Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pennsylvania

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?

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