danny - gigboss for la roca show
paul roessler - organ, singing
raul morales - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
uri - helperman for spain
(left to right, photo by martha)
dutch dude calros - the man outside the van
sunday, april 24, 2005 - rome, italy
we are in rome at the zoo bar. we are all writing the diaries and everyone of us is playing the mantra... om namo narayani... delays in the space around us... beautifull
we are very tired... we have slept 11 hours in two days...
also this morning we went to visit the city.
paul, rawl and me wake up at 7 (very noisy room with no window)... we tooked the bus for the center florence and visited the duomo, piazza della signoria and ponte vecchio.
i'm glad paul can see the duomo... it was an intense desire.
Rawl has an amazing energy... he is really a drummer... he is always moving and taking a lot of picture of a lot of particulars around... and funny joke too... he takes photos of tourists in front of monuments with me coming from a side of the camera like an intruder...
at 10 we started for rome... quite early to avoid the traffic in rome... today the new pope benedetto xvi got his first messa in vaticano and so rome is full of people. we don't want to be stop in the traffic for hours... long conversation with mike... wrestling, kayak, padlling, dante, bands, america and italy... i like listening to him... super... sometimes i would like to fall asleep... i still continue to miss a lot of words... and when we arrived on the ring of rome i got the wrong direction... i've got to practise with maps and directions...
we arrived at 3 in the afternoon...paul and rawl were still thirsty to visit and see around...
i was very tired but i wanted to go with them.
we went to colosseo, foro romano and the circo massimo... a lot of tourists around... at a certain moment i was very confused... like in a dream... like i was walking and sleeping at the same time... and it's interesting seeing, when happens like that, how some of the autocontrolled parts of the mind changed into somethingelse... different impressions of the things around happen...
we went back... and i met carlos... he seems to be a really kind person...
mikes has changed his strings on standing position... his eb gibson is amazing... i just touched the neck pluging a string... you can feel very precise vibrations go throw the neck.
last show for me tonight... yesterday i think has been the best of these four days.
i'm sad cause tomorrow i will come back to bologna and i have to say hello to this very nice guys... as mike says: "much respect" to all of them. thank you.
from dutch dude carlos:
I arrive in Rome together with hundreds of believers. With their cell phones the priests look like managers with funny dresses.
Pietro (moustache is back again) picks me up from the trainstation, we go to a nice restaurant around the corner from the hotel. The tuna is delicious. The hotel is fake old, fake modern, fake luxurious, fake ****, designed by someone who never was a guest. Sorry, the people behind the desk are very nice.
Sunday I take a long walk, jump on a bus, i go to many places, this is a great beautiful town.
The city is in the grips of the final chapter of the old/new pope event. I see hundreds of policemen standing around waiting for events (not) to come. Helicopters and loud motorcades make it look like a gigantic theatre piece. Policemen standing up on their motorbike, speeding through the streets of Rome, must be a real thrill.
From a hill I look at the vatican from distance where the pope is inaugurated, many many tourists and pilgrims flowing through the streets. Last time I walked here my family was with me, I miss them. I see a fountain Stella and Susan played in, really fond memories.
Hundreds of priests are driven around in grey buses and wave to the crowds. I'm surprised by how young some of them are.
A taxi brings me to the Zoo Bar, it's in a deserted corner of Rome. Mike is sitting in the van doing his writing, great to see him. Talk, talking story stories. It gets my head spinning. Religion and politics, history, family. I think his US perspective is different from mine. Two beautiful gypsie like ladies and a child show up asking for money. They only speak Italian, they are very persistent, their eyes have this strange cold, sad look. After Mike gave them generously it only get's more intense. The eldest woman offers him a little stone which will bring him luck for more money. They never smile it's all very cold and powerful.
Paul and Raul show up and talk abouth the great walks they had made that day both in Florence and in Rome. Italy must be a trip for them. Watt has a great hand for picking people to play with him. Many years ago I spend a day with Kira in Goes, she told me about about going to a Dutch school as a kit. Paul also still knows some Nederlands, he still has the sound right.
I spend part of the evening at Pietro's appartment where we watch Juventus-AC Roma, it is very boring game, Juve wins: 1-0, Pietro is happy.
The Secondmen start late, I'm tired I don't like the song as much as in Rotterdam. The venue turns into a crazy 80s new wave disco immediately after Watt and Coltrane have finished. Now it's New Order and Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams" at an extreme high volume, it feels like we are walking into a bitter nightmare, the parking lot turned into an inferno. After some intense moments we all escape, no one and nothing left behind.
Since today is the first mass of the new pope, we make plans to leave three hours earlier than we should, a little more time in case we hit massive amounts of traffic. We don't really know what to expect, but better early than stuck between cars for days. Paul really wants to go to the duomo, so i wake up early, and take the 14 bus with him and stefano right to it. Quick trip, fifteen minutes, we could of found it on foot, but there were so many twists, it could've been a nightmare finding our way back. Duomo is pretty unexplainable, at least for me. It's something you gotta see with your own eyes. Just thinking about the work that went into the building makes me dizzy, the detail is just outrageous, twelve or so larger than life statues along the top, thousands of little and not so little carvings, and it's all done by hands... it's the biggest piece of art i've ever seen, it's also closed. We do see a few people coming in and out, so the doors actually open, but it's just for sunday mass. Stefano talks to a guard, tells them our situation,the dude lets us in, very unlike any guard i've ever met, and real lucky for us. The inside is as equally amazing as the work on the outside. The painting in the actual dome is done by angelo i believe. It starts of with the bottom being total hell, all these devils, and skeletons, dying women and children trapped in purgatory. An image, of an older man being surrounded by horned monsters, he had one hand reaching towards the gods, and another holding an hour glass, like he was waiting for eternity to get out of hell, pretty heavy implications in this painting. It went on in levels, i'm not sure what the levels represented, inlightment, stages of an afterlife, or stages of a heaven, maybe all these things. But at the top level it was seven bearded men looking down on all this... maybe apostles, i don't know, i'm not too hip to a religion of any kind, but regardless of my knowledge, it was an amazing work of art. Another thing i noticed was an enormous crack going up the side of the dome, it looked like it might split in two at any moment. Stefano also had some places to go that he thought we might be into, after that, back on the bus then on our way to rome.
The ring around rome is hugh, or loop, i'm used to calling it the belt, but everywhere's different, so in rome it's the ring. We spend about a half an hour going the wrong direction, we missed our exit, and just kept going like we knew where we were going, all lies. fInally Stefan notices this, and lets us know it might be a better idea to turn around. It is a belt, and circles always come back around to themselves, so we think about just riding it out, but like i said, it's hugh, so we just turn around, and try to find the right way. At last, after one other stop to ask for directions, we've found the exit we need. Damn, alot of the apartments off the freeway look like they were put up in an after noon, with function at the forefront, not to much style involved, real tall tenements,like projects on the east coast. Were i live, in pedro, or even l.a, all the projects are one or two stories, but still the same, more function than style. Probably just so many people livin' in the city, that they gotta put em' somewhere. As soon as we get to the club, the personal roaming starts. Actually we have a destination, paul and i really wanna see the coliseum. It's already been along day, florence all mourning, and now miles around rome, The coliseum is packed full of tourist, the most i've seen all tour. It's sorta stymie, i don't wanna be around tons of people, but i'm there doing the exact same thing they are, gawking at some old ruins, so i can't hold it against anything, just be one in the crowd. Next to the coliseum is a garden of ruins, it looks like some were even brought here for display, but i'm not sure. It's double stalked with gawkers. We made stefano come along, even though he'd seen most this stuff before, i think he was beat from early mourning walks thru florence, plus he had to stay alert and direct on the way to rome, i just buried my head in a book, he was a trooper, especially to keep up with me, trying to do ten things at once. We're about a mile from the club, and we only gave our selves fifteen minutes to make it to sound check, we made it right on the dot. Lucky too, cuz a rain started comin' down real quick.
Playing inside a tent tonight, it's really weird, and i'm kinda just waitin' for the rain to start comin' thru. It seems like it takes forever for these guys to set up, what's that all about, it seemed like they were working against each other. Finally they're ready, it's kinda funny, all the monitors patched different, and everybody has everybodys elses monitor, a hear cymbals, that's it. After check the boss takes some of us out to get some grub. One of the sound guys is also with us, he tells me that he's never worked here before, the two of em' just rented out the space for a night, and they don't know any of the other guys there, that's what all the weirdness was about, now things are making sense. Food of course was great, the best sea food. We got some of the best sea food in pedro too, but italy does hold a candle. I hadn't eaten since the night before in florence, so i grubbed a hugh avocado salad, some pizza, with something called buffalo mozzarella, and some sea food pasta... just asking for the gut bomb. It was great, total fuel for the body. I've been moving all day, i needed to gas up. Instead of taking the car back with everybody else, i walked the five blocks back to the gig. Speaking of fuel, on the walk to the restaurant, i noticed something i thought weird. With the driving being so crazy in rome, it's a wonder why they have gas stations right on the side walk. I'm not talking like we have, thirty feet off the street, the pumps are right there on the street. A car can pull over a foot, and fuel up. Seems like a disaster waitin' to happen if you ask me.
Earlier i seen this dude hangin' out by the club, he looks just like keith richard wanna be, and sure as shit, i can hear a stones cover band playin' as i walk up. That's such a odd thing, tribute bands. Doing some covers is a whole different thing, but basing your existence on somebody elses is strange to me. I wonder if that guy, every once in a while really believed he was a rolling stone, did he go grocery shopping like that, did people think they were seeing keith richard doing his laundry... strange. Unlike what i thought earlier, the show is packed. There's like fifty bars in this plaza, so my guess was people just going back and forth, without any focus besides drinking and screwing... it was like hermosa beach, or any late night beach scene, it looked like lots of rich kids. Allot of these folks were here for the show. Some local badasses opened the gig... squaretet. All these dudes had to be so studied in music, amazing musicians. They were in the schlong, no means no kinda vein. Jenny, a german girl who books there gigs, said they're part of this scene they called jazz core, and italy is full of these bands. Minutemen influence italy twenty five years later. Really good guys too, i'd talk to them earlier over a problem the sound guys had, they either wanted marco to use the drums set up, or play in front of it or some shit. Either these sounds guys are lazy, or just used to cover bands or something... actually i shouldn't call em. lazy, that's harsh, it's just not a thing they're used to. That's what happens at gigs, different bands, different gear. Regardless, i'd be a total ass if i left the kit up there, or made someone else use it. I mean, marco had his drums, might as well use whats comfortable, it was explained in a way that all understood, and everything was right. Anyway, these dudes had a crazy take on music, beyond my comprehension.
To me, squaretet sounded all right, but for me it was so hard to hear on stage, i think the monitors were still backwards. I'd find it better, if there wasn't any at all, It be more like what i'm used to, which is practicing up at the gate, or just playin' in a house, the only thing with mics is the p.a. I know some might say it sounds like shit, but sometimes so do sound systems. Ya i know, it's geared for a smaller space. It's like some folks are tryin' to mix one kind of sound fits all sorta thing. Energetic crowd though, so maybe it was alright, just all in the head. As soon as the last note was was hit, disco started. Total eighties, is that revival hugh everywhere, i thought is was just wasting away los angeles. Maybe it's a trying to relive a youth thing, but wasn't eighties pop different in italy, so far, all signs point to no.
Trying to get out was a nightmare, and it wasn't mine, it was watts. We were totally stuck behind a hundred cars, it seemed like there was nothing to do. The equipment was still in the club, a disco was going on right around it, and there were hundreds of people everywhere. Plowed thru a herd of neo gothics, saved the gear, and shoved it in the boat, watt stayed behind the wheel and finally saw window to creep thru, which turned into another nightmare that you can read about from the source. Nobody was with him, i was still out front with carlos, we had men inside, and i didn't wanna lose em'. Paul comes out, and we all start heading the direction the van went, and realize that stefano is still in the shit. Paul decides that he should go back for the rescue, and carlos and i should forge on in search of homebase. Ofcourse we hastily go in the wrong direction, walking around a few blocks,trying to figure out what do, Paul pops up, no stefano, what's the smart thing to do... retrace our steps, and eventually find watt, and the van with stefano inside.
I wake up after four and a half hours wide awake. I check the clock and still have a half hour to sleep, so I roll over and go in and out, checking my watch every five or ten minutes. At five to 7 I get up, check myself for mad feelings, find none, shave and head down to breakfast.
I have some cereal and coffee although I don't really even feel like I need the coffee. This is called being excited. I'm really not expecting those guys to make it, and I'm seriously not going to try to make it myself. And then I see Stephano coming out of the elevator.
I am so moved, not just because I'm happy to go to the Duomo, but because it's such a gesture of friendship. I know he felt really worked when he went to bed and I used Jim's old line on him :"No one ever died from lack of sleep" which I always thought was so fucked to say to an exhausted person. But here he is, and we're getting ready to go when Raul appears too. He had fallen back asleep, but he was his usual off-the-charts-positive self, and we hit the bus, me just amazed that these guys were going with me.
It seems like a pretty long busride just because we're in a totally foreign city winding around the old streets but it's probably only 10 or 15 minutes. Then this vision appears.
The Duomo TOWERS, and it's not dark and gloomy like some of the gothic cathedrals I've seen. It is made of red and green and white marble in a way that I can only describe as checkerboard. It is ornate, but everything about it screams: "I AM HERE!!!" It is not a polite church. It is a mad celebration of the power of humans busy playing in the universe. Stephano has been here, probably many times, but Raul and my mouths drop open. I walk around towards the front and feel the tears pouring down my face. I feel them now as I write this. It is indescribable.
I know nothing about it, who made it, when, what. You should find out though, because in lieu of seeing it in person, that information of how something like that can come into being would be a key to mysteries.
Stephano reads the sign on the side, and is crestfallen to tell me that it has services to 1:30 and we can't go in. I totally accept it without a second thought, I'm so charged. But as we come around the side, I see people coming out of the services, and I say to Stephano: "Maybe we can go in." So he speaks to the guard in Italian, and he motions us in. How cool, lucky, charmed is that?
I have been in cathedrals so I have some idea, but it's sweet to watch Raul enter the enormous space. The dome itself is painted in this unbelievable Sistine Chapel type style, Stephano says it's Michaelangelo, I don't know if it is but it's impossible, the whole thing. I start looking for the Magdelene wandering around and my eyes are tearing and my chest is tight and I feel wrapped in sublime light and love and suddenly I realize that this feeling of ecstacy is very, very,very close to the feelings of depression that I have been having. The feeling of wanting to cry, the feeling of being enveloped in lead, physically they are similar. And I decide there and then that I can swap those feelings today. I can leave out the negative thoughts that define the feeling as depression, and replace them with thoughts of gratitude, joy and love. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there are no final answers, and enlightenment has to be given birth to in each new minute but it's as real as the marble statues of saints and apostles that seem to surround us and peek out from everywhere. For an instant I consider converting to catholicism; Hellin is baptized and so are both my kids; just as a gesture of supreme surrender but I know I am of a different tribe and could not honestly assume that mantle without serious mental gyrations and interpretations that have nothing to do with faith.
When Hellin emailed me she told me what her new mantra is: don't have expectations and you won't be disappointed. It's working for her, especially dealing with certain impossible people. But mantras like that in my experience work for a while and then lose their charge. So the search is neverending.
I am crippled by my lack of words, the weakness of my powers of observation, my lack of knowledge of what I saw today to make you feel it, or see it, or sense it. Maybe it's enough to let you know that places and experiences can be that powerful, and that they can be sought. Thank you Raul and Stephano.
When we think we might have overstayed our welcome we leave. I didn't find Mary Magdelene, there were alot of parts roped off. But the point of Jim's story as he tells it is that she has a look on her face as if to say: "Me? You mean I too can ...? Me?" She is not some divine character from antiquity; Donatello realizes her as a human being who has done things she may not be proud of like the rest of us, but who is forgiven or better yet, not judged at all. The harshest judgement, the most painful and the one that is healed, is her own.
We turn reluctantly away from the Duomo of Firenze. Stephano says he wants us to see the Ponto Veccio. To reach it we walk through the Uffizzi Gallery (Stephano's spelling-probably right) which is a square between two wings of a very famous museum which is lined with incredible sculptures of some very heavy Italians: Leonardo, Galileo, Dante, Michelangelo, you get the picture. It's 8:30 and we've beaten the crowds till now; the line for the museum is looooooooooooooooong around the block. We walk down the line of tourists along the river Arno and there's the bridge, old, old, old with shops built on it. We walk out onto it; none of the shops are open, they look like mostly jewelry stores but from other centuries with mahogany looking fronts that are sealed tight. Each way down the river, old Firenze, like a dream on Sunday morning. It's time to start looping back past the giant marble copy of Michelangelo's David, and Poseidon or Jupiter or whatever Roman gods dominate the plazas we pass through, Perseus holding the gorgon's head, and past some not too pretty people obviously American tourists, reminding us to try not to get carried away with our enthusiasm and become obnoxious. I could sit in a dark room for the rest of my life pondering the age, the souls come and gone, the suffering and joy, but I really just skip across the surface of life, leaving little impression and collecting little back.
There is the Duomo again looming over us like the milky way. We catch a bus in its shadow back towards the hotel; we can still see it from miles away across the city.
And we get back easily in time to hit the road to Rome by ten. I even took a bus ride in Florence! We're perhaps pushing it a bit. I usually take it easy on the road, not too much extra stuff but this had to be done, and I think we're all buzzed that we did it.
As I said, the pope is giving his first mass and we expect major delays, but we really cuise into Rome, down the highway that must follow a route that's been there for thousands of years. I keep thinking I see huge castles on the hills like Germany but what they actually are are old villages, with small castles, churches and lots of old houses. It's a different format than the other places we've been. We pull onto the big ring around Rome and poor Stephano gets us going the wrong way, but he rallys and we get to the club pretty much straight away after the initial wander. He has a similar problem to what Raul used to have, which I summed up as :"You're not trying hard enough" I don't mean it in a mean way, just that when I'm navigating I use every clue, every map every possible info, obsessively. Probably some childhood fear of being lost. Mike is more sanguine; I think being lost is part of the tour, an inevitable form of sightseeing. Course, every fucking day is different and my head could be totally up my ass right now. If it was me navigating Italy, we might still be driving.
Mike has spoken to Carlos, he's somewhere in Rome. It'll be great to see him.
We're three hours early, with nowhere to go and apparently the hotel was booked wrong and we have no rooms and not much likeliness of getting 'em if the Pope is as a big a draw as everyone thinks. When traffic turns out to be light we make jokes about the pope caving, crickets, what if the pope gave a mass and no one came? The club isn't going to be open till five, so guess what? Let's go find the fucking Coliseum. We walk, the three of us.
It's a ways. Mike shows us on a map that we're kinda near it, so even though Stephano, our guide, doesn't have any idea where it is, I'm pretty sure we'll get there. It's a pretty huge landmark, right? He asks directions, we look at a map; soon wierd ruins are looming up.
Rome has the ultimate case of Packratism. They have a whole city they can't throw away. Not that they should, but it's unbelievable the property they have to set aside in the middle of their city and leave undeveloped. Well, it's developed, just a bit in disrepair. All I could keep thinking was "the Glory of Rome, the Glory that was Rome." I mean, it's like a Central park sized ruin. There's the Coliseum, and the fact that you could get your picture taken with cigarette smoking, diet coke drinking legionaires or centurions or whatever the fuck they are in front of it alters it not one iota. It's GNARLY! What I mainly noticed is you've got these insane giant chunks of marble cut to fit, towering up and up, the arch gives it it's strength... there's a lot of brick repair work, that seems like it's different ages but, no, some of it's Roman brickwork too. You've seen lots of pix of the Coliseum and it's about what you expect, I guess; I like just kind of leaning back in the shadow of something enormous like that, watching the people pass.
There's a very old bent over babushka creeping very dramatically through the tourists shaking her cup, but there's something wrong with this picture and I'm not quite buying it. Raul's buying it even less, and when I look he's taking pictures of her and laughing (he wanted me to say SMILING) which is appropriate if she's faking and sadistic if she's not. Anyway we wander up from the Coliseum trying to get into these other areas of ruins and accidentally wind up in a beautiful church; back out of that and find our way down to the forum. This is more like the main square in front of Hitler's Reichstag but all prehistoric and entropy'd out. Columns lie on their sides, it's epic though, cause it's all so big, like the capitol in Washington D.C. only let's just rope it off and let it rot for a few millenium. Again I'm trying to describe something beyond my powers. You know the scene in "Alien" when they enter the Alien ship and it's all huge and spooky? Or the movie "Dune"? A lot of that, planet Arakis, was like downtown ancient Rome.
Stephano has reached the end of his strength, so he sits while we tear down to run around in the Forum, Then we head back with the intention of checking the Circus Maximus which Stephano informs us is where the chariot races used to be. The Coliseum was where they killed people for fun. And the Circus is really wierd looking: It's all brick and it's just been around too long so it's sort of like Churchill Downs or Hollywood Park or something except melted in a blast furnace. Again, big scale.
On the way back to the club, Zoo bar, I get to that state of, like I don't want to go any further, and I wonder if we've overdone it. Stephano is in a daze too. Raul is always fine and starts talking about going on a three hour grafitti excursion, (he doesn't.) Outside the club we're acosted by beggar ladies big time, it's a bad part of town the club tells us, and Stephano shows me why. Next door to the club is a big trailer park. Gypsies! Suddenly I understand the old lady at the forum. And Stephano points out the nice cars parked alongside the mobile homes. Successful Gypses! Another wierd scene from another century right in the middle of a punk rock tour; there have been so many.
And Carlos is there! He and Watt are sitting in the van immersed in some heavy conversation, we can see Mike gesturing wildly. It's good to see Carlos, he really makes me feel like I matter, not just some peripheral Mike Watt musician, which I've felt often over the years when I'm in sidemouse roles. And it's good to hear that Dutch accent, although the Italians just about corner the market in the colorful verbal department. Oh yeah, French. I hate to break it to Americans, but we don't talk super pretty.
The club is in this wierd neighborhood: gypsey camp, wierd unidentifiable structures burrowing into an ancient Roman hill; I can't quite put my finger on it, but as it grows dark the whole place sort of lights up into a mardigras row of drinking and partying establishments. I remember the flyer advertising free beer pub crawl and I realize this is it. And it's a holiday! The pope's first mass? Nope, the 60th anniversary of the end of facism, which strikes me as wierd....Italy remembers Mussolini as an oppressor who conquered them and had them under his boot till they resisted him and were victorious, yay. I never quite looked at it like that, and I don't think the Germans remember the Nazis like that either; they seem a little more shamefaced about it all. Remember: analyses by very ignorant American. Mike says theere was much more of a resistance in Italy.
The people from ZooBar get there and we load in; we're actually playing a tent attached to the main building. We soundcheck and to tell you the truth I'm pretty wrecked from lack of sleep and an overdose of siteseeing and religeous experience. It's frustrating because this morning I felt like I had such a handle on everything, and that life was a gift, and now, not 12 hours into my new outlook on life, all the old feelings are kind of flooding back, but with a big difference: I'm pretty fucking sure it's a result of exhaustion and hunger. When I was a young man those things didn't effect me quite so much, but guess what kiddos, even yours truly is subject to the laws of nature. Ever wonder why if you don't sleep you get tired and irritable? Just because you're tired why does it follow that you should be an asshole? But it does. But I push through the soundcheck.
You guys who read all three diaries may have noticed I'm the one who forgets names the most, probably because I'm the most self absorbed. Anyway, I can't remember the fucking soundman's name (Alberto?), but he drives a cab and together with the promoter, Jon Paulo (ha!), Raul, Stefano and I tear over to a nearby Italian restaurant and order up. I get mushroom spagetti, I ask for red and get white sauce, with a big salad which I eat, but I can't get too into the spagetti and wind up taking it back to the club. The dinner is kind of a trial, we're so fried, and lets face it I may be a little coffee deprived. I force the issue at the dinner table and just come out with it, put the cards on the table: I need coffee, I don't care what you think of me. So they make three shots of espresso and put it in a cup, completely freaking out that I'll go nuts or explode and I fucking drink it and start to revive. They just think of drinking coffee as having one shot of espresso. Na ahh. And it's embarrassing, because I'm self proclaimed off stimulants and mood altererers so fuck you I'm a hippocrite. But let me tell you something. There is A LOT of fucking wine drinking and cigarette smoking going on around us, and this band is doing pretty fucking good. It gets appealing when you're around a bunch of strangers all the time, and tired, and disoriented, but we haven't had a single case of anyone in our party being CLOSE to too high. And I am technically within my sordid borders.
Still slaphappy but not into my customary swing low sweet chariot, we return to the club, go upstairs and proceed with a routine that I have found grounds me and charges me. I type these diaries and listen to the mantra. Soon Raul and Stephano have joined me upstairs. Fuck I'll bet his name is Stefano and I've been spelling it wrong all this time...oh well. And it does get me back to feeling like playing the set is actually an option. Yes folks, sometimes it does not. And guess what? You get to go out there anyway, and everything takes care of itself just like existance.
The band before us finally go on, Squartet, and they are hardcore prog jazz funk. Apparently there is an Itallian scene of this kind of music, the band last night Obo was a little like this but these guys are farther out and instrumental. The drummer Marco is amazing, young and fun to watch, bass player Fabio great, but band based around guitarist Manlio who is a real fucking talent. He sits down to play but can't stay down of course, grinning, grimmacing playing a hollowbody, but what is he playing? How they do that? Makes us sound pretty simple and straight ahead, but don't get me wrong: when you layer the complexity of words and ideas things fractilate. Still whatthefuck, I've played music a long time and this is advanced. Jazz version of Dillinger escape plan or some of these really out there SF bands. Shit I'm talking out my ass, It's where jazz should be, KingCrimson, only complicated. Fun. And they have a nice little following, It's so wierd to see cute little girls sitting across the front of the stage listening to punk bebop. Manlio is tall, good looking and talented beyond belief and he's so cocky it's hilarious. If he fucking survives himself he should get known.
I watch them but notice unmistakeable signs of food poisoning coming on. That is disheartening. Well, I'm either going to be totally incapacitated or not or somewhere in between. I pay attention.
We go on and it's cool I feel comfortable, it's a tough act to follow, but I believe in us. The wierd thing is, I can't get Mike to look at me all night. He gives me not one hand signal, not nothing and that is not normal. It really starts worrying me. Am I playing perfectly? Has he given up on me? But I just go on. It's a good sized room pretty full, with yammering around the edges, but an attentive core. It's cool. The opera is still a level of energy below the encore which I think it doesn't have to be and shouldn't. OK, Paul. We want to know what YOU think!
At the end of each set the tip of my left index finger feels like a painful throbbing fuck. I look down and am kinda scared, because where the skin has pulled off it is white and looks like a large puss filled blister. But Raul says it is just new skin, and I think he's right, maybe. If it was black I know we would have a problem. The food poisoning, or stomach virus or whatever is in a holding pattern. It exists. It is in me. But it hasn't reared it's ugly head and tried to kill me. Yet.
After we finish the club quickly transforms itself into an 80's disco, and it's fucking loud! We pack up and it seems to take forever to get outta there, finally I'm sitting by the stage with all the gear by myself as lots of Italians dance to stuff like "Girls just wanna have Fun." I get into a really calm and alert mood, it's two a.m. and I've been up since seven, been to the Duomo and epic Rome, there's gypsies about and I ain't letting nothing get donated. But when they start playing "Friday I'm in Love" my mood shifts, OK, I'm a Cure freak, I'll explain that some other time, but my calm settles into a deep, deep feeling. I'm in no hurry to get the gear out and get to the hotel. I sit in total peace watching the beautiful Italian girls, dancing listening to the ear splitting 80's pop and know that things could be worse. In fact, it's "all good." Holy spirit in the house. As the song draws to a close, some dudes from the club show up to start moving stuff out to the van. I send it out in packing order, but stay in the club watching the gear. It still seems to take forever.
Finally, I go out with the last load through the dancing beautiful people, and yes there are some characture Italian guys, but also characture Italian girls in the sense of being struck by the thunderbolt. As I come outside it's like something out of Dante. The parking lot is jammed, where there were little shacks and hobbit holes are now throbbing, liquor soaked bacchanals. And the van is sort of floating in this sea of midget cars, hemmed in, possibly till further notice. It STILL isn't totally loaded, its a clusterfuck. And we have Stefano, who's looking stressed and annoyed (unlike him), and Carlos helping out. Anyway I'm not sure what the hold up is, but I join in making sure the gear is loaded and go up and get the rest of our bags and stuff. When I get down Mike is making a run for it, leaving us all behind, which may be a good idea or not. Stephano tells me he still has to take care of the money and returns through the mobscene to the club; I take off in the general direction the van went off to, down this jammed street of bars and eventually catch up with Carlos and Raul. Carlos is not happy that Mike ran off; Raul calls it "panic" but we both smile because its situation normal. We walk around Party Central, Rome for awhile, circle, backtrack, on foot against a sea of maniacs and eventually spot the parked "Diks Verhuur" blue van. And not long after, unbelievably, Stephano and Jan Paolo show up, to get us to the hotel! I say unbelievably because finding each other in that is like two cockroaches finding each other in Magic Mountain. The hotel rooms had been booked for the wrong day, but people had got their shit together and we have a couple of rooms across town.
We park the band illegally in the hotel driveway but their cameras are watching and they give us the OK. Stefano, Raul and I get a room and talk for a while. Stefano wasn't happy about the way the club had handled things, but he could have been irritable because we had driven him beyond the limits of human endurance into that long dark tunnel where you look into the eyes of madness and he is you. When I pass out Raul is watching "prisoner" episodes on his computer.
Hellin seems very far away. Can't get through on the phone, no computer for a few days, crazy running around in Italia. I know I don't have to be miserable missing you for you to know I love you. And I hope you're not feeling jealous of my luck to be here. And I know life at our home is sick and crazy and disfunctional and it's all on your shoulders right now. Someday... We're in this middle stretch of the tour where it seems like it'll never end. But I feel myself growing, changing, healing, leaving behind the sickness and it will be good for her too. Good night.
pop at eight and hose off then hit the chow pad part of the 'tel - whoa, it's packed big time so I chow kind of hovering over one corner of the chow table. they got sandwich fixing stuff and I also put down a bowl of cereal w/some pretty warm milk, trippy. back up to the chamber to prime the body w/my supplements and then chimp my thoughts of the last day 'til it's time to bail. I look down at the boat from the window and notice next to use is a sewage treatment plant or what I live to endearingly call a turd farm. we got these in carson, I pass them when I'm coming back to pedro on the harbor freeway. it's these big round basins w/an arm like a turntable on each of them. kind of trippy when I get down to the boat and look through the fence - there's a lifer preserver on a rail, I wonder both of those implications and whether ours have the same. I think of my pool cleaner friend tony. my head makes the strangest connections.
my guys and our stefano load up in the boat and we're off for rome. looks like the gig in rome has some competition cuz the new pope is having his first mass. that's earlier in the day though. we're have no idea how crazy the traffic might be cuz of that gig (not our gig but the new pope's) so we're padding our voyage w/no-worry time, easier on the nerves. dutch dude carlos is to meet me and be w/us here for the next two gigs too, righteous. he always makes me happy, always makes me think. south through tuscany we stream, wonderful hill scenes out the windows, much more than our last rides cuz we're 'pert-near right on italy's spine. lots of bridges to keep things pretty level though, no big grade climbs. just incredible views of hill towns, vinyards and green - europe in the spring is so green, really. there's parts of the u.s. that make me think of this green way, like east-west through wisconsin, between minneapolis and madison but maybe cuz the pad plots are smaller, things don't seem as broad and the way things curve up w/the land appear more condensed up. it's a beautiful drive, out of tuscany and into umbria, we make for rome and get up on the huge ring around the city. all of it seems under construction but the go isn't so crazy plugges as we thought it might get, it's pretty calm. we did see a bunch of northbound plug as we got more south which made us wonder what that was about - it was miles and miles of major plug while our way was an easy go. a problem for us though was we got on the ring the wrong way and we have to bring things about after a bunch of klicks being mistaken. we loop to correct and try the other way and sure enough, find our exit and way into town to the venue. the traffic is the calmest I've ever had here, we roll into the southeast part, past there old old walls - a big pyramid had been built in to part of it and there's this road that takes us down to this area that seems a little beat up, kind of like a big lot w/small pads ringing it like stables or pens around a corral. of course they're not all open like that to the are but that's what they make me think of. there's much graffiti and after two tries, we find number 22 on the building for the address (this really isn't a "street" like we would call it - more of like what I said was a lot) and my guys w/our stefano hoof to see things old and roman. it's better I chimp here in the boat and wait for carlos - he yanked on the walkie-talkie leash right before we docked. so I chimp diary until he comes in a cab. in the meantime, there's a mother-daughter-granddaughter team asking for money, it is heavy on me and I flow. later, as carlos is talking w/me, they return and it's uncomfortable and they won't relent - they use italian but I can figure they want to trade good luck, even a talisman in the form of kernel of corn. everyone has these experiences probably, in the u.s. there's lots of asking for money and it's difficult maybe to address it, why am I putting it here in this tour spiel? I can feel the corn kernel in my pocket now as I chimp. I don't have my thoughts maybe together enough to make a clear accounting of my mission, things making sense in a coherent way can be such a tough thing on me. all I know is me and carlos sitting here and talking theories (I'm always assaulting carlos w/theories) and then this reality enters so that's why I feel compelled to chimp it. I traded euros for the talisman. I flow all the tollars on the dash (what worth?). they relent though. this is not embarrass anyone or make me look the most kind man ever. I get tore up in the head. I find it hard to watch films of knee surgeries cuz of empathy thoughts and get imagined hurts in my knees. I spiel more theory w/carlos. he tells me chan (cat power) is doing good w/gigs in scandinavia, he books her gigs. I think what she's doing can inspire me maybe to pursue an idea I've had for a time now, "mike watt + the machinerymen" where I play bass and do spiel against other music parts I've loaded into a 'puter. I mean, thinking econo, you're mind explores ways to distilled the tour experience down to maybe the most singular essence - just watt rolling w/watt and jamming w/watt. that would be a trip to fully solamente like that. it's pretty much how I live in pedro, why not mirror that w/a tour? hmm... now I think chan travels w/another person but she does the gigs alone. I wouldn't have the neve to travel around w/an acoustic guitar and do the early dylan thing (though I had a summer of pretensions about that in my eighteenth year, right when d. boon tried to join the navy) but maybe being part of a "band in a box" even if the idea seems kind of karaoke here being chimped this way, I'd try to make it another dimension of watt world. to play bass against machines might be my biggest challenge yet! if I could make it interesting... these are the parallel thoughts going through my head at the moment. I try to stay in the moment w/carlos though, his thoughts are most interesting. he talks of the bigger things we try to keep in mind while busy at work w/the smaller things of the now. oh, these parallel universes! wheels inside of wheels, huh?
raul and paul return and we load in for soundcheck. this place is the "zoo bar" and where we're playing is in a part that has a big tent of plastic for a roof. the soundman is named alberto and it's only his second time here - he says usually this place has cover bands when there is a band cuz lots of times it's a dj playing for disco. there's an opening band called squaretet and I meet the three guys in that band, talking first w/the bassist fabiano and showing him my bass. I then meet the guitarist manlio and the drummer marco (marco's tomorrow night's promoter). we do soundcheck and then it's upstairs in the dressing room and the promoter john-paul (I think that's his name, I didn't quite catch it but he's a real nice cat - maybe it's george-paolo?) has put out sandwich fixings and I chow down some salami w/cheese - trippy cheese, white balls floating in water. I think this is good enough for me so when stefano asks about me joining everyone for dinner, I decline and instead chimp diary 'til I'm tired and then find a corner in a dark room and konk there, using my backpack as a pillow. I pop like a half-hour before we're to go on and watch the last of the squaretet do their set. they're part of this movement here in italy called "jazzcore" and it's instrumental music w/tons of notes and parts that's got both kind of a mathrock and fusion thing about it. favio is an excellent bassist, using many techniques both w/a pick, his fingers and slapping. manlio is a wild guitarist and uses no strap (he said he lost the first one he got and never bought another) and plays mainly sitting down but stands up at times. drummer marco is really tight and great w/the toms and high-hat. it's some great stuff they're doing. raffela from the gradara gig has shown up to see us again, he says hi and I hug him big time cuz it's great to see him.
now our turn, since marco used raul's kick drum, it's a pretty quick change-over and soon we're ready to go. no monitors for the first three tunes though. it seems pretty consistent since I've been doing the piece that the inferno part keeps the folks watching most captivated and starting w/the purgatory part it gets more and more challenging. the way I wanted to convey healing and the slow way that comes about maybe doesn't translate so well to what people expect at a rock gig, like "what the fuck is this" or something. tonight though it seems like my biggest failure ever at holding an audience. the monitors come back on but they have a real intense midrange honk to them, making things a little rough. I hate however to blame things like equipment or sound, I sincerely think the human spirit can overcome shit like that to make a gig work. it is not a good gig for me though I think as a band, we're doing pretty ok w/the piece but something's fucked up. I can hear disco drum from outside the tent, what's that? it's not that big but it's got me wondering, at first I thought it was coming through the monitors! aaarrrgggghhh, I'm kind of most mad at not being able to good for carlos, I wanted to play good for him - not just executing parts but getting something out to him that's beyond just doing parts. we come back for an encore, much respect for the folks who stuck it out for having us return so I have us do everything but the roky tune as a thank you to them but on the other hand, I can't blame anyone for bailing cuz maybe it was not happening. it is the day italy was liberated from the fascists sixty years ago and it's a neat thing to be somehow part of that and I tell the people here that. but as far as mike watt music in their life... well, this is a weird piece, maybe way too internalized for hardly anyone to relate to. when paul tells me he think it's important to deliver this work to folks and that's why he's on this tour, it really strikes me most generous of him.
it's not like everyone in the pad bailed and lots of folks thank me and say such nice things but hell, I feel like a shmuck. stefano gives me the thumbs up - oh pisano, you're a good man. I go out to get the boat ready for loading and am very VERY surprised to see what I find... what had been a deserted area when I arrived and docked the boat is now filled w/like a thousand or more cars and all those pads that looked kaput are now open w/disco blasting out of them. the boat is surrounded and the only way it can move is forward from the wall so we can get the equipment loaded into it. carlos is kind of (KIND OF?!) freaked out, as is stefano. I am wondering what is to be done, it is a situation most comical in a way. there actually is a path straight ahead and to a small side road - the road the club folks want us to take is hard starboard and there's no way for me to bring the boat around to make that, not the way these sardine-packed cars are all about us. stefano says the gigboss says wait like twenty minutes but I'm seeing more and more cars streaming in - there's a gated parking area just opened and they're making for that, blocking the only way out I can see. worse than that is people are actually parking in this only route out for us - aaahhh!!! my thinking is I better make for it now before things are sealed up toot-sweet. luckily, the gear has just got in and I start down the narrow path when this guy pulls in front and starts getting out to leave - what?!!! I beg the guy to give me just a moment to get through (per favore!) and he's a nice cat and relents (grazie mille). I weave the boat somehow around all the cram-in and make it down the sideroad - peitro, a friend of carlos' (he was visiting w/him earlier - I mistook him for another guy named pietro who rode w/us in the boat for trip last tour) jumps in to help guide me to the bigger road outside this crazy place. by some luck, I find an open space after a quarter mile and pull the boat in, then ask pietro to go back and let my guys know where I fled to. what a chaotic scene, cars and people everywhere but somehow my guys find me and we're all together. I just had to go for it or we would've been stuck there for how long... how many hours? days? weeks even? I feel so much better we're all in the boat. we follow the gigboss (no idea how he got out but he does have a small car) through the middle of rome to where the 'tel (another one had to be procured cuz the original had been booked for the wrong night), we pass they coliseum which is pretty righteously lit up. I remember last time I was here I saw it at night too and tripped on how the cats stay warm, laying on the lights recessed in the stone. someone here last time told me they were cats from way back, brought from egypt and caesar saying they couldn't be killed so these are their descendents. you can imagine the mister toad's wild ride it takes to stay behind our lead but I keep us in the race. we reach the 'tel and there's no where to park (way more intense than double parking, people just put it right in the middle of the street!) but the desk cat says it's ok to use the driveway and a camera's watching there.
big hugs for george-paul (hope that's his name) cuz he was nice to me, truly a fratello. hugs for stefano too, so sad this was his last night w/us cuz he's so much a great cat. much respect. I hit the deck, get naked (yeah, in that order) and then yank blankies on me - it's 'pert-near almost impossible to believe I came through that crazy shit and finally I can stop. trippy how all that came on me and changed up the thinking in my head after I was feeling sorry for myself and my doing lame for the folks who came to the show, those who were disappointed. like in "the sand pebbles" when that asshole who's in command of the boat finally gets alive when given a mission to get the missionaries out, that fuckhead who's such an asshole to holman (the sailor steve mcqueen plays). ok, I did alright getting the boat out of that mess but when am I gonna do what I came to europe w/my guys better, deliver this fucking piece where it means something? I've gotta get it fucking together.
three and half bells, finally I konk.
monday, april 25, 2005 - terracina, italy
from dutch dude carlos:
For a couple of hrs the man outside the van is one of the men in the van.
Mike doesn't trust my directions, Mike: "get to the big ringroad and follow signs that's how we always do it"
I have directions from Claudio, Stephano and the lady at the desk of the hotel and this time I'm more stubborn than Mike (not easy) and I make it work.
We pass some Fascist architecture and a bike race. Mike drives and takes pictures in the crazy Rome traffic while he gives speeches about everything his eyes catch and everything else. Very intense and again we have conversations about politics and religion and still we don't agree. I love him.
The old part of Terracina is really beautiful, little streets with steep houses kept from falling over by all kinds of scaffolding. I have a delicious ice cream on the old old old square (Paul you should have....) I want to visit the church but there's a service and i don't want to disturb the believers.
We go to the house where the Secondmen sleep, Watt hands over a big bundle of "bones" to take with me to Rotterdam. The walk hurts his knees I see the big man suffering, shit.
Claudio came to the show, he's been my Watt man in Italy since the 80's. I've only met him a couple of times, I always feel comfortable working with him. He and I are just one day apart in age, both 50 since aug last year. (I hate it) He had me and Monique in his house in Florence in 88 or 89.
The gig feels like a weddingparty, chairs and tables and couches along the walls. Again not a great show, I'm so glad i really loved the Rotterdam gig. Mike has trouble on stage, monitors are not working. The people in Terracina are very nice, they take us to a nice restaurant for a lots of great seafoot, joints are passed along during desert, strange. I talk with Claudio's girlfriend, she is from Syria. She lived in many places, she works as an English teacher, she speaks the language very beautiful.
I gave Mike a cell phone (walkie talkie ) before the tour for cases of emergency, it needs new code for making calls, it takes careful dialing, I made it work after some tries. Spooky.
Claudio and his gilrfriend drive me back to Rome in a 60's Fiat, really cool car no "gordels" (buckles). We missed some turn so the ride took forever but it was still cool because i spend more time with these nice people..
Carlos is gonna spend one more day with us, but unfortunately, yesterday was stefanos last gig. So after breakfast, we say our goodbyes, and wait out front for carlos. After about a half hour of waitin', he shows. Usually navigators in the shotgun, but not today. Carlos hops in the back, and starts shoutin' out routes. It cracked me up to watch carlos give watt directions, at first it was hard to tell how serious he was, if he was at all... he was, but then i figured he was havin' a good time with mike. On the way to the freeway, a bicycle race sped past. The guys were so close, the riders practically on top of each other, one accident and everything goes bad, and i'm sure the car following two feet behind doesn't help that either... splatter rock. Terracina is about a two hour drive along the coast of italy. The scenery is kinda like the inland of california, a little dry and bit dusty. This is not so inland though, in oppisite directions, it's coast line and mountains just a mile off. Small town with farming on the outskirts. Carlos dosn't think we can make it to the club on our own wits, it can't be to hard, go to the center of town and ask a local, i mean we've made it this far, but he insist that we stop and call up marco and have him show us how to get there. A couple of the guys that were in squretet are setting up the show tonight. Well anyway we take the carlos advice, and hit a parking lot and start calling for directions. It takes a minute, but it comes to watts attention that we're parked right in front of the flippin' place. Coincidentally, the guitar player for the band tonight goes drivin' by and spots us. Okay, so it wasn't the place right across the street, it's the place behind it. It'a called the popes satbles, and i think it was in fact the old popes stables... Weird place for a show. It was all done up inside, and connected to a restaurant. As soon as we got there the gear was onstage. After i set up, i went to the back of the club to find a place to sit and read... crashed out in five minutes. I got a tap on the shoulder, and it was time for sound check. It seemed like maybe i'd slept fifteen or twenty minutes, try two hours. Damn it took these guys a while to set up, when i saw paul, he looked a bit irritated, he'd been waitin' t for a long time. Soundcheck went quick. I had about a half hour before we went to eat, so i took a walk around the middle of town, and passed the time by looking around an old cathedral, after that it was time for some grub. Remember the spot we thought was the club, well it turned out to be the eatery. According to a couple locals, it was the best food cooked by the best chef ever, that's a strong statement, but i've had such good food in italy, i'm sure there's some truth in it. To get to the restaurant, we gotta take this old stone stairway that leads down to the street. Besides the group, we also have carlos, Claudio and his lady friend, plus jenny the girl who books for some of these bands. Some of the band and club guys are around, but are sittin' at the bar havin' some beers. The cook comes to our table and ask if seafood is okay, so it's not separate orders, we all get the same thing, it does make more sense, especially if he's the only guy in the kitchen. Like before, the meal comes out in courses. In big dishes that we all grab from. After the third one i figure it's all done, and i step outside to have a smoke. The cook comes outside and tells me it's alright to smoke inside. Like california, it is against the law, but just like anywhere, people also don't always agree with that law. When i get back to the table, there's a hugh piece of fish, and a potato vegetable dish that is bad ass, i guess this is the main course, it's hard to tell with these folks. So everybody is eatin', talkin' having a great dinner, and out of nowhere, the waitress hands jenny a lit spliff, no fuckin' way, not only can we smoke in here, but we can smoke in here. I don't know about you, but that was a first for me. While we were there, a group of people had taken the table next to ours, and they must of knew the deal, cuz one of em' was rolling at the table, he came over and handed it to Claudio. It's like sending a table a bottle of wine or something, not that i've ever done that. They were right, pretty good grub. Dinner goes on for ever, and by the time we leave to walk back it's past ten.
The show is set to start at ten thirty, and the opening band is called neo. The guitar player from squarest more nervous band. He's amazing, so i'm sure the two other guys he plays with must be the same. I can already tell the drummer is on point. All the heads have exact two inch circles, where his sticks hit everytime, no marks outside of those circles. Real spazzy jazz, and like everybody in the crowd, they're sittin' down. I ask jenny about this phenomena and she said it's like that all over italy, she seen grind core bands, and everyone sittin', very different from what i'm used to, and that's good. If it's true, and things come in threes, then we should also have a shitty sound on stage tomorrow. I don't know what the problem was tonight, but during the whole set i could hear a loud feedback and the loudest thing in my monitor were pauls vocals. I laugh, cuz something about it is funny, but i don't like the fact that it makes it so hard to hear that it's near impossible to be together. The peeps from the restaurant came to the gig, and invited us back for some pasta and wine. Jenny smelled a ruse, and told about how in germany after a gig some folks got invited to do the same kinda thing, thinkin' it was free they went for it. When they couldn't pay, the dudes got all pissed, and accused people of trying to rip em' off, who knows who's trying to rip who off, but i didn't get that impression. Met a lot of good people after the gig, real cool town. Antonio, the drummer from neo is gonna set us up a block away, at his parents apartment in the old town. It's so close to club that we can walk there... It's such a neat thing to be walkin' down these old stone streets at night. Some of the crew has to drive back to rome, carlos and Claudio already left. I know the dudes from squaretet gotta do the same, but before they leave they walk with us to the apartment to say lates. Great meting them, and i'm sure i'll see em all again.
First order of business is saying farewell to Stefano, who I've enjoyed alot. I don't think he had any idea what he was getting himself into, and I'm not sure if all the things he did for us were in his origenal job description, but he never shirked, he's a slight guy, and threw himself into moving equipment, he wrote diaries in English; fuckit I just like him. I gave him my CDs, and he gave me his, I think he said he was a music major at the conservatory on upright bass. May we meet again on the road of happy destiny. We have breakfast together around 9:30, then I go back and lie down while he gets his shit together; he returns, leaves, I pass back out. Adios, my good friend.
We get a phantom wake up call at 11:45 and head down, but no ones really there. I go back to the room for a minute then come down again. Mike, Raul and I wait in the car for Carlos who is driving with us to Terracina. There have been further developements in the stomach disfunction, but nothing crippling. Carlos shows shortly after 12:00, asks the hotel concierge for detailed directions, and returns with them intending to navigate, but there is some kind of good natured friction with Mike and somehow I wind up in the front seat with no directions. Carlos knows exactly where we're going and does a great job navigating from the back seat. At the first stop I swap with him. He and Mike are at each other; he's a Christian Democrat which offends Mike's American sensibilitiess, they go back and forth and it's right on the verge of being not nice, but they've known each other for a while and I'm just glad it's not me. At one point, I actually try to find out what the fucking Christian Democrats are about and it didn't seem as sinister for a little country like Holland, as it does in the Bush jr. America. A another point he tells Mike to shut up. It's difficult not to like Carlos.
We're driving along the Appian way which is sort of the Roman equivalent of the 405 freeway south of LA on the way to SanDiego. A couple of times I almost forget I'm in Italy and that's the mediterranean. Actually we don't see much of the Mediterranean till we get near Terracina, I sort of doze in the back sizzled from yesterday.
We puli into town sorta aimlessly and without direction and Mike and Carlos are at it again. Carlos, I think, tries to be systematic and Watt is sporting his savvy, just groovin'. Eventually we just pull over and get ready to ask someone. I think the directions were: "pull into town and ask someone where the popes stables are" and we're getting ready to do just that. Mike is needling Carlos, partly because he knows it really doesn't matter, ye are bound to wander. So we're sitting there and Mike starts laughing, cause right in front of us is a sign for "La Scuderia" (the popes stables) which is the name of the club. Carlos is nonplussed, but still not sure it's right so we get out and start walking towards the place and at that moment, two of the folks from last night drive up and ask us how long have we been there? It's hilarious, Carlos smiles ruefully, and Mike points out that we've had a lot of lucky breaks like that when it comes to finding places.
The club is actually up a cliff and we drive up till we overlook the city, a quaint port town like you might see along the coast of Calfornia except everything is all Italian and shit. There's an island offshore that Mike says is where Ulysses wrecked. Up behind the club the hill continues into a mazed jumble of tiny streets (some of them have stairs!) and old houses built on top of older houses The club is a very long building along the edge of the cliff that I guess really used to be stables but now has a restaurant, and a concert hall. It's a pretty unique deal although clapping the hands result in ten quick echoes; fascinating. Folks are there; we load in. The show is actually being promoted by the band we played with last night, Squarto, and some of those guys are around, Manlio the guitarist extrordinaire, their German manager chick Jenny, more of their crue. We have no lengual communication with the soundman, doesn't that seem problematic? He also doesn't know how to mike the Leslie, has no direct boxes, but I don't let any of that get to me, it always just seems to be what it is, and works out in the end, right? But after I set up, Iie down on some couches and snooze and it really seems to take forever for him to be ready for us, so I wake up a little cranky. I'm still fried from yesterday, and have this fantasy of a hotel room, a shower, a walk in the cool evening air around the tiny beautiful Italian town, a meal....etc and that hope is fading as time passes. Anyway we check, and it's maybe the first time we are unable to make it through "the red and the black" due to nightmare. Whatever, it's a soundcheck. We get off to let the opening band check and I laugh when I find out it's Manlio again with a different rythm section. I've known guys like him, coupla bands, coupla girlfriends...Jenny tells a story about this morning: some kid upstairs was bouncing a basketball, and Manlio put two holes in the ceiling with a baseball bat. Anyway, there he is grinning explaining this is his Terracino band, yesterday was his Roma band, this band is more "nervous." Hate ta break it to ya dude but that was pretty "nervous" last night. He BARELY speaks any english.
Mike is going to be interviewed; I stand outside with Carlos and the newly arrived Claudio, an old friend of Mike's who booked the Italian portion of the tour and has worked with Mike before. Turns out we don't have hotels, there is an "apartment" up the hill, Jenny describes it this way: "We have to walk up, the roads are too small, you will have a great view!" but meantime everything is on hold till Watt is done and that can take a while. Carlos encourages me to take the steps up to the village, and I decide to take him up on it. It is 6:30, the sun is setting, I climb up into a beautiful piazza with a dome on one side. The city is intense, this isn't for the tourists really,the houses are built on top of the ruins it is like a jumble of blocks from all different centuries and people LIVE THERE, their laundry hangs in the windows, grandmas look out, fucked up cats refuse to look at you. Small cars pass, aha! designed for THIS kind of place, no Excursions or Dodge trucks.
I sit in the piazza for a little while watching the people coming out of the little cafe with ice creams longingly, then try the door of the cathedral; it's open, beautiful, some ladies are doing some kind of church chores at the altar, other people come in, dip their fingers and cross themselves. I sit down and let myself feel calm. Not great at it, but OK. This cathedral is smaller, a little rougher, more country, less cosmopolitan, but cathedral nonetheless. After, I keep walking up the little roads, past bent old ladies walking very slowly, eyeing me. Eventually I'm on the road that leads up to the old castle, which I'm pretty sure is Roman, and I'm pretty sure I can reach but it suddenly dawns on me that it's seven and I'm going to miss dinner so I charge back. There's not much risk of getting lost cause everything is on a hill and I I'm back quick but Mike is still interviewing. Carlos and Claudio have gone up to the "apartment" but pretty quick everyone appears and we head down to the restaurant, which is advertised as "the best ever."
We walk back down to sea level and enter a little place off one of those windey backstreets, up some stairs and sit down. There's a little shuffling as we figure out who's actually eating; it winds up being the secondmen, Carlos, Claudio and his girlfriend who was totally nice and who's name I have of course forgotten. They ask about drinks and you know I want coffee, while everyone else starts in on the wine, maybe it's time to say farewell to lovely caffeine, although fuck, it's in a lot of stuff! By the way the waitresses are scary beautiful, the place is in one of those old buildings that are old enough that all the corners seem round. There are little alcoves with picturesque farmer stuff in them. They bring wine, water and each of us gets a plate of little clams, flavored perfectly on a piece of toast. THAT'S pretty good. Then an octopus salad, a pasta with a coupla shrimps or crawfish, I'm not sure what those are but good. I'm pretty full and it seems like that could do it but they bring one more plate with a thin slice of swordfish, a very large squid and a coupla more crayfish with claws cooked to taste like tiny lobsters. Pretty incredible, then desert comes, cookies that you soak in shots of booze, and little coconut balls which are great. Then the waitress brings a fucking joint! And some other people that came in after us pass joints over and it's a big party. Wow. what a meal. And other than coffee I passed on the intoxicants. Why? I could participate in the whole thing, and handle it, it would be fun to get all buzzed on wine, that shot with the cookie looked really good, though I remember mashing all that shit together and feeling kind of crappy mixed with good, having to pull it together, fighting the fuzziness, headachy and nauseous before playing, sometimes after, sometimes not getting it together and puking after the show. I don't think I ever really fucked up a show, there are degrees, sometimes I don't feel like anyone can tell whether I'm playing good or not anyway, but now just for me, you get me they way I am unadulterated, better or worse. My view of drinking and drugs gradually slid into places where it wasn't fun, it was tragic, it was heartbreaking, it was ugly, sordid. Eventually it was all about people lying and stealing from and to their best friends and relatives. It was about jail, lawyers, borrowing money, being in debt, health shit, seizures, abscesses, arguments, hopelessness, desperation, paranoia, death, insanity. Not just for me at all, more for people around me. I still had fun with it, I handled it pretty good, but I honestly flat out started hating it for what it was doing to people I loved, and eventually if you hate something you might arrive at: FUCK THIS... OVER!!!!! I will not participate. At all. And then you realize that it's not so easy. It's a real project. And all your nerves become exposed like a skinned cat, as my friend Jeff says, and you realized the life you lived when you used to sedate yourself a little, when you used to check out with a joint or a few stiff ones is terrifying and now what the fuck are you going to do? Start over?
But this is not one of those times, this is one of those good times, where everyone laughs and feels good, and life is a celebration. I have another coffee to the amazement of the beautiful waitress and learn about consistancy.
We walk back up the hill, and it's about time for Manlio's Terracino band to play, Neo. And again it's kinda sick how good they are. The inventiveness that comes off his fingers, no repeats it almost seems like, his songs are like tour; you're always in a new place. And a real joy of playing: "Look what I made, Ma!" I stand at the side of the stage and our eyes keep meeting, at one point he ends a song, checks his tuning and he's way out, we look at each other with the sour milk face and laugh...while he was playing though you couldn't even tell. I kept going in and out of backstage, but Raul said the drummer kept detuning the guitars and bass, then yelling at them to tune up! Manlio plays with no strap (he told Mike he lost his first one and never got another) so when he gets excited he stands up and plays anyway...it's rad. Then between songs, they're instrumental so there's no mike to talk into, he just stands up and talks to the crowd sans amp. Fucking excitable guy.
Our set was problematic, I mean, honestly, I've been inspired by the last two opening bands, and I will let nothing faze me, I get on and get excited and play and ignore if it sounds like shit in the monitors and have faith that it sounds good out front. I'm not sure this is true, but I feel like set up as far forward as I am, I can almost hear front of house and I go by that. Good thing too, because poor Gabrielle the soundguy has things pretty fucked up. First of all there are feedbacks which actually force us to stop in the middle of the opera, which I don't think has happened yet on this tour; later I have bass blasting in the monitor for which there is no excuse, there is no explanation for how bad the sound was except whoops. It's just one of those shows. The Leslie even stops spiining at one point. The drummer Marco had a lot to do with setting it up, he was working the door, I felt bad cause people could tell we weren't happy but I tried hard not to make a big deal of it. Mike thought I was playing too loud, I told him over and over that I had him blasting in my monitor and I think it sank in what that meant. I don't let things in the set get to me except Mike being mad and that gets to me alot.
After there are women throwing themselves at us, mmm, well maybe at Raul, so we pack up, the restaurant guy invites us back, that's tempting but by the time we're ready to go it's also out. Carlos and Claudio leave quick for Rome. I sit outside and talk to a very pretty Italian girl named Belinda about politics while Watt parks the van in a safe place (seems to take forever) and then head up to the apartment. It's up in the windey world and I've been wondering what it would be like to live in one of these places and it's nice, a few bedrooms, pretty nondescript really, once you get inside. It belongs to Antonio, drummer from Neo, 's parents or grandparents or (what a torturous sentence) but it's deserted. Marco, Antonio and Manlio accompany us and hang out for a while, again I think it's hard for us to say goodby. As advanced as they are, and as far as they've taken their music, I have a feeling they see it as an extension of what Watt and the rest of us did all those years ago, and still do. And therefor, very respectful. Back at them.
We bed down in the cold, cold rooms. It isn't till morning that Raul finds the open windows and the unplugged heater. And I will never, till the day I die, not think of my beautiful wife before and after I close my eyes.
pop at nine and find raul the chowpad part of the 'tel and shovel alongside him, yogurt on granola-like cereal and then a roll w/some crudo (ham) and cheese stuffed in it. I go back up to my room and soak in the tub, longest one yet of the tour - my legs can unbend and that feels really ok. boy, does the old man in me creak much sometimes. carlos comes from the 'tel he konked at and joins us in the boat for the ride down to our terracina gig. one last hug for stefano (he's gotta take take the train back to bologna) - safe seas to you, marinaro. so glad he gave me him and his buddies' piece (their band's name is 3/4hadbeeneliminated) called "king lear" - can't wait to hear it, it's in like nine parts.
we shove off and carlos asks if I know where we're going. well, marco gave me directions like "get on the big loop (grande raccordo anulare), hit exit 26, take the road to terracina, go to the middle of town and ask for the pope's stables" and carlos thinks these are too vague. he moves from the navigator's seat to the back bench but issues directions claudio gave him from there. he is pretty intense and has little faith it seems when I tell him about how we've manage pretty fucking ok all tour but he is carlos and I must obey. his directions get us where we need to pretty much of the way, much respect to him. terracina's pretty much on the mediterranean coast about 120 klicks south of rome but we can't get much a view of the water from where the road is. where is directions fail is when we get to town and he's once more in a panic so I try and reassure him but he's in freak-out mode so I stop in what I believe is the middle of town. he gets on his walkie-talkie leash as I look out the windshield and slowly it comes to me... he had commented when I shut down the motor how it's weird that two floors of this old building we're restored w/the other two untouched and I finally notice that the sign on it reads "la scuderia" which is the name of tonight's venue! is that a trip or what? the building we're playing is actually up the hill a little but we landed right in the vicinity, intense. oh, I forgot to mention our discussion on the way down which was religion in politics. he says it has a place as much as the bible being a book and communism coming out of a book but I think it's much too personal an issue to make it property of governmnet. anyway, that's my read of jefferson - you might have religious people in government but not a government of religion (as in no establishment of a state religion). maybe he means the same thing too though. it's hard to know what anyone really means when talk gets like this. I love him dearly though and would never want him to think I think he's wrong or even worse, that I'm right. I am a kook given to blather and trying to get better. cats like carlos are truly my teachers. he makes the greatest sense when he uses examples, showing his experience and I dig that. I guess the danger of the "monopoly on truth" stuff is enough to guard against anything being based on a book, communism or whatever. that makes sense to me. as alfred north whitehead said:
"there are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.
it is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil"
hmm... our constitution is supposed to be a living document. I don't think we should be telling the dutch how to live however, they seem to have lots together but of course also some difficulties. we all got our pluses and minuses weighing in on us as we try to make the best of it. I know it might sound like this theme keeps beating me over the head but that's probably cuz it is. hope I ain't boring the fuck out of anyone try to wade through my babble on it.
the weather's been righteous the whole day - I'm told this big peak you can see as you look towards the water is where medusa was supposed to be in the old greek myths. I wonder if I heard that right. we load in to this big long room - oh boy, more killer acoustics. we got another opener tonight and it's more jazzcore, guitarist from last night, manlio and is band neo (not meaning new but rather mole, like in a birthmark). he's got fabrizio on bass and antonio on drums - anotnio is helping marco put on the show. quite a close-knit scene, this jazzcore. we do soundcheck w/gabriel and then I do an interview w/jenny, a german lady from cologne who books bands in this scene and writes for some zines. these cats have much respect to for the minutemen and so much back. I wonder if it's insane for them to hear me doing this piece w/it's long drawn out songs and devices all devoted to the telling of a middleaged man's sickness and healing - next time though, I'll have something kind of minutemen-like, lots of crazy tiny parts w/no need to stretch time out and each tune it's own tiny story distilled down to the bare nada! I am inspired. actually, it was playing those old songs again w/george hurley last year that started it brewing in my head. it's good I'm committed though to something like this on my current voyage - like I don't need more building to the character or what? if anything's a little weird it's my lack of nerve (is that weird though? seems like I've been trying to get a leg up on that my whole fucking life!) and maybe doing it w/out the guys I made it for, pete and jer but maybe there's a big lesson to learn from that seeing how committed two good cats like raul and paul are. I get to missing pete and jer when I play this piece, get insecure and all but then it's so happening to look over and have these shipmates I got w/me here to help me so. I know it must a trial for them as it was for pete and jer to help me give birth to it. anyway, jenny does the interview and asks me lots of stuff about the piece, having saw it last night in rome. some folks were dancing to it up front and she asks how could that be so, people dancing to a guy relating big hurts and shit. well, I tell her about this geologic form we got in the u.s., the grand canyon and how sometimes something 'pert-near as big as that is between the cat delivering and the cat receiving in regards to art - there's that gulf that divides. it might be presumptuous in fact to try and think otherwise. people will make of things what they will - I am convinced they have that right. this is not get all on her for asking that cuz it makes good sense to bring something like that up, I mean the whole idea of the piece back in the u.s. has been questioned by people writing about it. I think some folks think I'm out of my mind but it's just something I had to do at this point in my life. it's a good spiel, she asks lots of good stuff and I'll link it to my hoot page when it's up and ready.
claudio has arrived, the man who's brought me to italy all these years, a dear brother. actually, he got here while I was spieling but I had to finish that - carlos wanting me to hurry it up so we could chow. had to do it right though but when done, we all go over to the building I saw the "la scuderia" sign on and we chow there. man, it's some righteous food, the best chow of the tour yet. also the most for me. it's a few courses of grilled sea bass, giant skinny crawfish, calamari, octopus, veggies, ravioli w/shrimps - damn, I'm about to burst when claudio has meet chow dessert (I 'pert-near never have dessert) which is dipping some cookie-like cake into a yellow wine. the boss comes out to talk w/us, he's coming to the gig later as are the cats at the next table who are rolling joints. whoa, that's trippy. no mota for watt before a gig though, I can't remember any of the parts to the tunes. claudio and carlos engage in some spiel regarding eating meat w/claudio talking of the industrializing of it as opposed to it coming straight from the farm as in the older days and carlos saying there's bigger decisions to look at w/what you got choice w/but they do come to a consensus to respect each other and aren't at each other's throats. that's what friends are for. it's been a while since they've seen each other, caludio had carlos come and stay in italy years ago. time for the gig now.
neo does their set and it's great. not only manlio but bassman fabrizio sits in a chair - he mainly slaps and is happening at it. antonio is a great drummer, whoa! such musicianship here from the italian brothers! they have a good time playing it too, lots of laughs and emotions. bravo! then it's time for us. well, there's some sound problems, huge feedbacks w/lower-mid stuff and for the first time I have to stop the piece to relate this to gabriel cuz it's just overwhelming everything and this makes me sad - why couldn't I just soldier through it. seems like hardly anything's coming out of my mouth either and I don't think this is an equipment problem, my nerve is shot and my confidence nowhere - it's gotta be worse than the slovenian gig, the worst yet of the tour. the audience is really happening, folks sitting up front but I am doing a piss-poor job. aaaarrrrrrgggghh, am I hating myself so at the moment - I want to crumple up so tiny and just blow away. last night I was thinking how bad could I do a gig and to my disbelief I'm finding myself actually trying to realize that. it's not on purpose, it's just lameness - even after all the years of gig after gig. man, is this an embarrassment. in front of carlos and claudio too. somehow, we get through it and have a pow-wow backstage as I talk about REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS like stage volume when I stank it up really bad w/the mealy-mouth weak shit. man, am I mad at myself. the folks want some more which I can't figure really so we do a couple and then I pack up quicker than you can imagine and get to the boat and have a REALLY BIG THINK about it all. man, if that seat could swallow me right up, I would not be sad w/that... let me tell you. no joy in mudville, all called strikes tonight. I keep thinking what the fuck is wrong w/me, what the fuck is wrong w/me, what the fuck is wrong w/me... I know there's gonna be nights like but I do not dig knowing that, I do not dig having to go through it and I do not like letting people down! but you know, who really would?! aahh, to have to chimp this in this here diary but I just feel I just have to. WHOA, DID I DO BAD TONIGHT! you know, to keep a little sane and not totally freak out, I can't start analyzing it too much but instead promise myself to soldier on the best I can. this was a self-soiler for sure.
carlos is leaving w/claudio for rome so big hugs bye first to him and then claudio. I tell them both I'll do better next time and I'm so sorry for tonight - much, much gratitude to them for all they've done for me over the years and I owe them so much. aarrgghh, I am truly prostrate w/my weak self. I have to laugh though too w/all the ridiculousness of my freak and wig outs. doubts open big pockets in me, pry them wide w/all they got and damn if it don't feel like I'm hogtied to grapple back in the moment. I will, someday - I'll develop some technique or have it better laid out to work w/but maybe something about this whole phase where I'm at is a crippler at getting it together. I have to ponder on all this. I can laugh now as I'm chimping it and trying to make some sense. maybe it's about that very act itself though, time now mercifully separating then (the moment of the gig/shaming) and now. ok, enough.
we load up the boat and then I follow antonio to his house away from the town in the country but not too far away, the stuff will be safer here. he's gonna bring me back to the apartment not too far from the venue and I'll konk w/my guys there. I try and put on a good face and not let me inside totally whup up on the inside. besides that, the adrenaline (what that there was) has run out and I'm slipping into old man mode, my body stiffening up much. the walk from the venue to the apt is stovepipe leg for me, big time. we get to the pad and I lay out on the deck. there's a little mota - not much mota for watt this tour and everyone says their good byes and all. I'm in a room w/out raul or paul... I never know what their night time routine is cuz even if I'm in the same room as them, I'm out quick 'pert-near as I'm through the hatch. you can't know how much a blessing that is tonight.
tuesday, april 26, 2005 - cannes, france
from dutch dude carlos:
I have to run to catch the train to the airport, it got me all sweaty grrrr. I tried to find a memory stick for the camera i bought for Monique, this airport has limited shopping fascillities, is this a good thing ?
Start your own band.
Start your own booking agency.
Last night it was so cold, like a dumbass i slept wit the window wide open. During the night i'd woken up to put on my hoodie, and stubbed my toe on what seemed to be a heater, great. It might of worked better if was actually plugged in, i didn't see that until the sun came up. No show tonight, just a drive day. There's still hurry, we gotta make it outta spain and into france, lots of miles. Antonio's not coming till noon, so paul finds the coffee maker and brews some up while we're waiting. Antonio has to pick us up, cuz last night watt left the van at his house. Total palmdale, minus the cookie cutter houses. The weather is very california, and it's a beautiful day. Paul took the first shift navigating, and i sat in the back and got started on the franklin biography Lots of reading and sleepin'. Both carlos and claudio suggested getting out of italy and make it into france, just alot safer in their opinion. Smart guys, so watt listens. Hugh drive comin' on us, two plus drive days. On the way we stop at a memorial for the cathers, a sect of unmarterialistic hard core christian martyrs from the north of france. From what it seems to me, they were accusing the other christians of worshiping false gods, and to the other christians they were the anti christ, so they came to france and slaughtered em' all, and i know there is alot more to the history, just not sure what exactly what it is, i did learn that the death of the cathers is where the word charthardic came from So, shoot to present times, a phallic shaped memorial on top of a hill next to the highway. On one side, a beautiful coast line view, on the other... tract homes. It's just nice to stop, stretch the legs. In the van it was hard for me to wake up, but once i got to walking around breathing some fresh air it got a bit easier. Lots more drivin', watts a madman, we left at noon, and didn't stop till about eleven at night, an hour of no drive time, counting stopping to piss, get fuel or eat... maybe. The coast line of france is pretty amazing to look at, and it's great to be near the water. That's the only time i start thinking about home, when were next to the sea. Over and over again, thru a tunnel, on the other side to the right, little villages hidden away in the valley, and to left, mountainous coast line down below. We had to drive thru atleast two hundred tunnels through mountains. We never do night drives, usually were at the gig, but tonight no gig. It's a treat to see this scenery as the sun goes under. Getting a hotel for the night was a feat in itself, something that seems easy enough, right... wrong. First place that we see off the freeway is called servotron, watt tell me about an automated hotel that him and baiza stayed at years back, just put your money in a machine. No people, that's kinda creepy. Anyway, with a name like servotel that's what were expecting. I think watts getting a little delirious from driving for ten hours straight, he keeps saying servotel, servotel over and over again in a cyborg kinda voice, total comedy. Even funnier, no rooms. Back on the highway, no flippin' hotels, and when there is, it's on the opposite side of the freeway, and there's no exits, or no way to get to the other side. Watts been behind he wheel for hours, and then this, total hotel taunt. We can see em', but it's impossible to get there, like a shitty twilight zone episode It's such a screwed up situation, that it's hard not to laugh, so things become funnier with every obstacle, until it's a laugh riot. Finally luck, we spot some hotels, and there on our side of the road. When the freeway lets us off we end up on the opposite side, what the fuck is with this place, it's pushing us in all the wrong directions. Screw it, were drivin' back, atleast we know we'll eventually hit something on this side. It doesn't take to long to find a place, very lucky too, the last room, and the man behind the desk was nice enough to let us all stay. That sounds weird, but in the states it's impossible to exceed limit in the room. Usually you gotta sneak everyone past the reception. I remember the jagoffs/ four letter words tour, we were playing with panty raid on our first stop in bakersfield, lots of folks, Plus the bands, there were atleast ten other people who made the drive. It made the show great, only two locals showed. It was in a boxing ring, yep, inside the ropes, So during the day it was a gym, and we couldn't stay. We found one room, and had to sneak fifteen drunk kids past the reception, so it is possible, but i don't wanna sneak, our room tonite is hilarious, guy said it was a double, but it had three little beds... right next to eachother.
We wake up and I start making a series of shots of espresso for us in the little one-hit percolator they use to torture americans. By the time we've all had a couple it's noon and Antonio is here to take us to the van which is parked at his house on the outside of town. And there it is waiting patiently for us in the driveway af a little Italian farm. I notice some plots of strawberries. We thank Antonio, the, by my count, 10,000,000 th great guy we've met on this trip and head for Spain.
Due to a "quirk" in the booking, our westernmost Spain gig follows our southernmost Italian gig. This is what is known in the lexicon as a "hellride" and one that Watt will not share. I believe he said that the driving was therapeutic for a relative of his in one of his stories, so maybe that's part of it. Whatever, at this point I'm so used to not driving it would kindof trip me out to drive. We head up the spine of Italy, passing the vineyards and the ancient villages perched on hills; now I have slept in one, and have some idea what it's like up there.
Mike never fails to crack me up when we drive by some horses and he says: "paard" which is horse in dutch.
We are leaving Italy, and some of the poisonous thoughts float around my head. It took me 46 years to get here, I'll probably never be back. How I'd love to show Hellin these places. Stefano said I could stay with him if we were ever here. Two plane tickets? But that would be an imposition. Who am I kidding. I think I would love to just live in one of those little villages with Hellin. But what would you do? Construction? Farm? You'd be miserable in a month. People always tell me that. Besides we have Adam to take care of now. Oh god I don't have the strength to take care of him for our whole life. Well you may have to. I can't even take care of myself. And then the inevitable thoughts of suicide.
The thoughts come like a train through my head and when they start, the good thoughts don't stop them, and no thoughts won't stay no. And a long drive with nothing to seems to give me a chance to think, not always good. I know, I wanted the diaries to have an arc, a plot, sick, exhausted, dejected musician comes to Europe, sees the Duomo and is healed. Well it can still happen. Two steps forward, one step back like I always say about civilization.
I also have moments where I think; "Anything you want," because the dark moments are followed by moments of perfect joy and calmness. Or: "I can handle anything with Hellin by my side" which I'm afraid to use because of Monkeyboy. And there's always just checking out: read a book and I don't exist, watch a movie and I don't exist for a while. But "anything you want" is probably the ultimate; even Christ had a moment on the cross, where he couldn't sustain it. 'Course he was under far greater duress.
We circle outside of Rome but get caught in traffic around Florence. As we creep by I get a last view of the Duomo dwarfing everything. Raul shows me the pictures he took and it's wierd, the beauty and the detail is captured but the scale is completely lost. Then we head toward Genoa on the coast. We don't see much Mediterranean but we do see the huge chunks of marble cut out of the mountains ready to be shipped all over the world. Then we curve to the west and as it starts to get dark we head toward Monaco and San Remo. I'm in the back by this time, reading a little Richard Meltzer and backing off the neckcraning for a while. The plan was not to drive in the dark but the plan was to make it to France so we push on. This is probably the most beautiful part of the drive except it's dark. Sea to the left, going through tunnel after tunnel as we go straight through the mountains around Monte Carlo.
Shortly after we come to the border of France. Mike is confident about finding a pretty cheap hotel, he says there's evern automatic ones with no reception. The first exit we try, they are full, the next hotels we see are on the opposite side and we can't seem to find our way over. We pull over at a gas station to ask and I get a good sandwich and they say next exit and so it is. I think we are actually in Cannes, yes that Cannes.
We get one room and are surprised that there are three little beds like the three bears but Mike prefers the floor.
I haven't been able to call home for over a week, or check emails for a while. We always seem to be moving. A coupla times I was looking longingly at payphones but we didn't have time. The best times to call are super early in the morning (late at night back home) or around dinner time (morning back home.) I miss my wife!
ok, these next two days don't have a lot of spiel from me cuz I put in some intense drive time. when we'd dock for konk, I'd be just too wore to chimp much and then when time for pop came, it was wheelworld for me once again so I apologize to anyone who must be insane enough to actually desire a fucking the usual two thousand words or so I usually chimp on gig day for a tour spiel. for everyone else though, it surely must be a relief, right? here's what I got for drive day one:
not only physically but emotionally I'm worn, what a beatdown to the spirit these last two lameass attempts at delivering the piece had done to me. I pop at ten which is really late for me and bury myself in chimping up last night's nightmare cuz I know I wont get much of a chance later. antonio comes and gets us at noon to bring us to the boat at his pad and we're off on our mission to spain. sunny warm weather for us as I wheel us back towards rome and florence, turning west to the italian coast and then onwards north to genoa. I'm gonna miss italy much, even w/half the gigs being suckass ones on my part this time - it's just gonna make me try that much harder next time. sure hope I get to see stefano again, there was lots I wanted to talk w/him about. I know he was next to me in the boat for my "lectures" or whatever but there was tons I wanted to learn from him and just incapable of wording my questions right. I know my spiel was challenging for him - the slang, abbreviations and all... I like folks to get their own spiels going and then cue them on stuff that's perking thoughts up in my head, something I've developed through my long time w/raymond pettibon and before that w/d. boon. man, how much I've learned from those two cats - tons and tons. I try the same w/'pert-near anyone I meet now, as much as I can soak up. some cats seem born teachers for me, it's trippy and hard to quantify into words. all I know is I feel myself filling up w/thoughts and that cascades responding ones inside me in turn, it's truly righteous - like a muse 'pert-near touching on me. we see the place where marble's mined from the hills overlooking the coast, this stuff has been shipped everywhere to be built into works all over the world for ages. there's tons of tunnels for us to go through and lots of grades so the going isn't that quick but it is beautiful. we go through genoa and I think of stefano again cuz this is where he's from. we talk of him much in the boat and what a great cat he was to have on board w/us. grazie mille, stefano.
we cross into france and pass monte carlo. dark's come on and we've rolled eight hundred klicks so I'm on the lookout for a konk pad for the night. we pass antibes - that's where the live recording of john coltrane's "a love supreme" we've been using for intro/outro music was done and I pull off, not realizing we actually have gone into cannes. we had stopped a few exits before by the 'tels there were all filled up, I'm feeling much for my guys who are obviously tired and wanna konk. such great fortune to find a pad not far down the road that has room and easy parking right out front. a nice man at the desk asks only ninety euros (cheap for these parts) and there's a cabin w/three beds but I take the deck. it's only moments after mask down for me to share w/my guys the unwanted snores they heroically endure. much apologies to them.
wednesday, april 27, 2005 - castro-urdiales, spain
Another day off, so that means another day of driving. Not a lot of france left, and then into the basque part of spain. The gaxiolas are basque, so i immediately think of them. It's trippy, the guy at the border was speaking spanish, but he looked very european... well, this makes sense, we are in europe, it's just not something that my eyes and ears are used to. The basque written word too, totally odd to the eyes. Lots of Zs' and some and some long spellings. The country side is beautiful, and it makes for good looking while driving. There hasn't been lots of down time to read, and i'm usually doing diaries while we drive, but i'm diggin' the franklin book, and i can't get myself to start typing. It's not the smartest thing, because i'm finally caught up, or was now i'm two days in the hole because i spent them reading instead. This seems to be a trend with me, atleast with the diaries... catch up so i can get behind. Usually this means one day of trying to remember, and doing three days in one. Lot's of stuff gets lost and forgotten, and this blows, plus it causes my entries to start sounding very generic because i'm just getting information across, it's hard to get the memories while i'm trying to get the moment.
The diary entries are so short on travel days! We're up and out at 8 a.m. we have punishing distance to travel, although two days to do it. I check the map thinking Mike might consider trying to do it in one hop and a whimper escapes me when I see how far it really is. I may just be used to kinda short drives, and it's a little hard to tell on this map book but it sorta looks like the whole thing is approaching cross country America. Maybe not,I don't know. Anyway we started late (noon) yesterday and wound up driving till about eleven, we started better today we'll see what we make it to.
France is a little newer looking, the accents are different. We see tract housing, something you don't see much of in Italy and Mike suggests that the French are moving south for the weather. Problem is they build their houses on the vineyards!
I remember on a previous tour, the shotgun guy was in charge of photos as well as navigation, as well as shoveling crackers and sardines into Watt's mouth as he drove. Now that position is much easier beacause there's no sardines, and because he takes his own pictures as he drives. This can be alarming and seemingly dangerous, I know Carlos was pretty disturbed by it.
From the freeway we see an enormous Cathedral at Narbonne, Mike pulls over at a modern little monument/park to the Cathars (medieval heretics annihilated by the first crusaders) and we stop at a rest stop overlooking Caracassonne which is a ridiculous walled city/castle/towers/turrets/Medieval-Times-but-the-real-thing, that I saw back in '80 with Nina. I say ridiculous because it is so big, and so intact it's like you're looking through a time tunnel to about 1250. Google: Cathars, Caracassonne, Narbonne Cathedral.
The morning is pretty bad; I mean it's asinine; I thought I had lost my sunglasses and that was capable of getting to me. That wasn't all of course, whatever
It's so funny how things work. Little bands I was in in the late '70s that had NO promotion are somehow known here, while bands like Leah Andreone that I played with in the mid 90's that got massive push are lost without a trace. I mean, we played Conan O'Brian! We played Madison Fuckin' Square Garden. She was ALL OVER alternative KROQ type stations across the country. And nothing. Lesson? It was cool meeting Conan O'Brian.
And I liked her music really. It really seems like these labels aren't doing artists any favors. But hey, if you want a quick ride, you save every penny they give you, I guess it can be fun for a while. I remember enjoying the experience, I hung out and argued with Jacob Dylan one night. I played with John 5 in Leah's band who later went on to Marilyn Manson; he was a great guitar player. I met my friend Miiko, a great bass player, in her band. I traveled, saw some nice places, stayed in some nice places. Course I would come home usually and take on gnarly construction jobs to make ends meet; don't think it was a magic carpet ride, more like total schizophrenia. But the mersh experience isn't totally negative to me. Mark Curry too got a huge push from Virgin; I LOVE his music. We toured, did a bunch of french TV. Major MTV push. At the time it seemed like so many people were being exposed to their music. But it's like we've been talking about with coercion. It just doesn't work in the long run somehow. It's pretty wierd though to have lived through. Here's a guy Mark Curry who was brilliant, on MTV every hour played for THOUSANDS, Canal + (French TV), I mean hyped big time it seemed like. And I haven't met anyone who's heard of him. And here's Darby Crash or Nervous Gender, who in their lifetimes never played a show for over 500 people, sold few records, shunned by mainstream media, to varying degrees still known. And to me, Mark Curry, Nervous Gender or The Germs are all dear friends I played with loaded with talent who took different paths and payed different prices. None of them are rich now though. Some of them are alive.
Did I forget to mention that the music industry is the antichrist, the belly of the beast, the grinding gear that squeezes out the final tear? Kills Mozart at the halfway point, strikes Beethoven deaf, REMIXES BEATLES ALBUMS FOR CD RELEASE (just read that in Meltzer, I fuckin' KNEW IT!) Destroys the love of music for the people who actually succeed!! Isn't that wierd? "Play the hit!" I'd love to go on a Meltzerian rant, it's so poetic, him and Kickboy, so self assured, such a well defined aesthetic, such critical continuity...it's so cool to be the angry righteous guy!!! But see: some people just sit down and out of their hearts comes some music that the beast says yes! to. They DON"T MEAN TO SUCK. (Man, I've done music that I didn't realize sucked till YEARS LATER, THEN what do tou do?) Not all of 'em are coming from the heart, but I swear, lots! They're innocents, they're not always sellouts. You make music, ya run it up the flagpole and then all hell breaks lose, LIFE happens and then whew! Some are dead, some are RICH, some are back working at kinkos, what're you gonna do. I have to say I remember sitting at a dinner table with some bigtime A&R guys and, yes, they were going on and on about porn, but I've heard super, cool alterna geniuses doing that too! Have I? Maybe not, but I have seen them behave badly. It's all just this endless parade, and what we say and write about it, and the stances we take, the artistic ideas, the revolutionary insights are just one more fuckin' TUBA player sometimes. Part of me wants to fix up one of these old Italian rock heaps, and I dunno, grow GOATS.
I put out six or seven records in 1987. Most everything I'm known for is from then or sooner. I WROTE AND RECORDED TEN ALBUMS WORTH OF MATERIAL IN THE 90"S THAT KICKS THAT SHIT'S ASS!!! Will anyone ever hear or care? I heard once that Ace Frehley records millions of songs and stuff all the time. Maybe he's another FRANK ZAPPA! What about the 1000 albums Prince supposedly has in the can. Is any of it better than the godawful crap I hear of his all the time? Or is his godawful crap BETTER THAN BEETHOVEN and I'm just a tasteless, no talent uncritical loser? Does anyone know anything? Is there a right and wrong when it comes to this crap or is it just who screams and cries the loudest, or who puts together the smartest sounding words?
Artists WANT to be digested. I mean, we want our music to be heard, even LISTENED to, most of us. There's this machine in place to help make it happen. Or is there? Is there just the opposite? At what point do you say no? At what point do you say no to any of it? My older son, Alex, has said he doesn't want to make enough money to be taxed EVER so he won't pay for weapons. He doesn't want to drive a car. He doesn't eat or use ANY ANIMAL PRODUCTS for a whole bunch of valid reasons. Are you prepared to go to the mattresses like THAT? I stopped making independent records. I had a suspicion it was all just for my ego, and I was costing indie labels money, SO I JUST MADE MUSIC FOR MYSELF for EIGHT YEARS! Is any of this good? Are there rules? How much isolation and alienation can you really stand, and how much of it really comes from inside you? How long can you be at war with the world, or with the giant forces or with the status quo? I had dreadlocks for 24 years, EVERY DAY I was at war on some instant, non verbal level. That war I have resigned from. I don't really know what I'm doing now, sort of the equivelant of putting daisies in soldiers rifles.
I can't picture myself ever existing comfortably within the music industry beast. Watt, amazingly, has been on a major label for 14 YEARS. So don't ask me. Ask the Beasty Boys or the Chili Peppers or Iggy, or a million other bands that the industry wanted, that ARE the industry now. It's not all evil by a long shot. I guess. Maybe.
Later: I move into the back seat, read, doze, let the scenery slide by. I wake up shortly before the border of Spain; the guy actually asks for our passports, but waves us right through. The first city is San Sebastian and it's crazy, tons of highrises, lots of construction, beautiful old stuff, mountainous and cliffy. Mike says it's a border town and dangerous but it looks pretty.
It's wierd I'm writing this the next day and my memories of the drive are so fuzzy. I'm able to remember all this stuff from our walks, but the drives just blur. I can hardly differentiate San Sebastian from Bilbao, big colorful explosive memories that we just crashed through. CRAZY fucking mountains hanging over the cities; once we leave the french coastline on the Mediterranean and start paralleling the Pyrenees it's absolutely stunning, snowcapped mountains like the Himalayas (which I've never seen), sheep with wool hanging like thick hair to the ground, it goes on like this all day while we cross France, then continues when we reach the Atlantic and dip into Spain. And I feel a little quickening when I see the Atlantic. I remember sitting in front of the club in Terrazino overlooking the town, gazing over the ocean at the setting sun and thinking: "that way lies home." And it was still sweet without a cig or a joint.
Spain is in building mode, and a lot of it seems to be condos, maybe resort timeshares or whatever for the northeners. Around seven or 7:30 we start looking for hotels and it takes a while they're full up but we eventually find one at a little town called Castro-Urdialles which is marked at the freeway by an enormous stripmined mountain. We wind down from the hiway stopping at a couple of fullup ho's, eventually pulling into a beachtown and have success. The room is nice, pretty cheap, good for three. Paul and Raul wanna wander, we been cooped in the van, Watt probably dead from all the driving. We take off, breathing for the first time in a while it seems and we're at the water in just a minute. The bay curves gently; one side marked by big cliffs lit up; it's nine when we leave but still twilight, why? Other side marked by a big looming fort and lighthouse with a walkwayround the waterfront, very nice for tourists. Driving in we just couldn't figure out the rows and rows of ten-story new apartments, do the miners live there? I don't think so. But now it's clear: mucho tourismo.
We walk along the water in the twilight and it's very romantic. Suddenly I guess Raul is just moved by the moment and he seizes my hand. Our eyes meet as the Spanish moon rises and suddenly we are in each others arms kissing passionately.
Not really, but I see a cash machine and decide without much hope to try to make it work. Of course I don't have the paper I have written the pin # on, but Raul is there, looking good, and together we take a crack at it. And money comes out! A flood of relief! I was down to my last ten Euros, with a reserve of about $30 and was starting to feel nervous under the surface without really knowing. I'm really feeling calm, bordering on joyous and it's not the hunsky in my pocket, it's the LIGHT and that ridiculous FORT/CASTLE/LIGHTHOUSE and the ATLANTIC and the GENTLE BREEZE the ALMOST DESERTED STREETS and it's having NO EMERGENCIES or loved ones in TERRIBLE SUFFERING and sure if we KNEW EVERYTHING we would FALL TO PIECES but HERE AND NOW it's OK.
We keep along the waterway and then head into the little oldtown; Raul is looking for a grocery, which is a good idea rather than getting rooked on $6 gasstation sandwiches but it's two days too late. We find a nice little 24 hour convenience store with reasonable food, magazines, videos/DVDs and especially important yummy looking pastries. Having scored some cash I splurge for a 95 cent chocolate monster and we happily scarf as we continue to look for a grocery store because all Raul will actually be satisfied it turns out is a can of cold beans. Hankerin'. We find the store at around 10:30 but it's closed; Raul's cool with it, so we just head on back to the hotel getting promptly lost. I had mentioned that maybe we should watch where we were going and hadn't, Raul had said we can't get lost in a little town like this but we do; it's not a terminal situation and we're probably back to the hotel by 11:30 looking forward to an episode of "Prisoner. " The plugs don't work though, another country another electrical paradigm, so I settle down to read some Alan Watts (I always read before sleep. My light won't work though so you know what I do?
I try to send Hellin messages with my mind!
pop at seven and hose off, my guys soon follow me out the boat. paul wants to eat chow but I'm not hungry so I tell him to go. he feels like that's lame of him but I tell him to please do it cuz I know mornings are hard for him. paul's been very worried about appearing sissified but I don't think that way of him at all. ok, we have different backgrounds but that's ok, that's life. now we're here in the moment and that's what counts. he's doing alright, really - I wish I could reassure him more about that. I get weird and need space lots of times, I don't live w/other people like him (and most people for that fact) and might seem a little craggy/crabby/crusty at times but it's not my intention for him to endure what he might feel is a personal slight or dig at his integrity. he's alright and doing good... I'm the fucking weirdo! thank god for his patience and tolerance for me. I can be difficult, he can ask his sister! much respect for her too, especially w/all the time she put into surviving such a lunatic and especially so too for having a band w/me the last twenty years. both roesslers have really big hearts.
we leave the coast for aix-en-provence to nimes, montpellier and then into cathar territory - narbonne, carcassonne and toulouse... around narbonne, my guys indulge me by letting us stop at a memorial built to the cathars and I take shots w/the digicamera of all the artwork they done up here. it's very intense on me, thinking about these people who got whupped on in what was the first "crusade" maybe (I've read it called that). for me it's yet another reason you don't put government w/religion. there's three towers in sort of human form fitted w/chains you can look out at some water stuff (you can also see on one side these track homes going up - there's a lot of that happening as we drive through southern france, something I'm used to in the u.s. but it's kind of new over here) and of course the smell like piss cuz well, people have pissed in them but I'm still glad I went up in them. we get on over to the atlantic side of france and into bayonne, coming up on the pyrenees right near where the tour de france does their leg of that intense bicycle race there. I can only imagine being strong enough to do that course, let alone compete in it. though I love pedaling, I am not an athlete at it. I'm glad I don't use the same seats these guys use either - shit, it might've led to the sickness that almost killed me and led to the making of this piece were doing here. the one I use these days I found on the internet and it has only two pads for holding your ass where the back pockets would be on a pair of levis - nothing to fuck w/your johnson or those parts near. you can tell snow comes down around here and maybe just a month ago but now w/the blue skies, the only snow you can see now is like when the air's clear enough back home to see mount baldy - at a distance.
from banyonne we cross the spanish border into spain and the border guard asks for the passports but only looks at raul's - sorry raul. no problem though, "buenas dias" says the man w/the machine gun. the border cats all tour have been very nice w/us. of course the e.u. thing now makes things easier too that way. san sebastian is an intense border town, way dustiny from full-bore construction. massive building underway here. the peages (road tolls) in france were pretty massive, bigger than italy though there were bigger than here in spain but for me it's understandable - those that use the roads should be paying for them and nothing like maintenance to make things safe - I guess I'm kind of biased that way cuz of my work but europe's got good roads as far as these autobahns/autostrades/autoroutes and what they call them here, autovias. not just for bands on tour but it's a reason you can see a truck from estonia way out here in spain.
950 klicks is enough road for today though and just west of bilboa, I pull over to look for a konk pad. the first four have no room but there's a great room for three at sixtfour euros in castro-urdiales, a little town right at the seaside. my guys go to look for chow on foot while I have a great beef stew that first came w/a huge salad w/tuna and green olives in it. really good comidas. again, nice hotel people. I'm alone on the deck in the dark ready for konk, all wore out and animosities start brewing up in me - can you believe it? shit, I get a hold on myself: "watt, you let those go and konk will come easy." I do and konk comes.
thursday, april 28, 2005 - oviedo, spain
It's been two days off, i can't wait to play tonight... first show in spain. Once we get to town, we kinda pull the same thing that we did in terincina. We drove around for a few trying to figure out where to go. At a red light, paul jumps out at a music store to ask for directions, aww, i need a drum key, but stopped at a traffic light is not the best time to go shopping. While were waitin' for paul to get the destructions, watt spots the place right in front of us about a block up, some lucky shit. It's not your normal club, actually it's not a club at all, it's the philharmonic music theatre or something. It's a hugh building a block long and wide, it's connected to a bank and a museum that's doing an exhibit on american splendor. Looks like finding parking could be a nightmare, but i'm proved wrong, we luckily got a spot right next to the our entrance. We've already loaded the gear in, but the sound check won't be for another two hours, so like most days, i'm off to check out local life. I don't think it's really local life, more like local business, and tons of outta town shoppers, it's like a hugh outdoor mall, looks like lots of money is everywhere. I haven't walked around to much, and i'm feeling pretty beat, i think some caffeine is in order. Food might be the way to go, i haven't eaten much in the past few days, but you ever get so hungry, that your appetite is completely gone, and nothing sounds good, and even though you should, you have no desire to eat, well that's me today. Maybe it's always just me, cuz that does sound pretty weird, so hungry that you can't eat, what's that all about. Anyhow, besides everything being bought and sold, it's a beautiful place to walk around, really old cathedrals, and beautiful architecture.
It's a free show, part of a month long festival this place is holding, i think we're the only punk band t be playing it. Lots of theatre, orchestra, the finer arts, things like that. The room is a theatre itself, that holds two hundred plus seats... Movie time. Earlier, before i took off we had set up, so everything was ready to go. We're the only band going on tonight, and there's a curfew, so we're on by eight thirty. Around six, after sound check, i went over to the room to kick back until the show, i was restless within' fifteen minutes, so had to head back out in search for something, usually it's the public art that interests me. Not to much around where were at, or if there is, i can't find it. I do find a little part of an old town though, i love walkin' around these small cities. Im sure it would probably drive me nuts to live in a place like this, all the people from outta town in my space, it'd piss me off. But for today, i'm one of those folks, so just be respectful, and try to stay outta the locals way. I was with paul, but he dropped out half way thru, and i had to finish the journey solo. split in a direction i hadn't been, this time i'll find the sign of vandals somewhere... nope. I walked for miles too. I got a little time left before we gotta go on, and right in front of the building is round about island with a big fountain and lots of benches... good place to be alone around lots of people.
When i go back to the show, it looks like no one's there, turns out the entrance is on the side of the building, and the place is gonna be packed, everyone is just outside waitin' to get in. It's all very orderly, people lined up out front, led in to take their seats, and watch the band. I'm nervous, but not as weirded out like at the other recitals, i'm just happy to be playin' again. Right before we go on, i met uri, he's our spain guide, and he's gonna be a part of us with the next few days... seems real likable right from the start, i think he'll fit in just fine. Show went pretty good, i actually liked the atmosphere in the room too, it was real comfortable. I did notice a couple of girls split halfway thru the set, americans, i knew because i had over heard em' talkin' about some highschool drama shit in the park earlier, and i recognized them as they bailed... pretty funny, not mtv enough. During the midle of the set, abunch of people started clapping to the beat of the snare, or i should say, trying to. It was so off time, it was hard to keep time myself. During a break i had to put my hands up, and get everyone in the same rhythm, that got a laugh. Pretty cheese, i'm up there clappin' along to the beat, but it was better than a bunch of people off beat, they weren't even in time with themselves... weirdness. For not playin' for a couple days, we did good. I did do alot of walking today, but the two days before were total rest, and i think it helped, i was starting to get sore, and too tense. Sometimes i'll find myself feelin' real uncomfortable, and then relize i'm just all balled up, like almost adding to the pressure, my teeth will be clenched, and all muscles tight, it's not good, gotta learn to relax. I still havn't eaten today, and now it's eleven at night. I thought maybe i'd go out after the gig and find something, no way, the only places open are bars, and there all crowded with supermodels of both sexes... not my scene, so I'll just wait till morning.
Did I mention that the Northern/Atlantic coast of Spain is wildly beautiful and exotic? It seems like it's a booming tourist area, is it THE hip retirement/Miami Beach gettaway for rich Northeren Europeans? But there are still beautiful unspoiled deserted beaches with no houses, no cars, no hotels just that old deserted church over there almost tumbling into ruin but still beautiful and kept up inside???!!! Wow.
We're up and out before nine; there's just enough food and coffee to sate me for a drive, muffins, little prosciuto sandwiches. As I allude above, it's ALL good on the drive and I'm feeling that calm that I need to advertise the same way I advertise the craziness because we take feeling good for granted. The only real madness was lying in bed awake but still prone, it happens often; I think, I huddle, I tremble in fear, all I need to do is get up and the wonder of the world will begin to intrude on my closed little mind but I am too exhausted, too wounded, too far down to ever climb back...no I'm not, I'm fine, but I'll just lie here awhile and cringe in terror why not? Long ago I remember lying in bed lazily, utterly content like a cat, those days are over. Now, y'might as well start movin' cause ain't no pleasure to be had snoozin'.
Later: Just got off the PHONE FROM YOU. Used every minute of the friggin' card c'est le vie. Wow. We like each other, it's fucking wierd. We went through all that shit, and we're like fuckin' newlyweds, fuck, we're like HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS, laugh all you want world, maybe we found one of the meanings. Y'know that old saw, we're all ultimately alone, well yeah in some existential sense, in some fundamental sense, but y'know what? Being ultimately alone means we live in our own solitary illusion, and if two people, year after year, smash their illusions into each other, smash em and smash em till they finally sorta MELD....if they inflict enough pain and damage on each other till they're so broken and destroyed that they can't take another step alone, and they collapse into each other's arms and just go fuck it, I forgive what I perceive as your shortcomings, you've demonstrated and forgiven MINE. I'll relinquish the ILLUSION OF SEPERATENESS and INDEPENDENCE and just be your husband and/or wife. Some of you recoil in horror but I heard no less than JOHN FREAKIN' LILLY (look him up if you don't know who he is) perform a marriage ceremony and say that a marrriage suggests the DIAD taking PRECEDENCE over the MONAD (more recoiling) and I dunno I just think it might be pretty advanced. I know the Christ was talking about love of God when he talks about love, and I know the Budda says attachments the root of all suffering, but on some level love is love and all is God so fuck it, I'm pretty lucky that's all I can say.
And I know alot of people go for it and it turns into a big mangled mess and I'm so sorry, there were ugly ugly events, and hours and hours of heart stopping pain, I know for me and probably for her too, just stoned disappointment, letting each other down in the heaviest ways, till there's no lower to go, no more let down to be let, and then we're standing there face to face all the broken shards of our lives, and twisted burnt bodies, and tears and blood and we're looking at each other and we're still there, we haven't left and we realize Oh My God this person really loves me, nothing I fucking do can make them go away, and you finally start being good to each other.
I know these things for me and her, may your path to it be easier, but may you find it nonetheless.
Hellin is wrestling with the twisted rusted steel that is the frame our life is draped over, it is hard hard hard and she's standing tall through the heaviness. There is no happy endings believe me, there's always a tragedy around the corner, c'mon you know it, but right now we're tackling them together. That's it.
That's what Manlio and Marco say at the end of their songs: "That's it!"
With all my whining, and suffering over things that HAVEN"T HAPPENED, can you IMAGINE how I would deal with like, a leg amputation or something, one of those things that MILLIONS deal with daily? I've got to get it together.
SO! The north of Spain, deserted beaches, rugged coastline, towering snow capped mountains, quaint villages and churches, huge stinking factories, strip mined cut in half hills, farms, sheep, Eucalyptus trees, Yes! Wierd. And resort's. I'm navigating when I screw up and drop us into a Venus Fly Trap called San Something, Santander?; it's an amazing harbor town, absolutely beautiful, but tough to escape from. We finally exit, NO help from street signs it seems. Mike is very calm and patient; he's done a he-mans job of driving us the 1500 miles or clicks, something like that. Y'know I just need to learn to be an anonymous member of the team, I want to, but sometimes I AIN'T DOIN' IT; I just don't know. I'm a middle aged guy with a bunch of "lookit me" in me.
So there's alot of oohing and ahhing on the drive, I can't remember, and it happened a few hours ago. I tell you something wierd happens to the mind in a car!
We pull into Oviedo around one or onethirty and it's cool, It doesn't seem as ancient as Italy but....lets see Italy is like around 1500 -1580, Spain is more like 1700-1750 (dates approximated by numbskull.) Also cool is we have no address for the club. Hmm. But we have the name of the club, and it's not a club, it's a BANK it turns out, although we don't know that yet. This is part of some kind of festival, the audience gets in free; I had asked Mike about it but he seemed to get kinda irritated so I let it drop. Anyway, we just calmly drive toward el centro like we usually do, it's not that fun driving, but hey we're in SPAIN; we ask a cop he tells us make three rights and we do; we pull over in front of a music store; I run in to ask inside and they say yeah, it's right in front of you, and it's right in front of us. Do those run on sentences bug you? Why? It's how I talk, I'm sure. I haven't really settled on whether to just link 'em up with endless commas, I know that's wrong, or to use this thing ;;; semi colon, or you can use elipses... I used to use those... for some reason I'm not into them anymore. If I want to have pretensions of writing I'm probably supposed to be consistent...ho hum. Watt suggested I start using qwerty. Yeah right, Mr. Perfect. He types thirteen times as fast as me, sometimes I'll forget, like, where J is. Or others. Right now sea gulls are FREAKING outside.
We pull around this tall building with a clocktower on top and the words Cajastur on it, I get out and run in and a guard shows me using a pack of cigarettes, that I want to go to the opposite side of the building (No English! My pidgeon Spanish!) We pull around forlornly, being a couple hours early, pull over, and a guy magically appears, no English again! but this is the place and we load in. It's a 200 capacity sit down theater, totally wood panelled. Wierd, could be nervous time, under a microscope sorta y'know? people sitting like that? Now we gotta park the van, the guy says by the parque, we wander around and find a spot; it takes heavy mental energy to understand how to get the parking ticket from the machine on the corner. I tell Mike :"This must be what it's like to have like a 70 IQ, everything just no entiendo" but he didn't think it funny, and I don't think it funny now either. So we gotta bit of time to kill, Mike really wants to do diaries, he's behind with all the driving, so me and Raul go looking for coffee.
And find it! And my sobriety is a sham, hanging by the merest of technicalities, because we order two double shots of espresso and we could have just as easily been snorting cocaine. Whatever. Bucked me right up. Raul has me pour the second double over ice; that does something. The city is nice, some smaller churches very ornate, lots of shops, I'm looking for stamps to send postcards, we enter a mall. I don't know, it's neat, livable, not overwhelming. We return to the club, and it's a beehive of activity, there are count 'em, NINE guys scurrying around. Javier is the soundman, a guy from Cuba till he was thirty; I ask him: "Beautiful country, ey?" and he just shakes his head and says: "Bad government". So y'see I'm always trying to get a fair and balanced view, and maybe not everything our government tells us is propaganda. Yes it is, but some of it can be true. Propaganda can definitly be true. Important.
We check, and do Red & Black twice. First time good. Second time a terrible low frequency howl developes, like a fighter jet in the next room. I hope it sounds more like the first time. We are offered to be taken to the hotel. Mike wants to stay and write. I want to stay with the team. Well I say I do, whatever, that's a start. So in a few minutes Raul and I go check in, it's super close, and very nice, we all got rooms. Life is so very good. And every day Jerry crouches in the booth he gets stronger, and every day I have my own hotel room I get weaker, and I am weak weak weak old old old and feeling pretty good about stuff. I start to go down to call Hellin, turn right out of the hotel and am instantly in some real oldtown. I go back up to show Raul, and he comes down with me, we walk a bit, and he leaves me at the phone booth. I call Hellin and it is so good. See Above.
Return to room and shortly get a call from Uri, promoter who will be accompanying us for Spain. Fine. He asks if I want to go get a little food. The show is in an hour so I can't see eating much, he says Mike wants to stay and write so we'll bring some food in. I meet him in the Hotel lobby he's a wirey hyper guy with one complete sleeve (tattoo y'know?). Raul is still out walking; we go to a bar and get tapas. I don't know exactly what constitutes Tapas, but it's a coupla different things and we get it while I watch the bartender do the dramatic pour that goes with their cool local drink Cidere which sounds like Cider to me, I dunno. He holds the bottle high, the glass low, pours it over a bucket to catch the slop and that apparently gives it a milky fizz. Then we head to the club with about 25 minutes before we play.
Raul and I make each other nervous backstage over the formal state sponsored setting, I've got a few little butterflys and he has plenty. But we go out and do pretty good, I still want to cut loose and soundman be damned; ROAR, that's pretty fucking childish, Mike holds us somewhat in check, and it's probably a very good fucking thing. The Opera gets some big applause at strategic points, I'm suffering a little cause the sound is spongey, and I can't tell if I'm playing accurately or not to tell you the truth which probably means somewhat not. When you hear yourself super loud and clear, inaccuracies are downright embarrassing, and you expend major energy to avoid 'em, when it's a big spongey mess and you can't tell, you let up a little, no matter how you try. At least that's sorta what it felt like up there tonight, I tried but it was really hard, I didn't make more than a couple of nastys. There's no merch selling tonight, Raul stands in one place and hands out stickers, I stand in another and we send them off with hootpage and burntchurch invitations; and pack up and leave fast back to the hotel, rather pleased with ourselves.
There's a change in the living arrangements brewing at home, Hellin's really goin' thru a ringer. Well baby, we'll go through it together. Maybe it's time for us to put on some backpacks and travel Europe. HA! I have a couple of friends, in Geneva, Brussels, Bologna, Rotterdam, Torrino, Croatia, She has relatives in Poland, England. It's startin' to sound better. Could I be that fucking irresponsible? Or is that responsible? There's trains. There's youth hostels. Are there middle age hostels?
When the frigging MINUTEMEN did a vid, you knew it was completely over.
-Richard Meltzer (C'mon Richard, not COMPLETELY over?!?!?!)
pop at eight bells. I know I slipped totally under well before midnight so this was a long konk ofr me. probably needed it much though. this w/out a gig in two days too. my first thoughts are of the boat and since I soaked filth from me last night, no need to hose down now. my shirt's been up on a hanger all night after washing it in the sink last night but it's still kind of wet, must be some damp air. fuck it, I'm wearing it anyway! it is seeming to get duller in its blueness, maybe all the sink scrubbings are washing out the color. I'm committed to wearing it every gig of this tour though (remember what iggy told me last summer: "hey, it's like we're in a cartoon") so however it gets is however it gets. maybe it's like a dorian gray thing or something, somewhat allegoric? clothes are funny but uniforms are funnier. anyway, my thoughts are of the boat being safe so I haul ass down to check on it, bags in hand to stuff in it if it is and to my big time relief, it's ok. well, I mean it hasn't been broken into and there's no donates cuz it's not all the way ok - I can see that aft starboard tire is low again, that motherfucker must have a slow leak. ok, first pad I see w/air gets us stopped there and that tire pumped back up. I go back to the 'tel and have some coff... "solo" asks the man behind the counter - I guess that means just coff but they're little ones (not as strong as the italian little ones though) so I have a couple. they got these tiny rolls w/cheese and ham ('pert-near looks like dried-out raw bacon) on a plate on the counter and next to that a plate w/olives, pimento, a mild chile and anchovy on a toothpick so I stuff one of those in a roll/sandwich and chow that, tripppy flavors and I can dig that. my guys come down the stairs. paul seems to always come on in this way that's most irritating on me and though it's not his fault, but I wish he'd just start talking or act like we're in the boat and just guys and not all doe-eyed and at the same time fiending on his coff and the sugar unpacking and stirring ritual he gets so into - I'm not his wife doing the morning greet after sleeping w/him. it's weird and very unnerving. it must wig him out in how I act too but I'm mostly not having to work at putting myself asleep at night either. we are definitely very different people about these kinds of things and so be it. more like me is raul who is on when his switch is on. so is life. it's tour that makes tiny stupid shit like this grating on the nerves, insanely weird but I've been aware of it for all my days at it. it's nothing personal, it's something that's surely a shortcoming but I do acknowledge it and to keep it in check, spend as little time as possible in these very difficult for me moments. I don't need to be around people constantly, even guys I love and care for, guys that are helping me deliver this piece I strongly feel is what I have to play at least sixteen more times. even though raul's much younger, he's got a way better take on this "buffer space" than paul but maybe that's cuz he lives w/room mates. can you imagine watt w/a room mate though? aaaahhh!!! no disrespect for paul, I just cannot be around him in the morning and even at any chow 'pert-near. I'm glad raul can keep him company.
on our way out of town to the autovia (they're equivalent of our freeway/turnpike), we stop by the tiniest locomotive they've put on display like a monument, whoa - the weels are like a foot in diameter! the way the mountains come right up to the sea here - the huge mining operation that sliced up the mountain near here probably used little choochoos like this in the old days. we talk about all these new pads going up and how they're all oriented towards the sea - this can't be for the guys doing the mining or at this belching refinery the valley before it can it? paul knows something about time-sharing pads cuz of his dad doing it and thinks maybe these stuff is for germans and english people on a vacation thing w/them, turismo. right beforethe weather is warm and cloudless but not sweaty, it reminds me of my pedro town in someways w/the atlantic ocean instead of the pacific, I get the homesick twinge that comes on me sometimes... we find a gas station and raul helps me air up the lameass leaky tire and paul does a good scrub up on the windshield. spring here like in the u.s. brings on the bugs and their bodies filth up our world window much. the fucking autofocus on the little digicamera has a rough time thinking maybe this crud is what I want pictures of. thank you, paul! though not as many tunnels as the northwest italy route, we got some as we go through instead of around or up and down. we pass through laredo (maybe the origianl one?) and then paul misreads the map (he's on the wrong page of the northern coast of spain) and tells me to avoid continuing on to oviedo (which is where the road sign was directing me) and into santander. no big deal, we take a tour of the harbor. big time turismo here, there's an old crane that must've been used for dock work but it's like a museum piece now w/a plaque by it along w/benches. it's very pretty here, very nice. the trees are pruned up like the way I've seen a lot in europe which is 'pert-near no leaves and the branches not even left very long. weird but there must be a reason. speaking of weird - I just thought of some traces of dream I had last night, george hurley's brother gregory was in it, I think paul must've mentioned him sometime during yesterday's driving... so strange to me what goes into a watt dream, they seem to always combine something from the recent awake period and then something from memory. anyway, we're kind of lost and taking the tour of santander's harbor but I'm not fretting or upset but paul kind of is, maybe feeling responsible but I tell him not to worry, this is why we leave early and give ourselves enough time to take in account adventures like this - it's ok. we'll find our way back to the autovia and eventually we do. back on track for ovieda, the road for some klicks turns into a smaller divided road and we're rolling through little villages built on cliffs and playas by the sea. even the beatdown buildings seem neat, like they're out of a painting. you can see why people would vacation in these parts. there's a huge national park called picos de europa but we have to turn toward oviedo cuz that's where the gig is.
the venue's name is centro cultural cajastur so I'm thinking it's maybe in the town's center and so head for there. pretty downtown, very tiny streets and not so tiny traffic plug to go w/it but we do get upstream in it - I show a policeman directing traffic (since I'm stopped right in the intersection w/him next to my open window) the name of the venue on the itinerary and he directs me to loop around and then through where we are now towards the park. I do like he says and head alongside the park towards what looks like oviedo's main square and see a music shop on my starboard, bring the boat up halfway on the sidewalk and have paul run out and ask for help. as he's in there, I'm looking through the windshield and then "bam" - just like in terracina, I see the name "cajastur" on this bigass building right in front of me, just down the block. I honk for paul to get back in cuz there's a bus coming and people at a bus stop in front of me w/"what the fuck" faces and head down to the square (w/a modern sculpture of naked folks standing in unity) and let paul out once more and he says the venue is in fact here and the load-in is in the back. damn, we did it again! trippy about shit like this, huh? I get the boat back where it's supposed to be and we load out, then I park the boat a few blocks up the road, past the park. there's some righteous flowers in this park (the sign says "el campo san francisco" so maybe that's what was here at one time?) and I take some snaps as I walk through it. man, some peace here too, even w/traffic all along it's periphery, I can dig it. wish I could just konk out here! I get to the venue and am led to the dressing rooms downstairs - this is a fancy hall, like something at a school but not too big. I chimp diary cuz finally I have some time to catch up, it's been over 2100 klicks total from terrecina (1300 miles) and I drove them all - hard to chimp when you're at the wheel. so glad we had those two days w/out gigs! my guys are out roaming about somewhere but I'm sure they're ok.
after a while, we do soundcheck w/javier - like six guys are on stage setting things up and there's very little english spoken by them but enough to get things together, everyone's very nice. jorge's the boss here and I get a call from uri, the cat who's going to travel w/us here in spain - he's coming from bilboa but I have him call dutch dude carlos to call me cuz I got a plan for getting to england after these three gigs. my plan is to take an overnight ferry from the french coast so we can konk there and not have to make a hellride to calais for the chunnel (the train that takes you under the english channel) and somehow find a konk pad and cross that way monday morning. I ask carlos to look into that. he's in london to see chan play and we talk about my "mike watt + the machinerymen" idea - he thinks it's a good one and maybe I should also tell some spiels, like ray davies does these days. what chan is doing is brave (playing by herself) and it gives me confidence to someday try my own solamente thing. uri comes and brings me some tapas which is a spanish chow of little things on bread like fried calamari, pimento chilies, potatoes and other things I can't identify but taste great. uri's an intense young man but funny too - he's a tripper. he says he's 'yaked some, they call it a piragua here. seeing the atlantic these last few days has really made me hanker for a fucking paddle in my hands, big time! steady, watt...
no opening band tonight and we're on at 8:30. I chimp diary 'til I hear the john coltrane intro music playing and then talk w/my guys, telling them we're playing after two days off but it can still be a good gig - we just gotta hold tight and stay w/each other, play off each other and not get lost inside our own individual little worlds. we gotta make the word "band" mean just that. everyone's in fancy padded seats and the pad is full. we do the piece - aaarrrgggghh, the acoustics are terrible, a low mid-range very much wanting to bogart but we knew that at soundcheck. we keep the volume in check which is paramount in this sitch and I think we do pretty good. what a bounceback for me after two shitty shows. I much grateful to raul and paul helping me out here - I know they try every night and I'd never blame them for my weakass shit but they deserve an extra thank you above what I owe them always cuz of their selflessness and solid work tonight. the folks watching were great to play for too, very cool people w/no yammering and all attention. one cat yells "big train" but my guys don't know that one so we give them just three of our fastest encores cuz curfew is 'pert-near on us.
I thank everyone involve - uri introduces me to his partner carlos (both of them work for my old friend unai who first brought me to spain seven years ago) and we talk some, good people. I'm just so relieved I didn't choke. a little while and we pack up the stuff to leave for here (we'll pick it up in the morning) and then walk to the 'tel which isn't far - my guys were there earlier, seems they like doing that. I'm not used to 'tels so don't really get into that and show up just for konk time. the desk lady gets my paperwork done and I ask about something here in the newspaper on the desk. there's a little story that says a false alarm had the u.s. president hide in a bunker. it's hard for me to get much news on tour cuz my day is full of tour life and I need to focus on that. the desk lady says it's hard to know what it's like for someone to live where I do, they just get images - "mel gibson in a movie" but I say he's from somewhere else first... 'pert-near everyone's from somewhere else somewhere down their line. we're not all that different in some ways, really. we go through trends like people everywhere must go through trends. I hope we can survive it all somehow. I am tired big time and must konk so I go up to my room and do just that.
friday, april 29, 2005 - bilboa, spain
From my room i have a view of the back of an old store front, i'm almost level with the roof. On the roof, there's a bunch of cats living there, big one and little ones, so before i get some food in the gut, i take a bunch of pictures of the scene, damn, i sound like an old lady... taking pictures of cats... whatever. We made plans with uri to meet back at the theatre at eleven. I was up at seven for somee grub. I had told myself that after food i'd go back out and check out the rest of the city that i didn't see... body was havin' none of that, i ended up going back to sleep till ten, what a loser. With the little time i had left i went and walked around the park, and hung out in the center of town checking out all the people. There were these statues everywhere with really oversized body parts, especially the legs and butts, there was even one that was just legs and ass. Well to pass the time i was taking pictures of the tourist taking photos in front of these giant rumps, pretty funny stuff, to me atleast. These people go home, and frame these pics on their wall of them posing in front of big asses. Look honey, here's me in spain, oh what's that, well it's me, posing in front of a big ass. From were i was sitting i could see everything, i watched watt pull the van around, so i knew he was already waitin' for us, and i watched paul turn the corner on his way to meet up with the us. It took awhile to get the gear out, the dude was just on his phone, i was thinkin' maybe he didn't have the keys, and he was makin' calls to get em', nope, just busy doing somthing else. Finally, gears out and uli shows soon after. It's cool havin' a forth member in the van, especially someone from the region, diffrent prospective, and it should help with directions. Watt asks him lots of questions about the franco days, when italy was a facist dictatorship. He can't remember much, but he does remember the police always being around, him and his older brothers would call them the grey men... pretty scarey sounding. First things first, uli wants to know who wants to have a good smoke, cuz he sure does. We're all kinda nerveous, being visitors in someone elses country, we don't know the rules of the road. He tells us it's no problem, if we get stopped by the police, they'll realize that we're not from spain, and let us go, the cops are stupid he says... maybe so, but ya right, c'mon, what cop pulls you over, and when you can't speak the language he lets you off, that sounds kinda silly if ya ask me, i'd be alot more afraid of the cops if i didn't know what was going on.
Today there is a bit of backtracking going on, we had passed thru bil bao on the way to ovieda, and also had a little tour of satander, and today we're gonna go back to have some lunch with a friend of watts in satander. It's hot as hell, i got the sun beating down on me thru the side, and all the windows are rolled up... total lack of air. I gotta strip down to my skivvies, and break out the cast aways... cut off shorts. Well, this turned out to work against me in the long run, cuz andreas, took us out to, well i guess it was a yauht club, super ritzy, and i'm dressed in an old pair of cut up pants with paint splatters all over em'. We were all so outta place, he was wearing a suit for fucks sake, it's all pretty funny. Rich families having there daily brunch on the water front, and four scum bags come strollin' in. The fourth being uri, okay, i shouldn't speak for everybody else, but i'm sure the vote among the patrons was unanimous...scum bags. The waiter made uri take his hat off, i was suprised they didn't give us dinner jackets at the front door. Regardless, the food was killer, satander is a port town, so it's more great sea food,and it's the same deal, it's all in courses, here it's hella fancy, so it makes more sense, in the way that supposedly that's the way to recieve a meal. I usually mix it all together, and see what the combos' taste like. Before we hit the road, andreas gives us his personal tour of the port. Watt can't get over the old style cranes that are used.
Getting to the club isn't to hard, but uri likes to meet the locals, so he has to ask someone on everyblock. The first dude he asks happens to be a cop, the hashed out dude talkin' to the cops out of the window of a dutch van with an american band inside, asking for it, the cop was helpful, and sent us the right direction. Went thru about five diffrent people. One guy had the wildest hair cut, like seven diffrent styles. Mullet with one side shaved, the top colered, he had bangs and a dookie dread stickin' out the side... he looked confused. Uri was having a great time stickin' his head out the window talking to folks in cars, on the strret, he liked meeting new people he said. Playing a bar with a local band, i can't remember their name, i know i suck, they sounded like early ninties mtv rock. Their drummer, mike saved my ass by givin' me a drum key. It's been impossible for me to find a store to pick on up, and when i pulled the floor tom outta the case it looked like someone had slashed it, pretty shitty. When i got the kit, it also came with extra heads, which is cool, but i have no way to change it. the key i brought from the states won't fit. All tour, this particular drum has been givin us feed back problems, so now is a good chance to tune it proper... to bad i don't know how. It takes me a while to get it, and i gotta keep asking dude for his key. He probably got sick of me asking, and just decided to give it up, but i still appreciate it lots. Good, energetic gig, and just like i llke, a low stage so the people are real close. Ther's a good vibe, and i don't feel like people are waitin' for me to start fuckin' up... damn i sound parinoid. Some shows though, the crowd seems to work against you, and sometimes they can be so supportive, it puts a whole diffrent feeling in the room, really makes a diffrence.
Total backstage party going on, not us, but the other dudes that are part of the show. We don't have the time for rock and shit like this. I mean think about, there's no way i'm gonna get bombed before a show, that would be a disaster. Performance would be out the door, it's just not music like that, i gotta be real alert, it takes concentration to play for over an hour, it's good for me, gotta keep your head in the game. It just so much better playin', back home and on other tours, i been wrecked outta my head playin', it's never good. You may think it's good, but most likely it blows... especially if your boozed up, plus you get a total lack of energy, and it feels like your gonna puke. Hell, ask watt. I was really suprised he ask me to join, cuz the first time he saw me play drums, i was in a trash bag, playing the drums with beer bottles, and there was blood, glass and vomit everywhere, total anniliation, I fell over my drums off a four foot stage, and couldn't finish the set. I remember the first thing he said when he got on stage, "beat that darby crash", and i know he wasn't being a dick, cuz he's told that the germs were one of his favorite bands, i think it was more like a whoa, this dude is outta control. Pete remembers the gig too, this was years before i ever even met him, told me that he was intimidated to go on stage after that, i would've been more disgusted to go on stage, watt had to stand in a pile of my vomit. So see what i'm saying, i could not pull that shit playing this piece of music, i'd probably get thrown out the boat while it was in motion.
Down for a (I think) free breakfast at 8:30; back up to the room for quiet time tiil 11:00. Nice. The extra two hours allows me to start feeling a little nervous/anxious. Wierd. I woke up pretty calm. Make the block long walk to the club to load out. No one's there at first, but soon we are packed and on the way. We take a little extra time packing to alleviate some minor shifting that's been going on and it works.
We retrace our steps towards Bilbao, Uri in the front with Mike, me and Raul in the back. The road isn't nearly as dramatic as I remembered, mostly rolling farmland, with the occasional quarry or factory. There are some really beautiful deserted beaches though, and a couple of areas of dramatic, craggy mountains, I think one was a national park. Most of the wild stuff is east of Bilbao.
The plan is we're going to meet Andreas Gomez for lunch in Santander, the one way harbor town that we fell into on the way to Oviendo. He's the brother of an artist that lives in LA, a good friend of Mike's from way back. Our new guide, or Spanish escort or whatever you want to call him, Uri (pronounced more like Uli) is in the shotgun position and he's a trip. He totally has his own agenda, he's hilarious, but smoking hash and not at all getting the subtle hints, like we're about to cross borders into England, if there is so much as ashes they can set the dogs on us, and feed our mangled carcasses to pigs. But Uri is oblivious, not interested in learning "port" or "starboard" or "twelve o'clock", just pointing and saying "There" and having a great old time. And he is funny.
The weather has been pretty gorgeous since we got to Spain, and I'm told it's totally unusual; usually it's raining constantly this time of year. But today it's hotter and the air is misty and the visability cut way down. And the anxiety is growing into tangible fear. I think today it was "what happens when everyone you know dies and you're left penniless and alone? Do they put you into some kind of home and strap you down and intravenous you drugs till you're a mindless mental defective?" And I get on this whole thing, it sounds stupid but I'm living out this horrible future, not even that, because that future could actually wind up being not so bad, people are adaptable, I just feel the fear and depression IN ANTICIPATION of something kinda remote and possibly even unlikely. Mike and Uri are joking and laughing in the front seat and I am actually nauseous from the state of mind I work myself into. Raul is sleeping on the sunny side of the van, baking.
Later in the day, when I'm not in the grips of whatever it is quite so badly, I'm able to erect butresses and defenses, for instance I thought that I really need to start trying to be mindfull at all times the way the Buddists teach it, it would be hard without a teacher but I have some books and I could work on it. But while I'm in it none of that shit comes to mind, or makes a dent if it does.
We arrive at Andreas' father's business office, I guess he works in the harbor and owns some fairly large shipping business, or maybe they would say not large, but the office is beautiful; it's in an industrial area but they have fixed it up big time with lots of faux wood and glass and art, propellers and fuck whats the steering wheel deally of a ship, I'm an idiot, on the walls (and they really spin!), lots of models of boats, I guess they had this whole nautical theme going duh. Andreas is in a nice suit, seems like he looks pretty different since Mike has seen him, all cleaned up. He has a wife and two daughters that I really got the feeling are super important to him, I think he said he was just back from nine days in China. Anyway Mike gets on the computer and I HOPE got the third week of diaries up, like, five days late because we have just not been in internet situations. Hi Hellin! Then we get in Andreas' car and head for food.
We wind up on the exact waterfront we were stumbling around yesterday. Andreas pulls into a parking structure, and we head for this building shaped kind of like a ship, I guess it's the private club for nautical/harbor/port/ship and shipping type people. We go in and it looks like it's going to be a pretty special meal. We go upstairs, and have the intense view of the harbor at Santander which is so beautiful; it seems practically landlocked with big mountains visible, and actually pretty big hills and cliffs almost surrounding the whole huge thing. I don't think I got that across at all. Let's move on.
The restaurant was one of those semi formal members only affairs, and we didn't look right. Uri was asked to take his hat off, but they weren't too snobby, considering Raul was wearing paint stained shorts. Then the courses started coming. Calimari with onions, Small langoustine type yummyness. Some clams in garlic sauce. RED SPANISH WINE. And the specialty of the house: fish cooked inside rock salt. In other words, the waitress brings out these big rocks of salt and saws them open and there's the fish inside. The 'best fish in the world' as advertised? No I've had some awfully good fish. The best meal of the trip? Wow. Maybe. And still only lunch!
Of course Andreas does this little routine about the Spanish wine being the best, you have to drink it, and I'm starting to feel like it's unfortunate that I have to be rude all the time, cause they do seem almost offended at first; I don't mean to be, I just don't want any wine. Oh yes I do, but not today. Everybody else does, and he lets it go, but he comes back later with "To ask a tactless question: how long since you stopped drinking?" I think he had asked if I had ever drank at one point, anyway he figured it out, and got a great look in his eyes, of...I dunno, respect or kindness or something, and the father in him appreciated it. Sometimes people get it and look...just a little bit radiant, LOVING rather than repulsed or...threatened? Annoyed?
We were late, but Andreas wanted to take Mike on a quick tour of his harbor, knowing Mike loves that stuff so we go on this mad race on a lot of roads that I don't think ordinary people are supposed to go on including through a huge warehouse filled with enormous piles of soybeans...then we thank him for an incredible lunch and get back on the road to Bilbao. Mike presents him with a bottle of piss which he truly seems very thrilled and grateful to recieve, and the last we see of Andreas he is helping us back out into traffic, directing the cars with the bottle like a baton.
We are apparently not really driving through Spain per se, it's Basque and I know nothing about this subject so don't ask. I am allowed to feel humbly ignorant on a daily basis on this trip. I guess Basque is a french word for an ancient people who call themselves something else which I KEEP FUCKING FORGETTING and at this point am embarrassed to ask anymore...look it up. Their language is untraceable I guess for linguists, Uri thinks they might have dropped from space. He says they're fading out with globalization but they're fighters and have wierd sports like rolling giant rocks around their necks. I'm intrigued are you?
The insanity I was going on about was spread before and after lunch, and during but some respite there. Anyway we pull into Bilbao, Uri is on the phone getting directions, and we pass Gehry's Guggenheim which I've seen pictures of for years and always loved and there it is! Uri's phone directions don't seem to be working so he starts asking people, saying things like; "I like to get to know the people"... anyway he gets to know a bunch of them, it's not that we're really that lost, his method is just to ask someone, then go a few blocks then ask someone else which I guess is fine. Later when Mike is trying to park, Uri tries to wedge him into a spot that is small by two feet, and when Mike asks him what the deal is Uri says "I have big balls" which doesn't really address the subject. No biggy we find the club, me in full frontal despair but trying to hide it, get loaded in. Soundcheck. Albert the soundguy has a cool digital board and I have a pretty good feeling about him, and I think the stage sounds good. Mike thinks it sounds horrible. We strike because there's an opening band. I never did get their name. The backstage is a tiny room, no hanging out there. Have I mentioned I love walking into clubs and seeing lots of couches? I'll generally flop out somewhere at some point. This is more like: OK you're going to hang out in this bar till they close unless you feel like walking around outside for a while. Which is cool.
Raul is changing drum heads, so I go on some short exploratory missions and prove to myself that yes, none ot the streets are parallel and it would be easy to get lost. Mike is in the van. Eventually Raul is done and I halfheartedly and with much trepidation join him for a little jaunt. I feel encased in lead, tired tired tired but Raul is a tonic. I can't for the life of me describe Bilbao, I don't think we were in the real old town if there is one, but it just has it's own Basque flavor, it's own language that looks greek to me with lots of "k"s; fountains, old buildings, Burger Kings. we find the river and there's the Guggenheim, we walk around it, I get Raul to take my picture in front of it, it's a little like a dream come true, only not some big important one. I'm really wrestling with not giving a shit, but we head back, don't get too lost, and I don't get an ice cream again. Raul and I promise each other we're going to get coffee at the club, but when we get back there is none. So I have a red bull on ice. Wierd I start coming out of it. There I go again. The other band is on. They sound OK and I sit by myself and just think, fuck, get mindful, get present, get aware. It kinda works. I really feel a strong desire to sweep up the club.
We play and I think it's really good. The club is really a long narrow bar; there's a pretty good crowd although not one of those silent crowds, they yammer, but they also applaud when something good happens. We do an encore and pump it up, and they actually get quiet for a good potion of "It's allright, Ma" where I was expecting, maybe not heckling, but not much attention...But it was pretty good and I really start coming out of the malaise. I basically require a constant stream of ego gratification, praise, expressions of love, kindness or I fall into a sullen, sulking snit. That's a nice way to be. Real proud of myself. Oughta stop someday.
Aware now, I focus on packing and getting out 100% safe and complete. To this end, Uri is no Stefano, partying like a m.f. and loving and living life to the fullest, I guess or maybe missing it completely depending on you p.o.v. Don't get me wrong, he's a great guy, we just exist in a state of martial law. It's interesting, I was thinking that Mike and I are alike in some ways but from different backgrounds; both control freaks, both sort of obsessive but he got his from a navy dad and I got mine from being a sort of pre-yuppie science project (taught to read at two, accelerated expectations fer sure). Lately, I seem to have some of that defeated out of me, willing to let some stuff go that has just hurt and hurt and resulted in maybe what I had hoped for. But we get out and get to the hotel goodly, it is very nice again, spoilage, and I think of Hellin reading the diaries, tracing our steps through Europe; if it's posted and she's seen it she's reading about my little Italian girls in Switzerland and my exemplary behavior and she either doesn't believe me, or thinks I'm a dork for not trying to go for it, or maybe finally just loving me for the indeed-a-dork that she married and I am. And I sit in the hotel room, "chimping diaries" in a pretty much alpha state till about, oh, um three. Wotta roller coaster I get to ride!
"The beatings will continue until morale improves"
-Pete Mazich's Dad
pop and hose off and swallow supplements, wirewheel the teeth but fuck dragging the razor across my face, don't wanna do it. sometimes I gotta let that happen. routine is ok and I'm much a practitioner on it but it also puts robot feelings kind of in me and I get the hankering to beat down on them time to time, even w/something as silly as dragging a razor across my face. no disrespect to bilboa - I think last time I was there (seven years ago) I had a huge beard - no, I'm sure of it cuz I didn't shave that whole fourteen months I did that "contemplating the engine room" opera. the last gig was at the viper room in hollywood and I shaved it on stage when we ended it - either that or someone shaved me - I had it the longest time in a bag I kept in my freezer, the "opera beard," I called it. well, I just have scruff and not much an "opera beard" for tonight's bilboa gig. it'll be good to see unai again, I'm looking forward to that. first off though, I gotta make sure the boat's parking doesn't run out so I hoof on over to her after getting my bags so I don't have to come back. as I get the parking right, carlos calls and tells me the plan to take the ferry from la harve in france to portsmouth in england is on, alright! a man a little older than me here's me spieling onthe walkie-talkie leash to carlos and asks where I'm from. his name is jose manual and he has a u.s. friend in san diego named james watt - my pop's name was james richard watt! no one called him by his first name ever however, most times he was dick watt though my ma would sometimes call him richard (like she calls me michael, aaarrrrggghhh). it's bright and sunny out again so I ask jose manual about that and he says it's quite rare - the reason it's so green in these parts is cuz mostly it's raining, like portland or seattle. he says his james watt friend is a retired teacher so he says he'll ask if he knows of me when I give him a sticker. it's trippy, the cats you can meet on tour, huh?
I chimp diary 'til coming up on eleven which is when I told my guys to meet me at the venue so we can load up the boat. as we're loading out, a theatre group is loading in but where's uri? paul says he forgot to write about andreas being giving a piss bottle by me and he doesn't want to "waste the opportunity" to write about that event. oh, paul... c'mon - it's only a piss bottle. I tell him I'm gonna write about us talking about it here so there! uri finally shows and I ask him where has he been? "I've been getting here," he says. uri's a crack-up. we get in the boat and head out of oviedo and retrace the steps we took to get here, eastward on the a8 autovia (el camino de santiago). another look at some beautiful land, truly. I have a good friend back in so cal named gomezbueno and he's from spain, around the bilbao area. his brother andreas works w/his pop doing import/export in santander (that port town we took the unscheduled tour of on our way to oviedo yesterday) and he's invited me to bring my guys to chow some lunch there. it's a riot riding w/uri, he's a funny cat. he's got a good command of english and has his own spanish take on it which is refreshing, makes me think of things I take for granted to be understood - I like that about being around non-native english speakers or anyone alien to my alien-like-in-itself slang. first off, I'm prodded to get into their heads some to get what they're trying to convey and then I'm doing likewise w/my own spiel for their sake. for me, this is healthy stuff even if it can be a little frustrating, it's well worth it to go the extra meter or yard - whatever the case. uri's from barcelona but he says he digs the people of the basque country (we're playing bilboa tonight and that's the big town for the basque country) cuz "they're a gentle people but still try to keep their identity." they got beat down pretty bad from the franco regime, we came through guernica (the town, it's is also the title of the famous picasso painting) on our way into spain and that was bombed really bad during the civil war and after the basque culture was suppressed. we blow by the exit we need but a call to andreas (these walkie-talkie leashs can sometimes come in handy!) has us back on track and we meet him at a traffic circle off the autovia and follow him to his work. he's got his bro's art up in all the offices and it looks great. I've known gomezbueno for a bunch of years now and treasure much his friendship, he's very creative and a great cat. both his bro and pop dig his work, that's very apparent. andreas lets me use his ethernet connect for the first internet access I've had in a week but like an idiot, I forget to put up week three of the diaries - aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhh. I gathered emails (only 350 or something, I'm hoping so that ninety percent of them are spam - don't you love how those folks love us so?) quick and sent off one flower one w/a shot of a rainbow I saw in italy but cuz I don't want to cram chow w/andreas in order not to lame out soundcheck (there's an opening band tonight and I don't want them getting shit on cuz of moron watt). realizing you've blown it after the fact is such a fucking self-kick in the ass... sometimes I wish I could kick myself so hard that way I'd spin up into myself, I swear. bottom line: the diaries are important and I screwed up. shit, tomorrow's the last day of week four - looks like two weeks will be going up next time I get access. I'm not blaming europe but it sure is kind of tough for me this way. oh well, all the tours I did before the internet age... it's still a growing baby so I shouldn't be so impatient. what I gotta do is make the most of the opportunity when it is available - meaning not space out!
andreas brings us in his car to 'pert-near exactly where we were yesterday... damn, the place I thought was a ferry building is in fact the maritime boat club and that's where we having the chow. it is a fancy place but andreas says he digs bringing us up here the way we are - he kind of wishes there was more of the tables filled so he could piss off more uptight squarejohns! he's his own man, that's for sure and much resepct to him. the chow is a seafood deal and comes in courses: calamari, then some little lobster tails, some clams, and then the main dealio which is a sea bass cooked in a real thick coating of salt to have all the fish's juices jam up into it for maximum flavor rock. andreas asks me to dip it in these aromatic olive oils they got and whoa!!! damn, is this a good chow - wow! much respect to andreas. my guys and uri dig it too. I have a little rioja wine to taste it w/the chow, the last time I had this kind was w/the stooges last summer in santiago - iggy gave me some after the gig and it was happening. we finish up and while everyone has coff (I try to keep my swallows on that stuff to morning), I go outside to the docks to take pictures of stuff out here I saw coming in - righteous flowers and such. it's obvious there used to be much work done here (that crane I saw yesterday that's now a monument is nearby) but now these parts are totally tourismo. we're inside a beautiful bay, I can see beach further down past the cement and wish much I could put my toes in the sand there. work's still be done where andreas' offices are and he wants bad to show me those parts so we head back in his car for a little tour. they don't have hammerhead cranes here and so the can (container) thing isn't happening yet - the cranes the do have are older ones that do ore and soy meal w/buckets and steel w/hooks but there's two big auto-carrier boats docked w/cars rolling out of them - work pete and jer do back home on our docks sometimes. we roll through a big warehouse full of soy meal, huge mounds of it piled up. very intense. andreas tells me about his recent trip to china and how wild those parts are, very exciting. I hope to play there one day bad. I just heard from john talley-jones' wife kath that the urinals are playing a festival in china - wow, I bet that'll be a blast. like I said, I can't wait. come to think of it, carlos asked me if I was into that when I was telling him something I read about an italian lady bringing punk to china back in florence.
big big bear hugs for andreas - as a parting gift, I give him a piss bottle I had filled earlier in the day that I had in the sidepouch of my hatch here in the boat. he uses it to direct traffic for us to make our way into traffic - great idea! we're back on the road for bilboa. on our way into town, we pass the guggenheim museum there and I get shots of it, a frank gehry design. it looks kind of like a three-d version of how picasso might paint a boat have several perspectives of it being manifested at once - either that or like five boats colliding/merging right into each other! it's pretty fantastic. once on the surface streets, uri's asking folks for directions, starting w/a cop. it's funny, he gets a big answer w/lots of detail but then after a block or so, he wants to ask again - "I like to meet the people," he says. after about the sixth round of directs, we find where we need to be and pull up in front of the pad, a club called azkena. we unload and then it's time to park the boat. uri "finds" a spot and tells me to put it in but I tell him it's way too small. he asks me to let him try... c'mon dude, it's like two feet short! he relents (thankfully). there's a place across the road a cat just pulled out that's actually closer and I put the boat in there. I ask him why he was convinced we could make it and he replies, "I got big balls." ok.
we do soundcheck w/soundman albert who's a cat my age and very into this "check it w/headphones first" method. it's his room and I have much respect for the man behind the knobs cuz he's like our fourth guy in the band for the night. it's total "cupboard effect" w/the low ceiling on the stage and things made even more intense that way cuz I gotta put my amp back far enough for raul to hear cuz the monitors are total toy. same goes for out front but I got faith in albert to do as best as he can for us. I'm not about to pile anything inferior on top of that great lunch andreas treated me to (and I can't imagine anything I could find or brought to me whupping up on those righteous eats) so I have nothing more for the night, food-wise. I say hi to the guys in the opening band, local cats called inoren eroni who are very cool people. their drummer michale helps raul out w/a drum key. then unai, the man who first brought me to spain and brought me again this time arrives and it's big bear hugs for him. he's doing lots of mersh acts now but still has a place in his heart for me.
I chimp diary out in the boat and hear stefano's cd - I found it in door pouch which is so great cuz I thought I fucking yet again spaced and "donated" it to the great vortex in the sky when I went to go look for it. it's really neat stuff, atmospheric and trippy - I really dig it. the inoren eroni band does a good set and next is our turn, they help us much w/a quick set change cuz of an curfew thing. I ask the singer how to say thank you much in the basque language and tell him and then the folks in the crowd before we go on. it's a very challenging set on the sound level - the tone is so horrible for the bass but I know if I get loud it'll just be worse for albert to mix and paul will have to get louder and so on. it's kind of like last night but not as bad w/the outrageous resonances in the low-mids. what I think is great is that we hold close as a band and really speak to each other in our playing. I give direction like I do every gig - sometimes I don't know if paul's aware cuz he tends to get lost in his own world which I also don't blame him for cuz of his other experiences w/performing but he does seem very keyed into tonight and reins in his volume every time I let him know and then brings it up when I feel he's too tiny. the vocal monitors are really bad but I try hard not to holler in order to compensate cuz that would result in a big blowout to the voicebox. unlike the rome gig, nobody bails. I know this cuz I can see the front door from here and though I try hard to resist from looking, I do anyway. understand that I very well understand this is a challenging piece for anyone to witness and wouldn't blame anyone for thinking I'm nuts to play something like this and get on down the road. my only regret though is if they thought they'd wasted good money, I feel like a dick for doing that to anyone. I can imagine that most folks, especially those here in europe have no idea what the gig's gonna be like except for reading "indie rock" in some of the adds or that I'm "an old timer who's still going" (love that one), "former..." and so forth. can't blame anyone for writing any of that either. I'm just trying to do my best doing something I think I just have to at this point in my life. anyway, back to bilboa on the last friday of april in 2005 - the folks here are letting us play it for them and I think raul and paul are doing great w/how things are - ok, a little difficult but I think we're delivering the piece pretty ok and I'm even ok w/myself w/it. I'm trying really hard not to lose my nerve, even w/last night being a turnaround from the two gigs before it, I wanna try a put together as many gigs that are happening that I can, I'm really trying hard. much respect to these kind folks here, truly.
we do a four encores including the dylan one - paul does good but I wish he delivered the paused lines in time - god, the weight of those heavy dylan words carry enough and added drama just takes away I think, almost making them pretentious. I've told him before but I don't wanna hurt his feelings so instead I holler "c'mon" when he puts stess on "...president of the united states" - that wasn't very smart of me cuz I love him dearly and really am just trying to help. we finish up and I sling a few shirts - man, what used to be a regular stream has now been down to a trickle - I try not to think that maybe I'm getting worse at playing the gig as we go through the tour! almost out of stickers though (hey, they're for free!). I'm not complaining, really cuz I came here to do the piece and not actually sling - that's just some sidemouse stuff carlos suggested I should try this tour.
we load up and I get a chance to talk some w/unai - maybe stooges here in bilboa come august? wow! that would be great. I'm out of touch w/those cats now, being so in "watt doing the piece in europe" mode as I am. I can't wait to do some stooges... man, I can't wait! that music lights me up much. it's important I do watt things to get my silly ass further down the road (meaning an education in the school of life) but there's much to be learned from those interesting gentlemen in the stooges as well. it's a dream come true for me to get that "class" for sure. unai's a brand new pop now, much congrats. all these people having babies (uri's got a two year old son named neo that's getting baptized by a mayan lady from mexico monday), I'm so happy for them. seems the closest I'll ever get to being a pop is writing a song but that's ok - "he's resigned to his fate, it's not unkind" (syd barrett).
not to far to the 'tel and it's big bear hugs for unai and uri. up to my chamber, I get a knock on the door from raul and he has a tiny leno (say it the mexican way: "lane-yo") he got from uri. that guy is too much. he was puffin' big time on the ride into bilboa and told him, "please uri, make sure none of that spills anywhere or gets squirreled away and you forgot where you put it cuz I don't need the nightmare of having a fouled boat w/el hombre" and he responds, "don't worry, I'm not a mouse." I'm laughing to myself to just hearing his voice in my head say that now. happy konk for sore watt.
saturday, april 30, 2005 - la roca del valles, spain
Woke up by eight, and went down for somebreakfast. Paul was just finishing up, we both wondered if uri would show. Right after paul left, watt came down and had the same thoughts. Uri tried to get me to go our with him and some friends after the gig. Glad i didn't, he looked like he was ready for an all nighter, and i was ready for an all nighter of another sort, i sat around and chimped while listening to squartet. it was already two in the morning. Sure enough, we're all at the van gettin' ready to bail, and no uri. Paul and i were making friendly bets on when he would show. After a couple of calls, we found out he was on his way. When watt asked were he was, his reply was "i was coming here". That's some sub genious shit, i gotta remember that for the next time i'm late with out a good explanation. Someone asks, where were you?, and i'll say "i was coming here", it's genius. Please don't get me wrong, i think that's about the best answer i've ever heard for that question, seriously, it just compliments it so well. Uri is great, flippin' hilarious dude. We got a good haul today, six hours, thru the desert of spain to barcelona. Okay, not even barcelona, we're actually playin' a small village outside called la roca. Like the past few days, i make myself oblivious to everything else but reading, only taking a couple pictures, but when you think about it, how many photos can you have of the desert. It's a beautiful place, but things pretty much look the same from one mile to the next. Some of the houses were built right into the rock, it looked like someone just got a hammer and chisel and went to work. One thing i do remember was uri pointing out a part of the spainish desert that the anarchist used to hide out in, he knew all about, cuz he had family that was apart of it... damn, i wish i could remember their name, i'll ask watt, he'll remember, he always does. Whatever it is that makes his memory so good, i gotta get some of that. I guess you just remember what you really want to. Here's something that comes to mind. As soon as we pull off the highway for the la roca exit, some guy cuts us off with his horn blaring, uri instantly puts up both his middle fingers and starts cussing the dude out from his window... nothing to do but sit back and laugh, navigator has the chair, ad he can do pretty much whatever, it's good to see uri pick up on this right away.
Show up to the club right on schedule, the folks are just startin' to set up the p.a. The gigs gonna be in a hugh gymnasium, that's partitioned off by a yellow tarp. Well, i just asked watt about the anarchist, they called them selves the makis', and it wasn't the desert, it was the pyrinnes mountains just past... well now i know, and i won't forget. A big sound in this place, total echo, and everything is real loud, i know it's not the best for sound, but it's fine by me, i usually have a hard time hearin' the bass anyway. While we're setting up, uri goes down the road to pick up some food for all of us, see what i mean, great dude. After the grub, they also give paul and i a ride to the pad, we're not playing till past one in the morning, and it's only six. I wouldn't mind staying, but i thought about, and going to the room would put me in a diffrent part of the city, with options, and more to see. La roca is tiny, so tiny it dosn't even have a hotel, we have to drive a city over. I'm glad i decided to go, i may have lost my mind sittin' around a parking lot till one in the morning. Uri and his buddy rule, driving us around like that, they're much appreciated. I have no idea where to go once i hit the street, it's pretty dead here too. I did see one lady, so i decide to ask her if she maybe knows where a super market is. Super marchado she says, lifts her hands up and points in both directions at the same time... i'm sure she was just letting me know i could go either direction, nice lady. I keep going the way i'm headed, just wanna know where it is, i don't wanna go just yet, probablly on the way back. I walk for a while, no particular destination, and out of nowhere comes this hugh street scene. It's some kind of holiday, and a parade is floatin by... took me by suprise. So this is where all the people of the town are, celebratin'. I was feelin' kinda tired, but this totally woke me up, i had no reason to be there, i didn't even know what the hoopla was all about, but it woke up my mind and body, and i just enjoyed roamin' around watching people perform in the street, and just seeing all these folks enjoying themselves. It sorta reminded me of being in berkeley on the ave. Just the way it looked, the way it was set up. I've walked up and down that street thousands of times, and this particular place in time gave me the same feeling. Once i get going, i just keep at it. i have to make myself stop, and think about how i'll feel later, if i don't sit down for a minute. Shows the most important, so i gotta get a little rest, or i'll play like shit. So, on the way back i take the nice ladys' directions, and go to the marchado. Tomorrow we got a drive, and i'd rather get my food now than have to suck it up on the road and spend 20 euro, plus i love snacks... what?
Back at the pad, i crack open a can of vegetable medly, and a sack of chips and take in an episode of the prisioner. What i saw of it was great, number 6 wakes up to find the island desertred. Ah, his chance to escape, it already seems fishy to me, were do hundreds of people on an island go, i figured maybe he was dreamin', nope. He builds a raft, and sets out to sea. What i thought was so great, was, he's the only person, so there's no talking at all, atleast for the first half hour, just music. The only other life is a black cat that seems to be following him. There's no way that any show on television could do that now, just an episode without any words, that's like an instumental song on the radio, were do you hear that, maybe on a progressive station, but not the main stream. It seems folks need the words to latch onto, or they lose intrest fast, maybe cuz it's easier to relate, i don't really know. i personally love instumental music, sometimes it says so much more, has feelings that words can't explain. Anyway, the prisioner makes it off the island, but i don't wanna ruin the ending, you gotta see it for yourself. Uri made plans to pick us back up at ten thirty, so i still have an hour to do whatever. Early at the market i'd gotten some soap, so i just hung around indoors and washed some cloths in the bathroom sink. Europe is not equiped with launrymats like the states are, in fact i've only seen one, and it was the kind of place you left your cloths and someone does it for you, it's gotta be way over priced. I got the detergent idea from watt, it was how he was doing cloths on the stooges tour. This is only the second time i've washed my shirts in a month, i had to be reekin'.
Uri is right on time tonight, the show still won't start for another two hours, but there's some pasta salad, and everyone's having dinner, so we should get back before it's gone. Dinner was in the bigger part of the warehouse, just a soccer goal, a hugh table set up, and all this open space. It's already pretty crowed, and the first band are still doing their sound check. Waiting room is their name, and they kinda sound like pavement with a girl singing, also have a kid playin' sax... he's my favorite part of the band. Acouple of the dudes were still in there soccer uniforms, look like they had just gotten outta school. I watched most the set, but they just played for way to long, i had to get out before they finished. Took a walk down the road, paul said he had found a park along a river earlier. I thought maybe i'd go check that, out the band seemed alot more interesting sounding from a distance, maybe cuz the visual was diffrent. When i came to the park, i noticed there was a biker meeting going on, i decided to head back. It wasn't like hells angels types, you know leather and boots, these guys were more akira types, new style bikes, and colored leather. Anyway, who knows, maybe they're the nicest guys, and they were havin' a meeting to figure out what to get their moms for mothers day, or maybe they hate the punk rockers who have the club down the street, and are just waitin' to find one all by themselves walking next to a river. In any case, i'm not gonna find out, not that curious. Bands still playin' when i get back, damn they have a long set... Finally they're done. Change over is so quick, i don't even notice... Both bands are sharing equipment. Somehow, i fell asleep while the second band was playin'. First on the floor of the big room, but a old dog kept lickin' my face so i had to move to a chair. I was watchin' the band one minute, and thhe next i was leaned over on the table. Some more bikers were there, these guys looked more hell angels, tattoos, sleeveless shirts, it was their dog droolin' on me. Paul said he watched as they threw down the drugs, and started doin' lines next to my head. God that had to look funny, me all passed out while bikers doing rails right next to me... whatever, i'm just glad there wasn't a gang rape in the air, eww, that's just foul and wrong, sorry. Damn, my mom reads these.
Had a good gig, all the spanish shows have been so good, it's such a relief after a couple off days and the notorious terracina bomber. The place was packed, and people seemed to really apprecite us there. At one point i looked out in the crowd, and uli was crowd surfing, it was great. I felt we played really well, it was a blast on stage, good energy and communication. After the second set was done, the folks still wanted more, as i was tryin' to get off stage to pass out some stickers, to drunk spainards kept pushing me back up, they wouldn't let me get off, but i thought it was a great gesture. It's rad to play and then have people pounding on the stage for more... i wish we had more to give. Watt had crashed before the show, and since we had a long haul thru france, it was decided that it be the smartest to leave as soon as possible. It was already four, and two hours sleep wouldn't do much good any way, so i'm into it. Within a half hour were on the road outta spain... bye bye spain.
Today is my mom's birthday, happy birthday dear mother, no card or call from your son, who has not your address but is thinking of you. If my mom is reading these diaries she's probably pretty perturbed by my use of the f-word and generally incompetent and unorthodox syntax and grammar, not to mention life and world view, sorry mom, prioritizing, it might be more worrysome to consider the emotional disfunction which a shrink would probably diagnose as bi-polar or manic depression probably the former, if I keep going in school maybe I'll know these things. But don't worry about the runonsentences and compoundwords not to mention the random ,;,...; I'm trying to evoke the wordtumble thoughtavalanche downthestairsfall that my mind is afflicted and/or blessed with. And don't worry about that either, because it is a minor inconvenience that many people swim in; I just choose to write a book about it and post it on the internet.
My mom and dad were sorta proto-yuppie ivy-league family in NewHaven, Connecticut till 1969. Man, I don't think either ONE of them could read this far without being really tied up in knots and it's wierd y'know? not my intention at all. I think I'm a nice, well meaning guy, fairly conservative values, I like to think I'm wierder than I am, I just can't really handle wierd like I'd like to. Anyway Dad went to Yale then worked at GE, IBM and wound up with a plum job Director of Computer Center at Yale and all the stuff that goes with that. Mom was good wife, housekeeper eventually started working at the Yale drama center in the late 60's which was freak central let me tell you. I got to see the Living Theater before I was ten and I think we were both warped a little from that. Kira was still tiny I don't know if she has much recollection. My dad was warped in a different way: HATED hippies, rocknroll counterculture. So 1969 we move to the Carribean fo three years and he becomes an underwater photographer. I think there was a some other hectic dark drama that we weren't privey to, but I dunno.
I didn't really want to make this a life history, I just really wanted to say that my mom has had a bunch of different lives, my folks got divorced and it almost killed her, she became a single working mom of two handful and a half teenagers, she became a bit of a hippy, I thought that was really cool we were partying in the mid 70's, then she moved to the Florida keys with her dream guy and lived an exemplary life of eco-responsibility and spiritual exploration. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM, you live right!!!!
Nine wake up call and down for the free food bag then back up, piddle around for 20 min. They supply us with comb, razor, toothbrush so I take them thank you very much. Sit in van ten on the nose, wait for Uri. And wait a while longer. Mike tries last night's promoter (his name was Uni?) no answer, call Carlos in Holland, we wait, then we just wait for a while. Uri gets there at eleven which is an hour late by my watch but not really by his. There is no discussion regarding.
It's a six hour drive to Barcelona so it's no big deal; the big deal is it's a 900 mile drive tomorrow to make the ferry to England. No lets stay real it's 1000-1200 clicks. The show tonight is LATE we might go on after 1:00, departure projected for 7-8 a.m. so Watt wants to try to sleep after soundcheck and not wait around for Uri who is a delightful character, but a lot quieter today than he was yesterday. Anyway we bail.
SOUTH! And pretty soon we're heading down into California/Arizona type desertish stuff, not quite as dry but getting there. The cities we're heading towards I've never heard of. It gets drier and drier and boringer, I settle in, snooze, read and HEY pull out my old smart guys talking CDs and there's some great ones. And I am more or less calm the whole six hour drive.
We pull into the big industrial warehouse place and it's obviously real punk rock. We load in and check, and it seems like the sound is going to be fine. Outside, it loolks like any orange county under construction industrial park except for the little matter of the castle up on the hill. I'm trying to figure out how to get comfortable for the next SEVEN HOURS; there's nowhere to do anything. Mike wants to stay, write diaries and sleep in the van, I wonder if that means I need to stick around too or I'm a deserter? I figure worst case Raul and I can walk, maybe up towards the castle, but it'll be a grueller and tomorrow will be insane. So I assume Mike doesn't care what we do and just put it out there: "Howabout a ride to the hotel?" And prayers answered; Raul and I can go check in and do NOTHING/ANYTHING for threeandahalf hours in comfort before returning to what looks like a night of hardcore heaven. On the way I ask Uri if he thinks the opera will go over for these kids and he assures me they are informed, know what they're getting and I actually believe him. But internet? HA! Not at this club.
Later: Mike said he didn't upload week three at Andreas' office and it's making me a little uptight. It's a one way communication, but still...just no opportunity. Sorry baby.
I get an hour of sleep at the hotel and a BATH. I'm reading this John Tarrant book on Zen; he's discussing the difference between spirit and soul; it's an interesting subject, written very peacefully; I'm needing this battery charge for the next 24 hours which could be life threatening all in all. Our rides pick us up at 10:30 so we can get back and eat. It's Uri, Daniel and the actual guy with the car, who's name I will tell you later. It's about a twenty minute drive; we get back and there are some dregs of pasta salad and some bread which I munch, kick a soccer ball around and do some feints at a black dog that looks friendly but he is totally not into it and starts barking and barking sort of threatening me, I try to make up but he wants to bite me; his owner has to sort of drag him off. This is rather upsetting so I go walking off in the dark thinking that no one likes me, then realize that it's kind of cool out there, there's huge power lines and a stream with a bridge that I cross, then a field in the pitch black and there's a little tabernacle to the virgin who's been following me. I head back and have a good talk with a german named Heinrich in a meat puppets shirt, he's a shrink from Muenster currently practicing in Barcelona. And so punk fans grow up and stay punk. He was a cool guy.
I'm remembering that FUCK I forgot the Coltrane warmup CD at the hotel and am wondering if I can get away with skipping it for this punk crowd; I'm weighing how mad Mike will be and conclude that I'd better try to get a ride back to the fucking hotel. This is so lame because they already drove us over, picked us up; this is gonna be yet another round trip. I reluctantly mention it to Uri who is working the door he says when he sees the guy he'll tell him. The place is starting to fill up; it's a really big space that's sorta been divided off with some dividers, whatever, so it's more like a small club with a high ceiling. There's alot of reasons to think this isn't going to work to good musically: the shape of the space, the punky audience, the weak sound system, the fact we're going to be going on at 1;30 or 2, the fact that Mike has been asleep in the back of the van for 5 or 6 hours, it could be nightmarish.
So dude who's name I'm going to tell you later takes me to the hotel and it's going to be a 40 minute round trip so I try to make some broken small talk in Spanish. 'Course they don't speak spanish here, they speak Castilleano but actually not that either they're Catalonian. Yup. Four areas of Spain, different lingos, none the broken retarded mexican I try to get by with. But we talk and he's interesting, an artist, he does sets for TV and movies other stuff, he's super busy, working all the time. Buzz on the top, dreads in the back, I dunno about that but I've had pretty ugly hair in my day, sometimes it just happens and you're stuck with it. So he takes me to some train tracks and besides some good grafitti there's one of his works, a huge shiny black on aluminum thing bolted to the walls of the train tracks. It's a recreation of a work by an anti-facist artist from the 30's named Gomez. Yes! another artist named Gomez and it's totally great. HHe gave me a flyer with his name and the Gomez guy, all the info that would make me look slick, the Leslie is sitting on it, I'll get it out in London and let you know the scoop.
So the trip to the hotel was good! I get the CD, we return. The club is PACKED now, I think the second band is just starting to go on and it's almost 1:30. ugh. I'm hanging on one side of the room and I watch some folks chop up four or five lines of drugs and my body really screams for it, knowing it would help with the exhaustion but my mind suggests I go stand on the other side of the room. Well nothing to do, nowhere to hide, I just get in front of the band and try to groove on them and I like them. Instrumental, wall'o'guitars (just 3 actually) but with echos and effects, very simple bass lines and it's pretty hypnotic. Hypnotic also are th spanish girls who are not Hellin, but have something going for them all the same. Anyway the band: Pupilli, good but it's so fucking late, anyway they end, we wake Mike and set up as quick as we can. We're almost ready and I notice there's no mikes on the toms. I ask the sound guy (Alex) and he says embarrasedly that he doesn't have enough mikes, only eight and three are on the Leslie! And that's a little embarrassing to me! But whatever. I give him the Coltran CD and it doesn't work! So there's the irony in that. We are warmed up by Fugazi, I think.
So here we go, and fuck it's a GREAT audience, Uri was totally right and we rise to it, I feel Mike coming up a little in volume and I feel like we loosen up and go for it even though it's two in the morning. Especially since it's two in the morning.. I have this little cheering section that are imitating my moves, either mocking or whatever the other thing is, occasionally reaching up and touching keys, which is unfortunate but not too often. And the audience really walks with us hand in hand through the opera, though they may not know it, they go to hell, purgatory and heaven, they feel horrible life threatening sickness, long unbearable convalescence, and healing climb back to health. Then we rock some encores and people crowd surf to "Corona!"
I'm building to my big solo finish at the end of "We are Time", just trying to sqeeze one more OOOhhhhh!!! from the crowd, just KNOWING it's gonna be SO GOOD when one of my cheering section reaches up, touches one of the black keys and sends the keyboard into a blank preset. End of show. Oh well. Mike is already packing up his cords anyway. I give out some burnt church stickers which incredibly I'm not sure if I'm going to have enough of to make it to the end of the tour, SORRY JEFF! I gotta tell you guys about that piece before the diaries come to a close for me. I actually might have enough...
It is now after THREE! As far as I know, we're planning on getting away between 7-8 a.m. Earlier I have talked to Carlos and he begs me to talk Mike out of this plan. Well I'm not looking forward to it either, but arguing with Mike about it even less. So we pack as quick as we can. One of the guys from Pupilla gives me a CD and says that someone told him I was the only one listening their set, that's not true, but I'm glad he knew I was paying attention.
We get back to the hotel by Four and Mike has decided he wants to leave right away. You all who think we're crazy, may have a point but remember: Mike slept at least five hours before the show, he's still wired from a good gig, and we have a twelve hour at least drive ahead of us to make the ferry. He orders me to go to sleep in the back, saying that I MIGHT DRIVE IF HE GETS TIRED. That's right. So humbled by this sublime responsibility (and glad to have the back seat to sleep in to myself) I think of Hellin, really, truly missing her more and more each day. And I add Alex and Adam to this prayer. I am so so sorry. Because they haven't behaved the way I have demanded, I have cut them out, and withheld love in these diaries. And it is because I am afraid. I am weak; I am asked to write something and immediatly use the chance for self aggrandizement, a love story where I am the hero.
I can barely go on writing this shit, it makes me sick.
Mike has pointed out to me that in my diaries I'm pretty mean and judgemental about the people I meet, he mentions the guy in the lokal in Zurich ("hell on earth") and Sabina, says I slam them cause of their nationaiity. See, I go back and read it and I don't even see it, but I know I don't mean to, but it's an old, tired, horrifyingly familiar story. I mean to be the great guy, the healer, the bringer of fire and wisdom, the seeker of peace and enlightenment but I leave a trail of rotting stinking carcasses behind me and I can't take it anymore. I hurt people not meaning to, and do not help those I mean to, and I can't end it; I have to live out the fucking string with the broken soul and the good intentions and the poisoned touch. I would live in a dark room and never blink or breathe for fear of another wrong move and if there was ANYTHING I COULD DO TO SHOW MY KIDS HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM I WOULD, die, kill and see...all more damage every move. My ego is devouring me, I trust the moments of peace not a bit it is in those moments that I seem to be a monster, it is only in TOTAL ABJECT DESPAIR that I find an iota of right sizedness. And I'm so sorry, I was never ready to be a father and still am not, I am a small, small man who can't get through his head that he really doesn't fucking matter at all. Forgive me. I know, why? Forgiveness must be earned and I cause more damage every day, rather than healing. Someone please tell me the way out of this maze, I've tried everything I don't want to hurt anymore, me or you.
pop at eight bells, I was tired and I am sore but some twist and whirls w/my body and I get some kinks out. the tiredness got taken away w/konk and the twist/whirls helps some but man, it's been 'pert-near a month now w/pedaling or paddling and it's pretty maddening. just to push fluids through me w/something other than hoofing would be righteous. I'm not complaining but I come kind of short for hoofing cuz of the knee shit - not that I'm complaining about that either cuz at least I can walk. I'm glad I got my guys w/me and I'm tour here in europe, trying to deliver this piece. I'm glad I'm not so sore I'd be moaning like a whiner. I'm glad I don't get so tired I'd end up cranky - it's gonna be a tired test after tonight's gig though, a real one cuz we gotta make le harve for the ferry to england and that's 'pert-near twelve hundred klicks. we don't go on stage 'til one either... things should be interesting. I'm preparing myself now though. this is the only really intense crazy shit hellride of the tour and I'm convinced I can weather it. I digress though - I hose off and shovel chorizo they got cut like salami on pieces of baguette rolls. it's funny me describing shit like that, huh? like the who the hells cares, get it shoved done yee then, will ya! well, I drop a bunch of yogurt on the pile it makes in the bottom of my gut. ok, I got to put that that way, used some words to share the chow thing. I go back to my room, I don't shave - second day now... a little bit of bad behavior. I get cranky, even on myself sometimes - aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh. I need space, oh to have some space from even one's self, huh?
the boat's right out front and we wait for uri. we wait... uri doesn't wear a watch, wants to be free of time and I can understand that... hard to tolerate but I can understand it! he shows up an hour late and we all laugh. "get aboard the boat, uri! we're off for la roca del valles which is about eight miles east of barcelona, in spain's southeast and near the mediterranean. we've gotta cross some desert - a european desert, ain't that a trip? first we pass through the inland parts of the basque country, vitoria-gasteiz (where I played a festival w/the stooges a year and a half ago). then we roll through rioja, where all the great spanish wines are made and onto zaragoza where the monegro desert is. we got a sky full of sun and clearness so it's quite warm. this boat's motor's kind of tiny (like two liters) and we're fully loaded up so no air conditioner - I pull uri's hand from the know that turns it on. instead, we got windows down, like in the old boat back home. now the new boat's got it cuz that's what came in, it's standard in these days' models but it's the first one I've had ever had and probably would've passed on it if it was still an option. ok, I like to wear peddleton flannels (pure wool) w/out undershirts too but I ain't a masochist. I just figure you pay for everything somehow down the line and what's comfortable in one place is a hell in another and fate will throw you your lot in spite of what arrogant thoughts you have of "choice" or whatever designs. now it's fucking loud w/the windows open cuz of the wind rushing in so I wear earplugs. trippy how you can still hear people talk but all that roar is muffled. uri tells me of the pad he had in barcelona but it got burned down by some cat from argentina who was tripping on lsd and tried to make a fire in the fireplace w/wet wood and then tried to help it out w/gasoline but put the can too close to the fire before going upstairs, finding a raging inferno when he came back down after smelling smoke. uri said he told the cat he had to leave, go back to argentina but gave him "fireman" as a nickname. what was a mindblow was a buddy of his went to argentina recently and met some guy at a hostel who said he had visited spain. "oh yeah?" he said. the guy replied, "yeah, I lived in barcelona for a bit and they called me 'fireman'" - "what the fuck!!!" that's a trip. what was really sad is that uri lost all his records in those flames, damn. I ask him about the civil war, I've always wondered why no monuments while the u.s. is obsessive about remembering theirs and he told me no one wants to talk about it. he said he had a relative w/the "maki" who were anarchists. he said tonight's gig boss wrote a book on this period. I know there were some u.s. people who volunteered to help the republic but like half of them got killed, they were called the abraham lincoln brigade. I guess no war is ever very "civil" much, huh?
we skirt by barcelona and get into la roca del valles at about five. bossman danny and some friends plus soundpeople alessander and martha are here at what appears to be an industrial park w/a big part of the giant area curtained off which is good cuz it would make for some terrible sound. the p.a. is tiny but I think it'll work out ok for what we need. we setup and do soundcheck - I think it's the first time alessander's put mics on a leslie cuz he doesn't understand how it works so I show him the bass speaker w/my flashlight and then how you need two mics on the spinning horns to get stereo. voila! uri goes and gets us sandwiches, big french rolls w/an omelette kind of filling mixed w/mayo, trippy but good eats. my guys leave for the 'tel but I stay back cuz my plan is to make it almost like a gig for one of my u.s. tours where I konk in the boat. I make sure it's possible to get in the back, lock it and then be able to get out and then prep it up for konking, making a space on the deck in there and then using my clothes sack for a pillow. tomorrow will have us on an intense mission: no gig (our last day off of the tour) but twelve hundred klicks to drive and be at le harve in time to catch an overnight ferry to england. what's compounding things further is it's looking like we won't get on stage tonight 'til at least two in the morning. to make things work, I'm gonna konk as much as possible before we play so I can start driving 'pert-near right after we get done playing. I should've realized this when carlos got the tour's routing going in the planning stages but like an idiot, I overlooked the reality of the sitch. no matter, we'll make due and in the worst case we'll miss the next gig if we have to. many tours make up this life I have and no insanity for a gig's sake is smart thinking - one tour is made up of many gigs. I talk to the cats in the opening bands, there's two tonight. one's called pupille and the other's calleed waiting room, both pretty much instrumental though waiting room has voice at times. there's a banner on the wall that says "karate punk" - I ask what that is and am told it's the way some of the people dance, like they're making karate moves. that's funny. seems like a healthy scene here, many musical influences. even though the cats in waiting room are pretty young, they got a sax player and they all know about john coltrane. I hear the pupille soundcheck from the back of the boat where I'm chimping and again, the sonic youth influence on young people making music is in full effect. I wonder if thurst would've ever imagined such a thing? they've been embraced on so many levels, no wonder they're such an institution. much respect to them cuz I think they've expanded young people's musical horizons big time, allowing them to think outside the standard mershrock box and realize more personal visions. I finish chimping yesterday's events, pull down my mask and konk. it's kind of shvitz back here so I got my shirt off but don't have to get naked. I'm guessing things will change when the sun goes down though so have a couple of shirts and my jacket ready. sure enough, I get woke up by coldness and get bundled. I even take out what shirts are in the box and cover my legs w/those, then konk back out. I'm stirred a little by what sounds like the first band - plugs in my ears and moving the boat the furthest I could in the court outside the entrance has dampened the sound some but not all. they sound good but I gotta get sueno in so I force myself back asleep. lots of tours have helped me get a handle at doing something like that. paul comes to the hatch to get me but somehow I popped up only moments before he gave the knock. anyway, we're on.
we go to work quick setting up. alessander has only so many mics so raul's gonna have to do w/out one for his floor tom. no matter, I'll have beat the fuck out of it. we start the piece and I'm amazed how the tiny p.a. is still able to get the vocals up, the pad's acoustics are working for us instead of against tonight. actually, it's probably the best "monitors" I've had all tour - the stage is just a platform w/out any sides and the walls on two of the sides project the vocals real good - the curtain being plastic doesn't really dampen things on the third side yet there's no slap or infinite reverb, very happening. we do the piece good, raul and paul playing really good and there's 'pert-near hardly any clams. I'm really proud of my guys. the pad is full of folks but at first they're standing a little back but then the piece draws them in closer and closer. I'm not making that much eye contact (kind of scared that way tonight) but I'm trying really REALLY hard to drive this motherfucker home tonight, make it vital. these cats are great to play for, very generous w/their openness - much respect to them. they have us back and we do three fast ones - uri's hoisted up by his companeros he's doing his version of the crowd surf, too much!
we pack up quick and some of the folks talk w/me - two irish cats come up and one gives me samuel beckett's "the old tune" book (beckett short no. 7), much respect! heinrich, a cat from germany living here who's seen me for many years, going back to the fIREHOSE days says hi and it's great to shake his hand again. hugs grande for uri - thanks much, hermano... gigboss danny too - he's gonna send me that book on the spanish civil war, gracias. it's 3:30 am and I tell my guys we'll go to the 'tel for showers but then roll we must. they're into it, not a shirk among them. much respect for that, especially in a racket full of fucking pantywaists. paul tells me dutch dude carlos had called earlier and wanted to talk w/me, now realizing what non-thinking went into planning things the way they are to us now but it's ok cuz I've taken measures to deal w/what we gotta do (got the necessary konk). I know he's worried but I wish I could assure him that I will most definitely pull over if I get tired, no doubt about that - a lesson not lost on what happened w/d. boon. it's way too early to call him though, he's got a family and I'm gonna be safe, big time. one great thing he did though was fax me the work permits for england, much MUCH relief for that. I know the london gigboss barry had been working on them but not having something physical in my hands to give immigration in england was kind of putting worries on me. that's such a relief to have those. on the bottom of the fax it says DON'T DO ANYTHING CRAZY MIKE and I take his words to hear. I got two fine men riding w/me and want them back in cali at the end of this tour safe. I hose off and even shave up in the 'tel room, eat fish and flax oils even. I change into this flannel I got in my pedro town right before tour - a mainly red design w/pearloid snaps and wash the blue gig shirt in the sink w/the detergent I brought. then down to the boat.
into the back seat w/paul cuz I'm gonna probably need him for some of the stretch so I want him to konk now. I want raul up front w/me cuz he has a good way of keeping me alert and can slip in and out of konk easy. we make for the freeway but there's a few false starts and blow-bys, one on-ramp leads to an autovia that actually just stops (cement things put up to allow no one through) and no signs for a detour... what the fuck? luckily, I improvise using the map and a town name I saw on a round-about and this gets us on the road to girona and towards france. somehow paul stayed silent during that crisis and worked on konking while me and raul kind of panicked - that was smart of him cuz three idiots panicking instead of just two wouldn't have had helped things much. me and raul are big time relieved as we motor the boat for the border, whew.
read week 3 of the tour diary
read week 5 of the tour diary
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