watt's "more light" tour 2001 diary, first leg - week 1

j mascis and the fog

shot of ron, watt and j in 2001shot of george in 2001

ron asheton - guest in ann arbor, mi

watt - thud staff
j mascis - guitar, singing
george berz - drums
(left to right)

eric fischer - tour boss
noel ford - soundman
tim "dancer" herzog - helper man

steve kaul - the man outside the van

thursday, february 1, 2001 - montreal, quebec, canada

   huge licks in my face, bob says "good morning." here we are at the start of another hellride - the next leg in j's "more light" tour, the 2001 edition. bob is j's five year old bulldog, whom I've had the pleasure of sleeping w/since he was just a young bif. he must've been like a foot long when I first met him. I was on tour w/the crew of the flying saucer playing northampton when j had us over to konk after the gig. j's got a righteous pad out in the woods here in amherst and there's great carpeting all over - an excellent deck to konk and start snoring on. anyway, I konked right on the stairs leading to what was to become later the studio (they're carpeted too), loved the way my body formed around them and bob just curled right in there amongst me and warmed me like a heat battery. he is just so full of love. so adorable! he absolutely my favorite dog ever. now he's older, bigger and just recently castrated but still that irresistible lover man I fell for that first konk. he is just so full of the good stuff! radiating warm happiness like an aura. special bob.

   I shake myself off the deck and make for the head for a hose-down. whoa, a few spiders in here, not bad though: spiders eat bugs that are way worse. I came to nyc from pedro tuesday. what a hellride, lots of delays - took twelve hours to make it to jimbo's pad from when I left my little harbor town. everythings made better though. elizabeth comes by and makes color in my hair. whoa, it's a trip how this happens. it's now my third time. it's happening to have fun w/your hair. she makes it dark, in honor of my first trek to japan - hair to match the cats there. jimbo seems to have reservations, he says grays are "distinguishing." ok but I want to have fun. I'm not going to shave this tour either. that's how I usually tour. these last two tours, the ones w/the pliers and then the fog, I shaved - first time since early fIREHOSE (can't remember why I did then), I had promised myself I would when I was sick last year if I made it alive and was able to tour again. well, that commitment is finished and I don't want to be hassled w/that shit every day when I 'm on the road. hair on my head, hair on my face - hair coming out of my nose. for xmas, my neighbor tony gave me a smith & wesson leatherman type tool for my belt and besides being able to help me change strings (my little bass is too short for the gauge I'm using and the pliers part helps me cut them down to size), they got sharp, little scissors to mow the lawn coming out of my nostrils. wonder if I should've made color on them too? for sure my bear will be gray. whatever, I'm not trying to fool anyone - just have fun. thank you elizabeth.

   we go to this new york city bar and help george celebrate his girlfriend gimili's birthday. great to see george again! he is a ball to tour w/and can punch the drums up good too. looks like he's chowed a little bit in the the month and a half since we were in england. oh oh, kind of scary - he says he hasn't really played w/anyone loud since then. I worry for his hands or maybe what we'll be calling them in a few days - his paws! we have a good time, talking for hours. then a long walk back to jimbo's by myself at like four in the morning across town and down sixth avenue to jimbo's. so quiet, collecting my thoughts before this next fog tour. I would never walk around this late in my town, funny how your perspective can be so much different if you don't live where you are. I'm vigilant but have to admit lost in my thoughts - always much anxiety for me when I'm gonna start a tour, always. the town is wet from rain but nothing is coming down. I've never seen it this empty - no one is out at all. the sound is of the town is unlike I've ever heard it, like it's tired and resting. I thought this town never rests. wrong again, watt. this grocery pad by jimbo's is open and I get what I always get when I come to this town - a liverwurst sandwich. they don't have these in pedro. so late but all the konk I had on the plane and waiting, waiting, waiting at the airport has got me all the way awake. poor elizabeth, I kept her up so but I guess folks in this town are used to it. such an excellent tour send-off for me though, I am truly blessed. thank you again. funny, I only stay up late for tour. when I'm home in pedro, I konk early and pop at the crack of dawn so I can go pedal. the late stuff for me is only for either tour or visiting mode. what's really funny is jimbo is up when I climb the six flights to his pad! jimbo usually always konks real late.

   so, I popped after a couple of hours of sueno and tour boss eric comes by to "gather" me (as they say in england) and I meet soundman noel, a nice man from the continental club here in town. I have good feelings about him immediately. he was born in ireland but raised in houston, texas. neat combination. also neat is that he's got a couple more years on me, I'm not the old man of the tour this time! in fact, he's seen the 13th floor elelvators - yes! we head over to brooklyn to "gather" george. wow, I find some english money outside his pad! good omen? a two pence and a twenty pence. I'll keep them in my pocket w/my picks. picks? yep, those again. bad watt - I've been playing w/my fingers this whole break so I'll be getting used to that again. I am glad though j has asked me to use these, only expands my vocabulary on the bass. just will get a little getting used to again. this is my first time to george and gim's pad and it's righteous. huge, by manhattan standards - no wonder lots of folks, especially musical, artistic types are moving here. more band for the buck. they got it set up nice too, like an old hollywood movie set or something, that's what it has me thinking. we load george's stuff up, say bye to gim and were down the road to west mass and j's. dancer is already supposed to be there w/the rental truck that'll hold the gear. us fog cats will ride in this four wheel drive explorer we're in now. j says it's the safest thing on an icy or snowy road. the only caveat he says is that you can't stop. oh well, it's the tiny things that make life interesting...

   we get to j's and I gawk a while at the studio downstairs. whoa, much more to it than last time I was here. this is where the record got done, wow. such great sounds on that disc, I dig it. so intense to be getting to do them live. I try to play the bass j used for it, it's here. one of the best ones I've ever laid hands on, it's an early 60s fender precision - so very happening. thing is now I've gone to the little bass and just my hands getting weaker as the years come on me, it's real hard to play. I feel the pain from the strain of trying to work some scales on her. still is great though. we practice in the other room w/his drum set in it, a purple sparkle gretch. huge kick drum. folding steel chair for a throne. it's trippy playing w/the songs again, trippy holding a pick again. you remember by doing, I'm convinced playing memory is in the muscles and not the brain. it all starts coming back to me as we go through the tunes. we take a break for chow. then back for another round. this one's short too w/j going through a box called the 'love tone' which gives a real pinched quack of a sound. bizarre. then it's time for watt to konk and I'm out like that. bob comes over to nestle and I'm back to where this diary's writing began.

   bye to luisa and bob, bye! the tour's on! snow everywhere. up north through the rest of mass, then vermont (the whole state of vermont! tiny states out here) and to the border at saint armand. we're at the border a shit-load of a long time. papers needed for me to get across the border have not arrived. the lady on the phone tells eric the courier is stuck in a snow storm. snow storm? there's no snow storm! maybe a snow job from her. the canadian border folks are very helpful and do what they can and eventually we get them to ok a xerox of the papers. just then, who shows up? the courier! and was he stuck in a snow storm? guess. why can't folks be straight w/you sometimes? she even started yelling at eric for nothing, he just wanted to know what was up. aaaarrrrgggghhh. better to shrug it off and just blow it out the proverbial ass. at least we finally got over. got to see b.b. king's black w/gold trim tour bus too, it was the vehicle right in front of us, a painting of his guitar, "lucile" painted on the back. onward to montreal.

   this is a beautiful town. on an island, it's almost waste-deep in snow. trippy, sliding around in my low top chucks. oh, I just read converse went bankrupt and closed down a few days ago, can you believe that? better buy a bunch of pairs now. anyone see any purple, men's size 10 1/2 converse chuck taylor all*stars, let me know (no high tops though! makes watt's feet swelter). I get a righteous shot of two bikes chained to a rail, just totally covered w/snow. I guess you just wait for spring around here and start pedaling again. my buddy chapu says he pedals even in this weather! intense man, mon frere chapu! he's putting out my book of lyrics I wrote for the minutemen (it'll also have a 1983 tour diary I wrote about black flag and the minutemen's first tour to europe) later this year. it's so great to see him again. he says it's snowed here in town for the last forty days and forty nights, damn. I'm glad he gets to see me w/the fog. he did see me do the stooges stuff w/j and murph in nyc when I was just coming back from the sickness. speaking of which, it was just over a year ago when that hell started for me. in fact, I just did some gigs w/perk and banyan berfore coming out here to play w/j out in the rockies - the very place where that nightmare started coming on me. I'm so grateful I made it from that brink. that's why I still got the "little white suit" on (socks, underwear, t-shirt - and it stiil feels like a gulag/stalag thing), I _do not_ want to go through that shit again and will do anything, even wear that stifling crap, to avoid it. I am too young to die (I love saying that) and have way too much to do still.

   ok, back to the tour. sorry for continually digressing. shit just starts setting my mind off on different things. aaarrrgggghhh. we're playing a pad where I first did my opera for the quebecers here, the _cabaret music hall_ - sort of like an opera house. no phone line (analog for my 'puter) though and I need some flow w/the email. a young man, jesse volunteers his pad up the road a way. wow, what a hike through the winter wonderland - pedro sure ain't like this. white pile high everywhere, like a dream. surreal. I dig it. shit is cold though, that is a definite reality. glad I got these gloves from that just finished tour w/perk. forgot my 40 watt hat in the boat back home though. jimbo came to the rescue and donated me his nightwatchmen's cap. thanks jimbo. back to the pad right and then soundcheck. dan webster, my old friend and promoter comes by to say hi w/his girlfriend - looks like baby is coming soon, congrats! j's got more ampage for me this tour. my sunn will power marshall 4x12 and 2x15 cabs and a marshall jmc-800 of j's will fed a marshall 8x10 cab. whoa, some real low end this time along w/that marshall growl. pretty beefy, as george would say. j's gotta fender tone master besides two marshall stacks and some more pedals, one called 'big cheese' and one called 'meatball.' all right. the tour's on. a band from former j engineer john agnello's tip called the _teenbeaters_ is opening up. when they're done, it's our turn - cherry gig for the tour! we do "mike's house" first and j's playing in another key! this is interesting. we get it together by the first verse though. that was funny. the rest goes good w/the occasional clam from yours truly. I'm really enjoying though, it's just the best being one of the fog and getting to swim in j's sound, I really dig it. but whoa, are we out of shape, about half through the set, I can feel george start to fatigue hard. later, j will tell me he felt the same but hell if I could tell - he was ripping like a monster. nothing like being on stage and kicking it out w/j mascis - nothing! very thrilling, to say the least. I love it. very enthusiastic crowd too, something I always find about montreal - you're never taken for granted here. wow, there's a half of a watermelon on the chow table, I gorge it very quickly. watermelon in the middle of snowy winter up north here in canada - I love it! I chow it w/my face fully in it, using my lower jaw like a back-hoe, down to the rind. what a gift, thank you montreal. we pack up and drive west for ninety miles, gotta get to toronto kind of early for some press. I think I konked in the back seat - I just hate driving late at night, aaarrgggghhh. we get to cornwall where the konk pad is I'm one full-of-gratitude motherfucker for getting here safe. thanks eric for driving us safe - damn, the freeway was totally snow white. the same w/my dreams, all a flurry of ivory swarms. insane. I'm in tour mode.

friday, february 2, 2001 - toronto, ontario, canada

   pop and I try to hoof but it's too cold. too slippery too, damn. back into the ho to chimp diary. shove off when the rest wake. strange how the weather changes when we hit the next province, ontario. always seems to be like this, when you hit the border and start getting closer to lake ontario, things lighten up. this is great though cuz the snow snarls have my nerves on edge. we get to toronto and after a massive loop make it to the venue, the _opera house_, a pad I last played in 1985. boy, is it freezing. not as a cold and as much snow as montreal but still a fucking bone-chiller for watt. we go do the radio thing. j got shocked w/the mic a couple of times - right on air. then do a "much music" (their version of mtv) taping at a pub. j's talkative and gives a lot of insight to the cat, who for his credit, asks some good questions - not the stupid drivel one usually gets from this sort of thing. maybe folks will understand that j is careful w/his words and not just laconic or a 'slacker.' fucked-up how that image seems to permeate. fuck that, it's bullshit. the cat's mind is more lit than the top of the chrysler building. I get asked about the diaries, seems he's really into them - all right! says the cat drumming for the roots, amir is in to doing them too. pretty much for the same reason, he wants to tear down the velvet rope - the berlin wall between the cats on stage and off, the altar and the pews. I'm into that.

   we get back for the gig and yes! there's some chili sauce. I begged our booking man, mr. steve kaul to please put this one tiny request on the rider for watt, just some peppers that can make me shit fire - please. this stuff is called scotch bonnet sauce. that's what the english call them. it's got good taste even if it could be a lot hotter. I mean, there's some heat but not enough for the sweaty hair, mocos running, ten-alarm rush I most dearly dig. still I'm grateful for them at least trying and not foisting total bullshit. I try this combo: canadian sharp cheddar w/the orange bonnet chili on a pringle. mmmmmm. let's have a few more! then some diary.

   great! an old bud, elliot lefko who first brought fIREHOSE to toronto comes to see me. always great to see him. next, I meet my friend martin popoff, author of the great tome, "riff kills man." he gives me part two, called "3700 heavy metal reviews." it's a riot hearing him talk up the metal w/j, martin knows tons of bands j's never heard of and j has some sort of knowledge. he asks for our ten favorite heavy metal songs, he's doing a poll. w/martin, the category's pretty wide. he accepts everything from t. rex to black flag as metal. even alice cooper and creem. the stuff I like that he would call heavy metal is not hair band stuff and it's great to know he's open-minded about that. j is amazed at the minutia martin can relate. whoa. back to the scotch bonnet sauce for watt.

   this pad has a one tall-ass roof. damn. the place is almost full so maybe this'll help out w/the potential din. you can't really tell from the stage, I don't know if folks know that, especially w/the bass cuz the sound waves for low end develop so far away from their source. we start w/"mike's house again and it goes good 'til the jam at the end, I get on the other side of the beat and just can't get back on. what a suck-ass I am! damn. that's it, though. I really bear down and focus hard and keep in the pocket this time, even if I do stretch out a little, I make sure I'm playing responsible. this is the job, to be the grout - stick the tiles together. be interesting grout but be the grout. the crowd is great, more subtle than montreal but very attentive and nice. I feel grateful to them, I dig playing for the northern neighbors here in canada, always have. good folks.

   we finish up and then it's kind of a slow pack to get things up. I sit downstairs under the stage a long time to think. I do a lot of that on tour, I need space and am by myself a bunch. it takes a bunch out of me to be in front of folks a lot. I feel sometimes as just an image and unworthy of the niceness I get shown. this is when I'm alone. when someone is telling me good things, I give them my full attention, it's the least I can do. only you can know what's in your name for real and even that can be a confusing mess. everyone must feel this way, not just stupid music people. the idea of persona is strange in the public context. like a tether ball or something to slug and hit around a pole - it's a freak out. you would think all that got torn down w/punk, I mean, that's what I would hope but the actuality, well... I'm so glad I got spit on me too. you can get just so full of your fucking self. I love what john coltrane said when he was asked what he was trying to do w/music. he said "I'm trying to uplift people." I like that. I want to aspire to that. it can me so much, I don't think it's that easy to quantify or explain. probably more up to the listener.

   after a long while, we finally bail. of course, first a blow-by. then a loop. then we're there at the ho, a 'comfort inn.' whatever, they're all the same when it's lights out. lights out it is for bass man.

saturday, february 3, 2001 - ann arbor, mi

   pop early and head for outside, I want to hoof. brrrr, it's cold out here! especially if you get caught in a building's shadow. toronto's the big town for canada and they got plenty of them. I find a baseball field that's all covered w/snow. please understand I live in pedro and we don't have situations like this. I mean, I remember it as a little boy in virginia and up-state new york but it's been a good while. anyway, I start stomping through the snow, just loving the crunch of my shoes snapping through the slightly iced surface and then softly sinking in. it's righteous! I feel like I'm about eight! all over the field I stomp and make trails, never trying to cross over my last one. finally, I've tracked the whole field up and damn, if my feet ain't really fucking cold - they're numb and feel like they're going to fall off. stupid fucking watt. there's a pad called the 'magic muffin' and I go in there for some warmth. oh boy. they got jamaica turnover things called 'beef patties.' I get one marked spicy. I use the scotch bonnet sauce on it. it's good. could be way hotter but it's good. a bagel too. man, is our dollar strong here if you change it over first. I get a bagel too. then more walk. more thinking, some crying - damn if the tears don't just freeze up on my face - wow! makes me laugh and that makes me feel better. get back to the ho and we're ready to bail.

   east through ontario and towards michigan. we make a wrong turn at hamilton and almost start for buffalo. whoops! another loop. that's ok, we caught it soon. we get another view of righteous hamilton anyway. what a polluted mess. you would not believe the blighted mess of smoke puking industrial puss bellowing out of here. poor hamilton. reminds of some of the sores we got in our land too. how will our children forgive us for this? back on the right track, we go through london and then windsor. finally, there's the ambassador bridge and the border. back in the homeland. very, very easy crossing. the border guard just asked "you bringing anything in?" we say no and that's it. great! thank you. saturday, so no traffic through detroit. clear shot to ann arbor, the home of the stooges. I called ron asheton (original stooges guitarist) and asked him to come play w/us tonight. we're at a pad the minutemen and fIREHOSE have played, the _blind pig_. in fact, I'm banned from this pad since the minutemen. the owner's a prick and gave us hell so we defended ourselves. fuck that asshole. the folks working here though are great and make sure that dick ain't in the house when I play there.

   ron comes to the pad right on time for soundcheck, great to see him again - he's looking good. he only brought his guitar so I let him use the marshall head and the 8x10 cabinet. wow, that's the stooges sound coming out - amazing, he's sounding great. j and george are blown away too. so righteous to share the stage w/him. can't wait for the gig. good bud bob teagan shows up w/his filming stuff. so does chris and greg, other taper cats who do my gigs when I'm in their area. I dig folks trading tapes of my gigs. it's the bootleggers who are sons of bitches. fucking ripoff pricks.

   upstairs, j's bro mike and some of his buddies come. mike flew from boston. happening to play for him. he don't talk much but I know he takes it all in, sort of like j. he's older than him and a lawyer - a trial one, he does gigs too. he does have a band called the warblers and I hope they can open for us on the next leg. I asked him to do providence and northampton, I can't wait to see him play. it seems his brain is always going too, like j - I can see it in his eyes. these mascis cats have a lot more under the lid than might appear. I dig it. understatement always carries a lot more power.

   we spend the whole time waiting for our set talking w/ron, hearing all the stories about you-know-what. funny how all the shit you're always thinking of asking gets spaced and never asked. damn. you kick yourself later about it. luckily, ron is a great story tell and keeps the spiels flowing. a friend of j's, scott puffer, drove all the way from iowa city and he's foaming it up big time. a total foamfest. the gush is so heavy, it's almost like a waterfall that carriers us down the stairs to the stage.

   we start the gig w/ron on the stooges' "real cool time." the pad is packed to the gills, is it sweaty. what a jam though! we really go for it, ron is tearing it up, whoa! he's standing right next to me and machine gunning it tough w/his strat. I look over my shoulder at him, he makes great faces as he's pulling the notes out from his machine. I look over at j and he's watching ron, playing a subdued rhythm part - that's different for him. it appears he's just over-awed, looking over at the ash-man smoke and smoke. george too, his jaw is hanging open like a foot or maybe a yard. damn. all of us are tripping on it. the tune gets done and it like a wind sucks all the air out. a big thank you to ron. then we do our fog stuff which is good - j very much obviously inspired. george too. I don't have to tell you what racing through watt's head and then out his body. I'm shaking myself fucking silly. I'm trying to get really gone, really out - like a dervish. I'm barely hanging on the thud machine, good thing it's strapped on. for the last tune, we do "tv eye" like every night and ron comes back on to join us. the solo gets taken way out and extended - ron really wants to go for it. we finish and I run outside to the back and there's steam coming off my body like I've been on fire and am now smoldering. george and j are cracking up. we go back in and then up on stage and we call out for ron - where is he? finally he comes up, says he was getting a drink. we do "down on the street," "not right," "no fun" and "loose" - on the last one ("loose"), george and j changed places w/george on guitar and j on the skins. ron just goes into the song's main riff w/no intro - j doesn't get to do those classic fills but the train gets rolling anyway and it's quite a ride. funny, I never heard one word I sung all night. it was like a using all my body's force to contort my face for the kids. I could feel the veins in my neck bulging and my face torqued real heavy but could not hear a peep, nothing. my eyeballs felt like they were gonna pop out of their sockets like corks on a shook up soda bottle. it's just so loud on stage. I love swimming in the sound though, I have to admit. trippy playing w/j drumming, it's tough for him keeping the backbeat going and it's a stumbolini fest. still fun though, in fact, funny! we get done and run off the stage and I can hear j behind me say "drums are hard, guitar is easy." now that's really funny.

   we go back upstairs to dressing room and I'm just drained. I mean really drained. I pulled out everything to give it my all to those stooges tunes, I just wanted to do ron and everyone right for such happening music. it feels like someone used a bicycle pump to go the other way and pump everything out of me. I didn't hurt so much as to just feeling sapped, tapped, emptied and spent. I couldn't talk, just sat there as everyone was talking and talking, everyone was so excited about the gig. scott puffer was leading the foam-down. the gush was major flood time, high tide and rising. I just sat, trying to marshall my forces and get it together. I couldn't speak w/anyone hardly. what an eerie feeling, like getting the air knocked out of you, on and on. I feel so grateful for everyone being here tonight, all the cats I've already mentioned. I feel really lucky to be here w/them all and wrestle that little bass. love it.

   we pack up and get to the ho. I go to lay in the tub, I'm gonna start taking a friend's advice and wash after gigs instead of just konking and do it then in the morning. I get in the tub and whoa - I konk! I wake up like two hours later, my head just sticking out of the water. my body is more pruned-out than a raisin, damn. grateful for not drowning but feeling like an idiot, I get under my blankie by the hatch and hit the deck. I wrap myself like a burrito w/the blankie and this chili konks for the second time tonight. whew.

sunday, february 4, 2001 - ann arbor, mi

   gray gray gray outside when I look out the window after I pop. snow everywhere. I want to walk around. day off, let's check this shit out, watt! I go to a field nearby and stomp around in the snow like I did in toronto. there's geese nearby and I go visit them. they're big! their feet, in fact, leave prints almost as big as mine! big webbed imprints in the snow and turds like little smokies sausages. they honk at me and it's a hilarious sound, like the little squeeze-bulb horns you find on bicycles. they run after me! whoa, I bolt but then turn quick and run at them. they freak and fly off, their wings working like crazy to get their long bodies up in the air. the wings are set so far back, such a trip that they can use the air to swim through. it's a mindblow.

   after a few hours out there I start getting numb from the cold and got to get back to the ho. I read some of this book "little big" - it's about a world where houses get built inside of other houses. it's wild. the other cats are going to eat w/ron but I'm going to stay here, do some diary and just recharge. there's gonna be drinking and I ain't strong like j where he can just say no easily. I smell the whisky and I want to start pouring it right straight down. bad enough I'm playing in all these bars. I've kept dry though. my main goal on this tour is to do my best for j and that means not partying on his name or losing focus. I want to be right there for him, w/everything I can give. days off are trippy for me anyway, I never have them on my tours. even if we're not playing on a given day, we sure as hell are having a hellride.

   I've been rubbing my tongue on this rougness on my tooth and it made me remember something about the gig last night. no monitors and of course it was total mime/funny face action from watt. trying to get at least something out, I had my mouth right on the mic - I mean right on it! so much on it, I was eating it! chipped up a tooth. when we got back to the ho, I saw it in the mirror. this used to happen to me a lot in the minutemen/fIREHOSE days, more from kids accidentally bumping into the mic stand. sometimes it would be my fault from stepping on the stand's base and it doing the old rake laying in under the leaves on the lawn and it coming up and smacking you when you step on it by mistake. a miracle I got any teeth left! at least I got them doing stooges tunes, not for just anything! like a tattoo, huh? can't wash that out of my life.

   I get a funny email from martin popoff about the toronto gig. he offers opinions on the show, digging it but having some problems w/the sound and, to george's amusement, the drums. dig this percussion discussion:

   "drumming: too much ride/crash, crash/ride, too much open high hat, fills too long and busy... didn't groove as well as it could have: more behaved drumming would have helped... that's it, man"

   we laugh our guts out (george too) after reading this. thank you martin for bring joy into these foggy lives.

   things have been so busy since the tour ending in december, I haven't had to put up the spiel from it yet. I get it up there. folks don't realize sometimes you're going from one hellride to another and time becomes a pressing issue. I'm very glad however that folks are curious and want to see what that spaz watt has to write about his tours. in fact, I konk w/the 'puter in my lap and the hands on the keys! those cats roust me when they return and get me into a proper position, down on the deck. then it's just a simple matter of re-ingaging the sueno drive.

monday, february 5, 2001 - cleveland, oh

   pop and into the tub for a soak - damn if I don't konk again in the tub, what's up w/me? only for about fortyfive minutes but what's going on? I must admit there's quite a 'safe in the womb' feeling floating there. my mind just drifts away. I know it's also stewing in your filth too. what a broth. tonight it's cleveland so we head south to toledo.

   we hit a gas station and I get my first 'dines (that's short for sardines) of the tour. they're a great tour chow. no refrigeration needed, you can stow them right there on the deck. get the wailing chili sauce going and then, mate it to a cracker and you're set. a piece of divinity, a mouth gift. then the brain gets lit and the stomach quenched. it's good shit. really. like the backwoods though, there are certain odors involved. of course, if you're partaking then everything's fine. it's those who don't share watt's spirit for adventure that find it repellant. which means everyone in the ride but me! they're gagged by the 'dines, gagged by the backwoods, gagged by the pickled quails eggs - gagged by everything I find good. damn. hate to be a thistle in everybody's whistle. I'm not trying to, I just have particular tastes.

   east on the ohio turnpike and we arrive in cleveland heights, in the eastern part of cleveland. we're playing a pad I've done three times before, the _grog shop_ and I did it much. located in a little area called 'coventry village' that's got some good book and record stores. even a burrito pad (hippie burritos though). the sun is out but it's still cold. brrrrr. inside, much better. good to see kathy the boss again and this time she has her sister and brother in law. he knows neil blender, the cat who did art for j's new record, the drawing w/the hands holding a hurt bat-like thing. neil blender is a skater and we hear all kinds of stories about him. this cat is from san diego and know o too, an old friend of mine who sees me when I'm in that town, warp tours too. I think o is for otis, he's got a band called _fluff_ too. bad blood between j's old bassist, mike johnson and him. that's lame. anyway, I digress (as usual). taper buds chris and greg come as well as old friend bob teagan w/his camera stuff. he's going to japan to film some sonic youth gigs and I've talked him to coming early and doing some fog. j's way into documenting a japanese gig. I think he really digs playing there. we're doing about an hour and half set now and he wants to get it up to two hours for over there. this brother in law of kathy's is into hockey so him and george has tons to talk about. george's hands really got beat up at that ann arbor gig. looks like someone handed him a live soldering iron and not by the handle part, ouch! we're calling his paws "handburger" cuz that's what they look like: ripped blisters, open sores, fingers puffed fatter than toilet paper roll tubes. it looks incredibly painful. george says it is. he's got to rap them in hockey stick tape before we play. tonight's gonna be a tough gig for him.

   my teacher/poet buddy matt wascovich comes and lays a great book of japanese poetry by mutsuo takahashi on me called "sleeping sinning falling." thank you much matt. here's a little one from it:

we, the zipangu people

the island, draped in golden clouds,
does not exist anywhere on the chart.
we, the residents of the island, too,
do not exist anywhere in reality.
the sea of merchant marco polo's fantasy -
cerebral ocean in whose storm we float, drift,
we, the so-called zipangu people:
a multitude who are in the end an illusion, a dream,
never believe our word.

   that's a trip. 'zipangu' was the first word westerners used for japan. my buddy john petkovic, who sings and writes for _cobra verde_ comes w/his synth man, chas. john's just been back from serbia where he visited relatives and brought me back a piece of money from there. it's 5,000,000 dinar note (that's right - five million!). whoa! he says he could about buy a pack of gum! really thin paper, this bill but a righteous picture of nikola tesla. uncle ray, pynchon freak, who I stayed w/last pliers tour is here too. I'm very happy about all my buds coming to see me throw this w/j. very happy. I'm gonna gush. one lame thing though about set times and getting on stage proper.

   there's been bogarting and stalls along the tour, forcing j to go on late and this is making me mad. it's not the openers fault, just slackness and maybe a little motivation on the part of the owner folks to sell more beer. ok, friday and saturday aren't that much of a prob but weeknights have folks getting up early the next day for work or school. it ain't fair to them. bullshit. or to j, in my opinion. I make this known to tour boss eric. I don't dig it. we're going to stick to the time on the contracts tonight and for the rest of the tour. I don't feel bad about this cuz I've always gone on when I was asked to as an opener. life is made up of many gigs. sometimes you're gonna open, sometimes you're gonna go on last. it's like that. stalling and making things fucked for everyone after's a bogart - plain and simple.

   the pad is packed, sold out. the stage is just big enough for us to hold all the gear. j likes bunches of amps on the stage. it's a great set, george kicks it up even w/all the hurt in his hands. much respect to him. very, very sweaty. j asks the crowd if it's worth to visit the 'rock and roll hall of fame" here in town. the crowd almost all at once says one big fucking "no" and wave middle fingers. ha! my sentiments exactly. fuck that shit. wasco is sitting on a bass bin right in front of me, to my starboard. he's getting his own personal watt gig. there's one thing that kind of gets to me and I don't mean any disrespect but as one of the fog, I'm backing j up. seems a lot of these gigs have got folks yelling my name. that's very touching but I hope people realize it's not a competition, I'm on stage to help j out. he's very generous and lets me do stooges songs and play w/great abandon. he has a great heart. it would be neat to hear "j and watt" or even including george too. I like the fact this band is really playing like one tight fucking team. of course, j's guitar is the bow and his singing the sails but I feel myself like a keel and maybe george as the rudder. back to the gig, it's smoking and we give it our all but it's impossible to make it to the back room. we have to run outside and get in the ride. windows immediately fog up. terrarium time again.

   j really liked the gig. so did I. broke a string but w/the aid of the leatherman type tool on my belt, changing it is a snap and I'm back in the race quick. george is hurting bad but dug it too. big thank yous to everyone and then to the ho to konk, except for george. folks are buying him drinks. I think it's helping him in the short run w/the hand pain. in the long run, however... on to the ho, another bath, and sure enough, another pass out! damn. have to watch that. it's only a little one though, maybe twenty minutes. the thing is about after gigs is when the adrenaline wears off, you're sapped and very vulnerable to ending up in snoresville quick. I towel off, and hit the hay - I mean deck. george comes knocking on the hatch (I'm always on the part of the deck near the hatch so I can double as sentry) and when I pop it open and then get back down, george accidentally steps square in my face, ow! that was a shake-up. no damage though and I konked just like that. nothing like a shoe imprint on the face to help along w/some dream variety, you know - but out of that erotic re-run shit. thanks george.

tuesday, february 6, 2001 - columbus, oh

   pop and head downstairs. what a trip, these hos we're staying in (mainly comfort inn or farifield) have chow in the morning, almost euro style. of course it's more like tiny boxes of cereal and rubber bagels (new yorkers would truly gag) w/coffee and juice but what the hey? outside is snow coming down and a dreary looking sky. oh well. I go back up to the room to wake george and he's having none of it. hungover, muy borracho last night. sorry george but the curtains must be unfurled. aaaarrrggghhhh, the light is killing him. his hands are really wrecked, I'm feeling so for him. remember, it's your hands that have all the most sensitive nerves (for touch) and his skin is tore raw. ooh. one consolation is a short drive to columbus.

   we're playing _little brother's_, a pad run by an old friend, dan dugan, who gave the minutemen an impromptu gig back in 1984 when the prick there in columbus that dukowski booked a show w/told us there never was a gig. asshole. ran a shit record store w/a stupid fucking name I can't even remember now. hopefully it went right down the toilet where he belongs. anyway, dan was our hero and saved the day. good to be working w/him still after all these years. he tells me the gig is sold out for tonight. all right!

   all right too, there's some sauce w/some kick for me: "doc's jamaican hellfire." it's got both heat and flavore, great. dancer and george are even getting into it too. yes! this food they have for us on the dressing room table is more than enough for me, I've been saving all my dinner buyout monies.

   j's gotta do a radio thing at the local new wave station and the promo guy from the label says they want me to come too. ok, anything for j. we get to the station and they've got this huge room (they call it the "big room") w/a chair in front of a huge banner of their station's name. sort of soviet/nazi dramatics in appearance. then they bring in "winners" who get to watch j do some tunes. no monitors though so I don't know how they hear anything except j strumming an acoustic guitar. the dj, andyman, asks is nice but asks the most generic questions ever. it's embarrassing. I get asked "you play the bass, right?" uh, yes. well, actually I wrestle it. I try to get something across when he gives me a chance, like - start your own band (or paint or write or...), that's what the movement is/was all about anyway, don't be passive and captives of 'alternative' commercials w/bits of 'alternative' (read 'pop') bands playing those same few songs over and over. I get to feeling really co-opted. it always happens to me in these situations. I start fuming about that later in the ride back. I mean, anything for j or folks who want to take things into their own hands but... aaaarrggghhh - it's useless to get rational about this sort of thing. playing the shill seems to bring this out in me. I ain't very good at it. d. boon would know what to say to convey what I'm feeling, he was always great at that. boy, do I miss him now.

   we get back and I do some diary to let off some steam. what gets me is that I start feeling self-important when I try to analyze that mersh stuff and that's a place I don't want to be. I'm no better than the andyman and it's wrong for me to think so. there's just something in my gut the rubs me raw about the situation. aaarrrggghhhhh, does it stick in my craw. j brings me back some thai chow, rice w/cashews and shrimps, good w/the hellfire sauce added. that was nice of him. I can't really chow before gigs that easy and I sure wasn't in the mood after that wave spiel - why you get so upset about that sometimes, watt? have to let it go. thanks j for thinking of me. the man is truly a brother. marcy and sue from _scrawl_ come by and say hi, always love seing them, have taken them on tours since fIREHOSE days. I'm feeling more up now and ready to play.

   the stage here is odd, really high, like you're coming out of a cake. you feel distant from the folks. it's a sellout and the pad is stuffed. dan's selling some beers toight. our gig is good, great spirit from the crowd. I break another string (I tell dancer later: when one goes, we gotta change the rest cuz they're ready to pop) but again, that tool helps me whip another one right on. see, my little bass' neck is too short for the strings but snipping them shorter makes it a breeze to get the shit happening again. real problems w/the monitors and just my spiel period, nothing is in the house. we reason that when j steps away from the mic cuz it's my turn, his guitar comes hurdling through and competes (prevails) w/me. tour boss eric tells me later I was in total mime mode. I'm getting used to that on stage but It's lame to hear that's what's happening out front. oh well, I know noel is trying his best. the p.a. isn't really strong enough for this room. noel says it's the toughest job of the tour. he even apologizes to me after we're done. noel's a good man and I dig him much, I know he did everything he could. there's not one drop of 'tude w/this gentleman.

   I meet a cat as we're packing up who brought me a dinosaur hat I used to always wear that him and his buddy ran on stage and took at a boston gig. he got it back to me two years later in cincinatti. I wore that hat for many years. when I started getting well last year from that sickness, brother matt took me to a dodger game but like an idiot, I donated it by forgetting I put it under my seat. poof, gone. I loved that hat. j gave it to me and I always felt special about it. I used to think baseball hats were so redneck 'til he laid that one on me. it all came back to me as I was talking w/this guy. funny how little things can mean so much.

   we get to the ho and george konks on w/the remote control to the tv in his hand. I make fun of him but then, as I'm doing 'puter shit sitting near him, I konk - hands still on the keyboard! george said he woke and found me there, head slumped on shoulder w/a steady flow of drool coming from the starboard list of my slackjawed open mouth. konk descended like a blitzkrieg on my pathetic ass. shows to go ya, he who laughs first - needs his fucking bubble burst.

wednesday, february 7, 2001 - ann arbor, mi

   pop and get outside quick - it's sunny for the first time since tour started. I stood out by the freeway and just let the sun soak me. there were pussy willows there by the road - none of those in pedro. I love it! they are so trippy, I remember them as a boy in virginia. I wonder if I'm returning back to a little boy in a way, seems like some things from those days really appeal to me and the things I was w/as a guy in my twenties and thirties are more and more alien. maybe life is like that, much the way of a baseball that's thrown in the air: it leaves your hand, reaches it altitude and then returns back to your hand (if you threw it right). I don't know if that's senility, maybe it's because I never started a family, which kind forces you in a direction (to dedicate yourself to your children) and instead you're caught in some sort of loop. I don't think it's a bad thing. I'm not hurting anyone. I know it's... ha! no towel for george so he's prancing for us out of the shower! like in the locker room in high school! maybe it's this music thing that keeps you in an arrested state. I have to think about this. it comes up on me every now and then, especially when I meet someone and they have their kids w/them and he's 'relating' to me after a gig or something. the look on the kid's face is always so funny - to hear their pop coveting the ability to act all little and shake yourself silly in front of folks.

   we're going to ann arbor to konk tonight, it's a day off and then a show in grand rapids tomorrow. ron asheton might play w/us again. that would be great! j and george really dig playing w/him too. big time. j says there's a lot of ron in his playing, having grown up w/the records. he told me "first your rip a guy off and then you play gigs w/him." that's funny! j is very original though even if he does acknowledge his influences.

   a 'crapper barrel' next door. no way am I chowing at that turd trough. what cornball kitsch shit for sale too - half the pad is a fucking knick-knack store. after my time in the morning air I rejoin my team and pile into the rented explorer. had to re-attach the seatbelt yesterday, what a piece of shit. hope it keeps us safe 'til we're done w/it. we head west through dayton and then north up to what seems our midwest tour base, ann arbor. same ho too.

   everyone bails for dinner but not me, I stay to pop some corns and chimp on the 'puter. days off on a tour are a trip for me. I get antsy and want to work the bass. finally, all the 'puter viewing makes my eyes tired and makes me konk.

read week 2 of the tour diary

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