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 clichĂ© 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 cafĂ© 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.