Everything out here is desolate and lonely. Where are the standard natural life forms? Birds, squirrels, snakes, humans, lizards??? It’s probably better this way.

12:19 AM

Lots of snow. We must be reaching the apex of the mountain I ogled earlier. The highway stretches ahead and up into the clouds. Highway to heaven or highway to hell. Does Michael Landon or Bon Scott stand at the other side? (I know, I know, Bon Scott did not appear on that multi-platinum AC/DC record, fuck off). I have to piss of course.

1:25 AM

Do you remember what you did on this exact day nine years ago? I do. April 22, 1995. I was 19-years old. I drove around Red Bank, NJ searching in vain for a hardcore show. This was pre-Google Maps, so I cruised around aimlessly looking for the telltale signs: big pants, thick Tulsai beads, x-ed up hands, headbands around bleached-blonde heads (I myself was guilty of many of those fashion faux-pas). I drove back to the record store near my parents home and purchased two records to make up for missing out on what surely would have been a painfully awful hardcore show: Still Life “Slow Children At Play” 8-inch and the All the President’s Men comp on Old Glory. I hung out with Spoon, dining at Italian Delite at Monmouth Mall. This was our Saturday evening routine. We probably flirted with Debbie, Donna and Laurie. That girl nearly got my brother stomped by local thugs, one of whose members did not approve of my little brother hanging out with their ex.

Then we met up with said brother, Adolfo and Arthur Vance. What mattered most to me was seeing my girlfriend. She’d gone away for a week to Florida with her friends for spring break. I mean, c’mon, spring break? How fucking typical. I should’ve known the relationship was doomed when she even mentioned going.

But she was my first girlfriend and I was smitten. She was 17, a senior in high school, smarter than me, a bit of a hippy. So I was finally going to see her after this vacation. Of course I completely ruined seeing her the previous night. We planned to meet up after band practice. Well, band practice led to eating at the local Denny’s and that led to hours of cavorting. By the time I returned home, I called her. She abandoned me and went out with friends. I called her the following day: she was understandably curt with me. She seemed distant. She didn’t like the name of my new band. All was not well. But I didn’t think much of it.

That night, my friends and I met with her and her friends, too car loads of obnoxious teenagers loudly roaring into parking spots at the Manasquan Inlet. Foolishly, I wore my Earth Crisis long sleeve. I was straight edge, she was not. I don’t know why I wore it- to antagonize her and her friends (something Spoon and I loved to do, us the ignorant militant edgers).

So my girlfriend and I reunite. We hug and she’s limp like a warm corpse. We get back into different cars and cruise over the Dunkin Donuts in Wall on Rt. 35. All of us enter. She grabs my arm and stammers: “We need to talk.” This was the first time hearing this phrase directed at me and would not be the last. I wasn’t aware of its significance at the time, but I did detect that it did not bode well.

We go outside and into her car. “I don’t think this is working,” she muttered. “I don’t think we should be together like this.” Then she laid it on heavy, like dumping a crane load of dirt on me: “I feel numb.” And then the deathblow: “I want to still be friends.” All of this, in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

There then followed a grim time of post-break up despair better left in the thankfully small print run zines I banged out back then. Eventually we would migrate back together and she would break up with me again. Still, nothing compared to the emotional bombardment of that night, April 22, 1995. In retrospect, I have to look back in awe at the tumult of emotions, the violence of heartbreak. Though it was a long time ago, it will not be forgotten. I am tougher, smarter, more resilient now. Or something.

1:57 PM

Wyoming looks like the desert. Superior, Wyoming. Utah looks like mountains. I expected desert in Utah and mountains in Wyoming. Remember that scene in Dog Day Afternoon wherein Al Pacino’s character asks John Cazale’s what country he wants to fly to when they flee their botched bank robbery? Cazale responds: “Wyoming.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


6:25 AM

I know, it’s early. Ask my eyeballs, which feel like someone slashed them with razorblades and soaked them in rubbing alcohol. We left the hotel bright and early to get a leg on this drive to Denver. Yes, that’s Boise, ID to Denver, CO. Around 830 miles, nearly a third of the way across these great United States. Let us not forget that we lose an hour during the journey.

Boise seemed as drab as one might expect of a city in the state of Idaho. But perhaps that is an overly harsh, generalized statement from a dude raised within a six-hour drive of New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Baltimore and New Brunswick (the envy-worth of that last one is arguable). The show was decent. 40-50 kids, typical technical difficulties, small stage we did not use, much to the consternation of the drug-addled looking sound guy (is there really any other kind?). The kids were quite appreciative of us coming out here. I mean, it’s Boise, ID. Not exactly the cultural hotbed of Western Civilization.

Whenever I find myself in these places, I ponder what it must be like to live in them. I grew up at the Jersey shore nearly a spitting distance from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 miles from NYC. Southern California thus far comes as close to my homeland as anywhere we’ve been, and SoCal is on an entirely different existential trip. This is America. Most of it is pick-up trucks, southern accents, chain stores, beef jerky, religious emblems and American flags. This, as Josh commented, is why George W. Bush is president.

7:07 AM

In other news, our show in Cleveland, OH on May 2 fell through. Allegedly, the kids doing the show neglected to pay a deposit to reserve the space. Of course said kid also failed to notify us that the show was cancelled. Someone else from the area posted this information on a messageboard. Someone else might be able to set up a show. This is DIY hardcore. We will track down Jason, the offender, and deal with him summarily, harshly, Jersey-style.

Also, Matt cracked me in the dome-piece last night with his bass. I thought it was Billy striking me with the mic. Upon impact, everything flashed for a second. This morning there’s only a small bump on my forehead, not much larger than a nasty pimple. That makes two whacks to the head and one to the jaw, in addition to a bevy of bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes all across my arms, elbows, legs, knees and hips. I used to judge the quality of a set on how damaged I was the next morning. As John McClain would say, I’m getting too old for this shit.

7:16 AM
As indicated earlier, eating has been difficult. These long drives limit time and availability for decent sustenance. For me it’s doubly hard. I need a grocery store. I’m ready to ravage a head of lettuce. I’d eat a block of tofu whole, unseasoned and raw. Maybe Denver will be an oasis of fine vegetarian/vegan dining in a desert of Carl’s Jr. Jr. and Mickey Ds.

7:43 AM

It’s sunk to the point where Minute Maid orange juice “from concentrate” tastes refreshing, as if I just pulled the fruit off the branch and squeezed it into this plastic bottle. That, my friends, is a commentary on the beverage selection in this desolate nowhere we now inhabit. Indeed, you think about food a great deal during these long drives with nary a nutritious meal in sight. Sometimes a vast bowl of salad hovers along the horizon- but it’s just a desert mirage. How sweet those thick, dark leafy greens drenched in roasted red pepper dressing would taste right now. I can feel the fibers of the leaves crunching to green mush in my mouth. It’s been 27 days on the road.

7:53 AM

We were met with extreme signs of poverty when we rolled in Idaho. Outside one house stood a makeshift sign announcing “Chuckleberries For Sale.” What the hell is a chuckleberry??? Is this a regional delicacy like boiled peanuts? What’s up with boiled peanuts anyway??? Perhaps a chuckleberry is a mutant, Frankenstein concoction by a bored, hard-working self-starter. Maybe genetic modification has reached the DIY level out here in Idaho.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


10:22 AM

Gloomy outside and I can barely keep my eyes open. I slept OK; maybe I’m getting sick. I certainly have not eaten well. We’re on our way to Boise, ID, so I expect the food selection to worsen. Last night’s show was alright, despite ordinary DIY touring snafus. The show went down at UC Davis. It took us an hour to find the actual place where the show location on campus thanks to terrible directions. When we finally located the space, we saw that it was in some kind of student activities center, specifically in a glass-enclosed cafeteria. Turned out, the show was free and three touring bands would split the $250 check, a check that would me mailed to us. I ate a sandwich at a crunchy hippy café. It had mayo smeared all over it, the un-vegan kind, though the menu said it was vegan. So much for that.

We reunited with our friends’ band and met Chris. Chris is a real character. He was gracious enough to let us all crash at his apartment (eight dudes). We piled into the living room and watched bad TV. We sat mesmerized by some bizarre public access low-fi horror flick. Chris kept issuing proclamations as if they were Buddhist koans: “I love Mastodon. If you don’t love Mastodon get outta my house.” “I love basketball. If you don’t love basketball, get outta my house.” Later on, he said, “You guys have a lot of energy. I like that. You feel that vibe when you play. I like your energy.” At some point, Eric went for a smoke. He dislodged something essential to the closing of the door, at which point Chris burst out: “You broke my door. Anyone who breaks my door, get outta my house.” I fell asleep pressed against the wall and halfway under an end table, a stereo centimeters from my face.

(It should here be noted, for the sake of Chris’ character development, that years later he would relay to the owner of a Philadelphia-based music distribution center: “I’m drunk. I’m high. I’m looking at porn on the internet. I’m eating cheese doodles. My dick is orange.”)

10:36 AM

Snow envelopes us. We’re driving up some mountain north of Sacramento on 80 towards Reno. The fog obscures whatever lay beyond these trees lining the highway like nature’s fence. I drove yesterday through ungodly mountain passes. I’m sure Rollins would handle all of this with aplomb. Billy brought Get In the Van, so we’ve made many comments and jokes in reference to Rollins’ travails (his self-proclaimed ‘alonity’). I need to eat more than Clif bars. I crave nutritious foodstuffs.

2:07 PM
Leaving Pucker Brush, NV, population 28. I can’t believe I look forward to Subway. That was a weird rest stop. We entered the joint with it sunny and warm. We left with wind, rain and face-smacking blowing sand. This environment is insane: desert, snow-capped mountains, painted cliffs, a weird emerald ravine and droves of roaming cows. Nevada. Subway seems to have rocked my stomach, as it feels like Assuck is playing a show in it. This is likely due to me not eating anything substantial in days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


9:25 AM

Early, yeah. It doesn’t matter if it’s 7:00 AM or 1:00 PM, I can never seem to pull myself out of sleep. I’m probably not drinking enough water. Or eating enough. So it goes. The rain hammers hard against the van as we drive through Oregon.

Last time we rolled through here, someone thought it a wise idea to book a show in Seattle the day after a show at Gilman. That’s over 800 miles, a trek that mapquest tells us should take between 12 and 13 hours. To guarantee on-time arrival, we drove through the night. Now I don’t know about other bands, maybe they’re made of more durable, rugged fibers. But all of us were train wrecks by the time we reached Seattle.

We took shifts driving. Josh and I did the midnight to 6 AM portion. I sat with nerves frayed as we narrowly averted disaster at every turn up the black winding highways of northern California into southern Oregon. It was mountainous, treacherous terrain, with hulking logging trucks racing by us as if we were an old woman with a walker. How we survived I do not know. Perhaps it was listening to hometown boy Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on repeat, preceded by multiple listenings of Three Mile Pilot’s mesmerizing Another Desert, Another Sea. Because of that experience we vowed to never again drive overnight.

This time we make that path back south in broad (albeit rain soaked) daylight. The show in Seattle last night was a welcome respite from the glut of lackluster ones. We spent the day in that wet, gloomy city. As soon as we entered its border, it began to rain. I walked around for a long time alone, which was refreshing. You need room to breathe, to think sometimes. I noticed hordes of panhandlers. I bought a magazine and ate falafel-, which the girl did not charge me for. Did she forget? Am I that cute? Who knows, I saved $5.

As for the show, I was apprehensive to return given news Billy imparted upon me prior to my arrival back at First Avenue Pizza. Allegedly, a girl took the bus from Spokane to Seattle, just to meet yours truly. Apparently she was a fan of my zines. I concede that it is flattering to hear that someone found some worth in my creative pursuits. And I conveyed as loudly as many other zinesters during the 90s that the whole intention was to communicate, to engage in dialogue, to construct a personal dialectic that could perhaps make us better people and potentially change the world. Or something. Those were heady, idealistic times. I feel sad for the kids of today who completely missed that phenomenon, since the internet is a piss-poor proxy.

The problem with this scenario is that I am not a social butterfly. When it comes to interacting with someone who only knows me via a zine or a band, I feel like I have to live up to a persona that doesn’t exist, or I am not comfortable to let exist to a complete stranger. Needless to say, I took my sweet time in the drenching rain making my way back to the show.

Upon returning, I was told that the opening band did not bring most of their equipment. They evidently live just outside Seattle in the burbs. C’mon, common sense- bring your gear! Don’t rely on bands who’ve driven across the entire country to supply it. Our gear has already taken a serious beating on the way to your town, and it has to last us the whole cross-country drive of shows home.

I saw Josh. He told me a prostitute accosted him in the parking lot. He relayed the brief encounter, “She said, ‘I’ll suck yo’ dick fo’ six dollas and twenty fi’ cent.’” He shrewdly declined the offer.

I entered First Avenue Pizza. As soon as Greg saw me, he approached, grinning: “Dude, have you met her yet?” He loved having something to goad me with, since I always keep quiet and don’t let much out in the open. During the show, he would commence yelling my name, “Here he is!” I had to chuckle, though I was in no mood for laughs.

We played and had fun. A lot of kids showed up wearing costumes for some reason. They danced and sang along and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, for a change. As soon we finished, the girl introduced herself. She said that she loved my zine. Turns out, the zine she referred to was from seven years ago. As if anything I scribbled when I was 21 has any bearing on me at 28. Well…who am I kidding, I am not much different. She seemed like a nice enough person, and after a few scant minutes of discussion, we were off to our next location.

We drove a half hour outside the city and stayed at another hotel (since lodging is much cheaper beyond metropolitan city limits). I slept on a bed this time. I am quite content with the floor. Give me a six by three feet swath of good, carpeted floor and I will sleep soundly.

10:30 AM

Just finished reading interviews with Ian MacKaye and Q and Not U. Inspiring. Inspiring to me in my quest to operate bands in non-traditional and uncompromising ways. But I understand why bands choose to use the tools of the rock biz. I see those reasons everyday on this tour. Bands existing at our level get just as fucked as any major label band, if not more so. Some show promoters feel the need to do as frighteningly little as possible: no flyers, a crappy or no PA, putting every one of their friends bands on the bill so someone like us finally play after six hours of unendurable music for a total of 10 minutes since the place needs to shut down due to the late hour. These circumstances reoccur with dependable frequency on this entire tour. It should come as no surprise that bands see that hope of a better way, of solidly booked tours by music professionals, of guarantees and food, of maybe, just maybe, receiving some paltry financial reward for the time and the effort.

I love playing non-rock club spaces. But I also love being able to sing through a functioning microphone. The only times we have been fed on this tour have been by promoters at more traditional rock venues, with the exception of Daniel in L.A. Still, I want to find that middle ground. Though rare and fleeting, I’ve experienced tiny moments when this is something special, particularly in Oakland and last night. Small spaces of time when every element clicks. Again, they are uncommon moments. They are ideal types and they are hardly detectable. But when they occur- when they decide to grace us with their presence- all of this just might seem worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


10:31 AM

It’s been rough. The past two shows have been sub-par. We played on this arena-sized stage in Portland. I hated it. I just stood there. As soon as we finished, I packed up my equipment and fled the scene. I walked around the bizarre factory area, desolate and lonely. Fittingly it began to gently rain.

I settled in front of a café a block away from the venue, the only other sign of life in the area. A bluegrass band plugged away inside. The musicians looked in their 40s or 50s. They wore wide smiles. The two dozen people inside clapped after every song. The scene laughed at me, stuck up its middle finger at me, aired its hairy naked ass at me. It was the perfect polar opposite to everything I felt. I wanted to quit, to go away, to crawl into the back of a trailer like Rollins and not see anyone the entire 3,000 miles to New Jersey.

When I finally wandered back to the show I stood and watched the last band. They were actually good. What they played certainly wasn’t the most innovative sound, but they were passionate. I watched wearing my sweatshirt pulled tight over my head, hoping no one would notice me. I wanted to be invisible, just another body. But a girl passed by and said, “Great show.” I looked at her, stunned. I responded, hesitantly, “Thank you.” I talked with her for a few more minutes. She looked the part of a bike punk in an indie film. It struck me as odd since most bike punks do not like my band. We tend to appeal more to kids with dyed black hair wearing Every Time I Die T-shirts. “You know, you guys should be playing this basement in Portland.” She went on to sing the praises of said basement, that most kids would prefer to experience us there and not in this venue. Given the sheer girth of the place and the cruel lack of kids, I had to concur. Somehow I started asking about Portland, about how she liked it, about vegetarian restaurants. I enjoyed having an actual conversation. But soon the band packed up and departed.

I should mention the LGS episode. They went on and did their thing, which of course involved Alexander doing his thing. He pulled a kid from the audience up on stage. Said kid donned fishnets and a sleeveless black shirt. He looked thoroughly confused. He tried to jump off the stage, but Alexander wouldn’t let him. The kid asked for earplugs. The band tore into the next song. Later we were told the kid was “slow” and “mentally challenged.”

Next day found us in Bellingham, WA. It seemed quite a bohemian town, very clean and very green. We ate at Bandito Burrito, which featured a heavy anarchist motif. The food was great. The show was ho-hum. We crammed into a musty basement. 30 kids stood and yawned.

The most amusing part of the night was Jamie riling up a member of my band. My band associate made some claims about him being the least high maintenance guy on the tour, to which Jamie burst out: “YOU are the most high maintenance guy here!” “No way, you are wrong.” A game of yes-you-are, no-I’m-not ensued.

Otherwise, I yearned to wander around, but there wasn’t a whole lot to wander around in that residential neighborhood. We hit the road after the show for Seattle. This is tour, soaring highs and crippling lows and a whole lot of the mundane in between. What choice do I have? I’m thousands of miles away from home. I hate my job. I don’t want to go back to school. No answers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


1:48 PM

I’m gazing out upon the mountains of northern California or southern Oregon. Last night was a much needed kick ass show. Santa Cruz was an atomic bomb of a disaster and Goleta was forgettable. My girlfriend made a surprise visit from the east coast. She showed up in Santa Cruz. I had no idea she arranged this, apparently quite meticulously with everyone behind my back. We left that show with Jamie, his wife Heather and a guy named Mike. They left us in Berkeley.

My girlfriend rented a room at a hotel on Durant, just up from Telegraph. The room left much to be desired. It was narrow and claustrophobic. The shower sprayed water in a wide circumference that managed to almost entirely miss the body beneath it. When I opened the curtains, I found a panoramic view of a brick wall with a bear painted on it. The next morning we happened upon a cozy (though more expensive) bed and breakfast down the street.

Wandering the streets of Berkeley brought back past illusions of wanting to go to grad school to study Political Science. Yeah, as if I could have gotten into a school that is routinely ranked in the top five.

Jamie and Heather retrieved us later that day. We hit up a bookstore before the show. I made the mistake of reading one of those household medical books, in particular the entry on Lyme’s disease. Let’s see, soar neck? Yes. Cough? Yes. Irritation at the tick bite? Yes. I am fucked. Less than three weeks left of tour. Last night was Gilman. Always a fun time. Went to sleep at 3 and woke up at 6. My girlfriend flew home and the band got me. That leaves us back on the road en route to Portland. I enjoy the Bay Area, actually California from there south is all cool to me. But the good times are behind us. 340 miles to Portland.

5:56 PM

I just devoured left over seitan like a savage. The spicy juices dribbled in thick, brown gobs down my chin and fingers. I tore at it like a lion just upon an impala. My body craved a quick protein fix. Touring reduces you to the primal basics. Your concerns are eating, sleeping, shitting, showering and of course, rocking. Josh was right: after the first week and a half, everything begins to fall into place. The cavalcade of pain begins to subside, the appetite disintegrates and sleep upon a steel floor suddenly feels like a tempurepedic mattress. I’ve never been gone this long and I am not homesick. Despite sporadic and reliable bouts of despair, I love this. Shit shows and weird moods threaten to subvert it all, but when I evaluate the forest and not just the trees, I see what makes me happy, excited, alive. Sitting at home chained to a routine, a job, a schedule robs me of joy. I rot there.

I don’t know how long I can hang on to my job. We’re planning a ten-day tour of Canada in July, a six-week tour of Europe in the fall, a two-week tour in November and another with our friends Transistor Transistor in December. That leaves barely three months of wage slavery for the rest of the year. Too bad the band won’t pay the bills. And kids call us sellouts? Hee-haw hee-haw.


12:11 PM

We drive along the Pacific once more and I’m looking at hulking oil tankers off in the ocean misty distance.

Last night Josh, Greg and I hung out for a while at the beach. I couldn’t stop looking up and losing myself in the gorgeous celestial emptiness of the sky and the stars. The college kids of Isla Vista don’t see the beauty of this place. This is college? Try living in the burnt out soul-smashing, university/company town of New Brunswick, NJ, where drunk townies (not the four-year mommy-and-daddy subsidized drifters) collapse on your stoop with nary a warning. That is college, with squalid street winters of gray slush in housing built 100 years ago when heat was a word relegated to a fireplace and wool sweaters.

After the show last night (in the Biko house garage), we retired briefly to Alex’s co-op house. Last time he was gracious enough to let us crash there, though he left. Guy offered us free reign of his belongings and demanded I sleep in his bed. I recall sweetly slipping into unconsciousness sore and almost broken as the sounds of the Pacific crashed a mere two blocks away.

This time Alex brought us to a mad college party. Hundreds of drunk frat and sorority types spilled out of the house and all over the yard. We just stood there and watched with mouths agape. One of Alex’s housemates explained that what we witnessed was a “Pimp and Ho” party, hence the lurid outfits. I saw one beefsteak Charlie looking behemoth wearing a bow tie sans shirt. Stumbling jocks wielding plastic cups of frothy piss-colored beer struggled valiantly to woo drunken make-up queens. Terrible, nerve-wracking scene. We retreated to the beach and then back to Alex’s. Eric made out with a girl from the show. The next morning a female employee of the Starbuck’s across the street from the burrito place asked for his number. Tonight we play Santa Cruz at a college. Maybe we’ll attend another Pimp and Ho party.

4:07 PM

Somehow The Beatles are dragging me out of my bad mood. Too much to think about and dwell upon on these long drives, as if I’m fingering a cavity-ridden tooth or pulling at the scab on an open wound.

For some reason I feel the need to make zines again. It’s not as if I hadn’t had fleeting bursts of desire to do so in the past few years. It’s always been the hurdle of funding and means of photocopying. I skimmed through a zine someone left with us somewhere and it is terrible. It reminds me of my disillusion with the anarcho-punk sect I once tried to ingratiate myself with. Despite some sense of feeling aligned with the cause, it was the tactics and the culture that rubbed me wrong. I realized that the “movement” was dominated by a groupthink mentality. Everyone looked the same, they acted the same, they talked the same. It’s no different with the scene I see at our shows. We’re all sheep marching to slaughter. I don’t fit anywhere. I like it that way. That isn’t to say I am nihilist who doesn’t believe in movements working together towards change or towards something. I want to be myself.

I’m craving a mentally nourishing political tome. Too many of such books are dull as a math class at 7 in the morning (I suffered through one, I know). That’s why I loved some of the books I plowed through before embarking on this tour. Rogue State by William Blum, Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast…damn, only two. I need to do more, I need to be more. That’s enough whining for now. Farms and hills pass by. I don’t know where we are. Road signs announce Salinas, San Francisco and we need to reach Santa Cruz. 21 shows to go.

4:20 PM
Matt bought Bass Player Magazine at the Barnes and Noble in San Luis Obispo. Gracing the cover was Ben, a guy I was friends with ten years ago. His band often played with mine at all ages club shows at the Jersey shore. I envied his immeasurable talent. He had the best of all worlds: expert guitarist finesse, multi-dimensional vocal ability, not to mention enough charisma to win over every girl (or guy) in the joint. I remember one cold December night after a show at the Surf Club in Ortley Beach, a crew of us hunkered down at a sticky table at the OB Diner in Point Pleasant (home of Kirsten Dunst for those keeping score at home). During a discussion on the deluge of straight edge and vegan kids at our shows, he coolly remarked, “Look, I’m wearing a leather belt. I don’t care about that. I smoke cigarettes. I’m eating this cheeseburger. All I care about is my guitar, my bands, music.” What he said made sense for him. There he is, looking not much different than he did in 1994, on the cover of a magazine, doing exactly what he said he would do. I was 18 then. I obsessed over hardcore, DIY, punk. The notion of devoting myself to music was entirely foreign. More precisely, it was anathema to everything I believed in. You were not supposed to live off of music, that was the rule. I was a freshman in college, I planned…shit, time to look at directions, I will continue this rant later…

Monday, January 14, 2008


10:22 AM

The sun shines as usual as we leave L.A. This has been our home. We stayed the last two nights at Ray’s house in Huntington Beach. Nice place, nice area. Hanging out with Ray is always a blast. Our show last night was in this dodgy area of L.A. by skid row. There were no indications outside the venue that it was a venue. We parked the vans in the back and watched twitching, growling homeless guys watch us. One of them was paid by the venue to guard the band’s vans (though he asked us for payment directly).

I thought it strange how we sat in the middle of downtown, yet once night fell, the streets transformed into a shanty town of begging, howling, braying vagrants and cardboard box tent tenement cities. I couldn’t comprehend how the LAPD allowed this civilization of the homeless to erect their shoddy edifices, given that the police of the northeast cities would surely batter down such transient domiciles. I don’t imagine the LAPD being more compassionate.

I enjoyed the show. A lot of kids danced and sang along. During LGS’ set, Jamie threw his guitar. Apparently it’s given him constant grief. I watched as the instrument soared far up into the air and sailed in an arc into the blackness at the back of the venue. He strapped on another guitar before the first met its demise on the floor.

I finally washed my clothes at Ray’s, staying up until 4 or so in the AM. We watched Chappelle show DVDs in the morn and then embarked for Santa Barbara, ahhhhhh, utopian Santa Barbara. 19 shows down, 21 to go.

2:42 PM

Sometimes I do this thing where I ask myself: if I could be anywhere in the world right now, where would I be? If I could do anything right now, what would I do? At the moment, I want to be right here doing this: driving up the Pacific Coast to play another show in California. I am content. In a week we will be driving back east, through the dreary, soul-crushing Midwest. The good times never last.

3:51 PM

We’re driving up 101 and I’m thinking how amazing it is here. We all seem to loathe where we’re from. Grass is greener on the other side, in another place. If I grew up outside San Diego or Santa Barbara, I’d probably have plenty to complain about and perhaps yearn to flee for the east coast, New York City maybe. I think I enjoy living in Philadelphia, but maybe not. I don’t go out. I have no urge to live it up and be social. It’s all work, band and girlfriend. That is fine. And I love right now. Traveling and performing. That is a temporary optimism. I have no desire to return to my job. I feel sick and suffocated having to work the routine job. Would I just play music if it’d pay the bills? Sometimes I say yes, other times no. My girlfriend wouldn’t want me spending half the year away. Would I? When we return to the backwards/backwoods towns of middle America, I will be pining for home.


2:53 PM

Back in gorgeous Los Angeles. I never thought I’d develop any sort of affinity for this city, but go to Bakersfield. Any large metropolitan region suddenly becomes nirvana in comparison. Last night was indeed a fiasco. We played inside the boxing ring. Yes, within the ropes and turnbuckles. A bunch of kids hopped inside and went crazy. They crashed into each other, fell into us, did flips and acted out their bored, drunk teenage wrestling/boxing fantasies. It is something, to see children raised on backyard wrestling videos and pay-per view boxing matches attempt to become their icons in reality. We were the soundtrack to their melee. Here we are now, entertain us.

One poor soul made the mistake of leaping from Greg’s bass drum. Greg throws his sticks down mid-song, stands up slowly and surely, and hisses, pointing, “Don’t you ever jump off my fucking drum set!” It was an astounding moment, as if a god came down from on high to scold us mere mortals. Everyone responded by shutting up and SITTING DOWN. They cowered before the mighty Drudy. It wasn’t until I, of all people, said they could do whatever they wanted, as long as they laid off the drums, that the kids resumed their raucous behavior.

Afterwards a fight occurred outside. Racial slurs were thrown about. One kid ran after another with a plastic rooster. As we aimed our vans out of the dusty, pebble-strewn parking lot, the melee hindered our exit. Someone asked the heated boys ready to fight, “Hey, can we get through?” One responded, “Oh yeah, go ahead.” They quieted, let us drive past, and then continued shouting. We fled for the peace and serenity of L.A.