a word's-eye view from mike watt
of gigs done by the stooges for the first time
in germany, sweden, denmark, serbia,
greece, italy, and austria plus their
second ones in france and spain
monday, june 28, 2004 - berlin, germany
the dos tinytour of canada now done and kira bailed to the airport, I chimp diary while I wait for a shuttle to do likewise for me. just to make sure, I go down to the festival hq to confirm my ride's on their board and it is. on the way back, I stop by this old english double decker bus that's no longer mobile and converted into a chow stop to get a hot dog. I order one w/everything that looks picante: horseradish, hot sauce and chilies but man, is it tame. maybe that's me and my habanero-induced tolerance though, it's still ok. back in room at the ho, I get a call from the saskatoon jazz festival folks that three hours before my flight at their small airport might be a little early so they're coming at one instead of noon to get me. on the ride, I find out this sun's been the first they've had in a long time cuz it was raining much before this - what a righteous gift for me and kira's trip and also for their festival, grazie. a good omen too for my three flights today cuz a delay could mean some major hell. a small but modern airport here, maybe eight gates total, I wait for phase one of my mission to switch from dos to stooges tour mode. this hop's is on a dash-8 turboprop plane, bound for calgary. whoa, these are tiny and loud but no one's in the seat next to me so I can dig that. one hundred minutes later I'm at the calgary airport and hoofing towards my next flight on a air canada airbus 330 for frankfurt, germany. this one's supposed to take nine and half hours, oh boy. cuz of my knees, I get aisle seats and next to me is a calgary gentleman maybe ten years older than me going to austria to see his daughter compete in an "ironman" competition - his first time out of canada. though he knows little about the kind of work I do, he's curious about it and the visiting of so many pads that I do. I chimp the last of the dos tour into the tipurse 'puter (a 2002 apple powerbook g4 "titanium") and then konk a bunch of hours (right after chow which was some beef whatever I had to force down) so I can try and get on the euro body clock time thing. I pop as we're passing greenland and w/a clear sky, huge ice down below is easy seen out the windows. quite lucky too to have a seat right next to the heads - one of them is broke down so there's a line lots of times for the working one and what a righteous waft every time its hatch is cracked. unfortunate I had to konk and miss out on some of those opportunities. turns out the flight doesn't have the tail wind they were planning on and were a little late which means I gotta haul ass to get to the lufthansa gate for my final flight to berlin. running through halls, down stairs, running through tunnels, up stairs and running through more halls - I make it but after fifty minutes in an another airbus, an a300, a long long wait at baggage claim enlightens me to the fact the little bass didn't. same thing happened a couple weeks ago when I went to glasgow to do a stooges gig there. it seems if the layover time between connection flights is a tiny one, the little bass ain't gonna make it. funny that the clothes sack does but maybe it's cuz the little bass has a massive flight case, huh? a cat named reinhardt is waiting to drive me to the ho but I explain to him the situation and we have to hoof a bunch to the lufthansa lost and found - the way they have set up here at berlin tegel airport isn't very setup. the lady there finds out the bass never got loaded on the plane and is most likely in frankfurt still. oh well, there's usually always a backup bass for me w/these stooges gigs so I'll work that. at least I'm here cuz what I dreaded most was letting my guys down and fucking things up, even if it wasn't my fault. you know, there was a trippy thing on this last flight I want to mention here. I saw a few folks w/violin cases so I'm thinking why not see what's up w/that - you know, the musician peer thing. well, I get this total brush off by asshole snob - just like high school but then there's another cat, trippy frilly collar for his shirt but no aires at all about what kind of music you're working and he talks a little w/me as we head out the plane and for our bags. he was really nice to do that, like I don't feel insecure enough. most the time I say not a word to anyone on flights but I had big stress w/this one cuz of the fragility of the scheduling. fifteen hours after leaving saskatoon, I am big time relieved to be heading for the ho where the stooges are camped out. happening to hear from reihardt that he knows of kicky, a cat who rode w/us on the first euro fIREHOSE tour back in 1988 and monika, the lady who ran a club here called the loft.
the sun is playing dodge ball w/rain clouds. the ho is just inside the former east part of berlin so we pass the brandenburg gate to get to this four season pad which is pretty fancy. I konk on the deck for an hour and then it's time for soundcheck, I see the guys downstairs and it's big hugs all around cuz I'm so glad to see them. the venue has been changed just a couple of days ago - instead of the kulturforum, it's now the columbiahalle which is in the same complex where I played w/j mascis and the fog three years ago, across from the tempelhof airfield which got used in the berlin airlift to keep the west part happening. ron's got an interview w/this german tv crew who's doing a big piece on iggy so jos shows me this brand new epiphone eb-3 bass he just got - sort of like my little one but it's a long scale and of course, w/out the watt modifications. I think I can work it though. something else different about how I usually do things is the amp situation. the gallien-krueger folks have been after me to try playing their stuff on a tour and I thought it might be happening to save the stooges team the bones (I find out scotty has his dw drumset and ron's got his two stacks of marshalls the same kind of way - ok!) by using g-k amps here instead of ampegs (the ones I've been rented are beat to shit anyway and these are brand new). I have three rb-1001 amp heads (700 watts each, one for back up) and four rb410 (four 10" speakers each) cabs. they have to stack sideways though cuz of angled backs and it's looking a little "tappian" (as in "spinal tap") so I suggest we put the amps on the "table" case that the tuner sits on and then put the cabs on two their cases that are laid on their sides. I'm not talking about looking "tappian" as far as me but for iggy when he jumps on top to hump them. this venue is a cement echo pit - really bad acoustics and especially when empty. the power thing too is for shit - buzzes all over. oh well, like they said in vaudeville, "work the room." jos' bass is doable - the long scale would kill me if I had to do a loft of gigs w/it but surprisingly, I can still find the frets ok even if they're longer than what I'm used to. the selector switch for the pickups is not like a traditional eb-3 - seems the best sound is for it to be set on "1" so I do that. a good thing too is that the strap ain't a short or that would make things really tough. w/this long neck, it's kind of like a giant upside down lollypop. we do "no fun" w/jos singing and we're done w/soundcheck. ron, scotty and steve are in great spirits for this longest stooge tour ever as is the crew cats, eric (who's taken henry's road boss position since he's on the road w/the corrs), soundman rik, stageman jos, techman chris and driverman nobby (the same cat who helped us a couple weeks ago in derby and dublin) - everyone's fired up and ready to go. I chow some broodjes (dutch for sandwiches) backstage and see phily (j mascis' wife luisa's brother) and his buddy pete. it's phily's birthday and what could be better than to celebrate it w/a stooges gig? alright! back to the ho and a little more konk... I ride down the elevator w/iggy and managerman art - ig tells me he saw my flight itinerary but I tell him it's ok cuz after fifteen hours of airport/airplane time, I'm roaring to wail as a stooge! we get to the venue and I chow a little broccoli and then commiserate w/my bandmates in the dressing room. nervous time for the cherry gig of this tour but it's sold out so that part's clean. 9:15 comes and it's showtime...
ig gives us the word and we run out to get on our machines. hmm... two tuners here - what's w/that? this strap won't stay on the bass either... get it together watt, ron's starting "loose" but then cuts out when iggy runs out and accidently kicks his cord out. chris is right on it though and ron doesn't even stop playing - we're off! trippy hearing the bass w/out the speakers on the deck and these g-k's kind of have a brittle sound to them - it was just impossible to really check when the hall was empty but I adjust by using the tone controls on the bass itself. I've never played one of these before (this longscale kind) but somehow I'm not clamming any flats or sharps, even w/the different spacing on the frets - lucky watt. the crowd is pumped, big time. some beers fly up towards us but there's a very positive vibe from them, very happening. "down on the street" follows and when iggy tries to climb my amps to hump them, they tumble. instead of them just being belted together, we should've belted them to the cases they're sitting on as well. no matter, iggy's still climbing up them as jos, chris and nobby struggle to lift them back up - wild! lucky watt again, the sound never cuts out as the cables all stayed connected. then we're into "1969" and you can start to feel the heat cuz there's 'pert-near no fresh air coming in here and it's getting like shvitz (steam bath). the bass stays in tune good but the sound is not so punch or consistent - still not terrible though and quite adequate. thanks again to jos. I am shaking my self much and just going off cuz what a relief everything worked out... my little bass will get where it get when it does, at least I'm here and I'm celebrating by going off much. "I wanna be your dog" has ig's first stage dive and man, do the berliners roar when he goes flying - wow! I've never heard something like this at our gigs before, intense. I'm inspired much and really go for it w/the next one, "tv eye" and even get on my knees and put my head into ron's amp speakers. brain flossing any jetlag w/the wail upclose of ron asheton is a most excellent antidote - I am both lit and cleansed! clean enough for the next tune, "dirt" and I'm wondering how it's gonna sound w/this bass. I turn down both volumes some (it's got one for each pickup - I like just one master volume so you can preserve your "blend" but that's what the situation is here so I ain't complaining). it's ok, not too woofy. this amps sure are harsh though in the high to high-mids, there's hardly any roundness. iggy sings this one great. well, I love his voice on everything stooges but tonight I am touched by a trippy aspect of this one - it's hard for me to express right here in words but in those moments I was 'pert-near crying. well, we blast next into "real cool time" and I go off. a little tough to transfer my playing to this longer scale but I focus hard. seems this bass likes to "dink" so I watch that and even keep the chords down an octave. iggy solicits invites onto the stage and this over six foot six guy has him quick in a headlock but not a mean one. it's intense to see though, damn. the stage is full of cats dancing for "no fun" and they raise ig up like a sacrafice to be thrown into a volcano! they cool about that and we have a blast - one guy is singing the ending "c'mon" parts right in face so I holler them right back at him, a trippy exchange. "1970" next and it's hard for me to hear the groove which is 'pert-near insane cuz scotty is slamming it down righteously but I'm lost for the first few bars - aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh - my only big clam of the night. I do get it together w/ig's singing helping me out - seems the sound is getting more blurry as the gig goes on which is kind of the way the shows go. whatever, I gotta a current of whupass travelling through me and I am not going to have it pushed out by dwelling on that. like ig's told us before, "good bands recover" so I do just that. then "fun house" and some funky jam, this tune is so happening to have here in the set. in the "l.a. blues" part at the end, I stick in some coltrane "love supreme" licks along w/some chaotic flails, much respect to the man. we follow all that crazyness w/the fat groove of "skull rings" where my part trims down to one mantra of a bass lick. ig sits on a monitor wedge up front to sing "dead rock star" and we finish up the main dealio w/"little electric chair" where I try to shake my hardest, like I'm very much strapped into such a contraption w/the switch all the way thrown. we run off stage port and iggy tells us where we're going next. we're back on and into "not right" which comes off smokin'. then it's "little doll" and though scotty's starting it off for me w/his high-hat, it's still gets off when the rest of his kit comes in and I have to correct to get back on board - I think he's coming in on the one w/the pickup instead of the and before the one but I love scotty so and would never want it to sound like I'm putting blame or pointing fingers at someone I respect so. I kind of wish we maybe could change this around and have the drums come in first and let me follow! it's a good jam though and iggy has such good dance moves for it - shit, he's got great dance moves for the whole gig! he is sure righteous to watch while you're helping him work it, to express this right is totally beyond my ability w/words - they fail me (or I fail them!). we end the night's gig w/"I wanna be your dog" - the reprise version w/mister mackay on sax. again, I come over to ron's side and press my head into his speaker boxes for his solo cuz I need a double-dose of the brain floss to really put the nail in all that sitdown duty I had to do for the flights. we're done and off, whoa.
iggy comes to our room right away and talks about the show. he gives much respect to the berliners for being open and supportive w/their emotions cuz usually they can be as jaded as a nyc or hollywood crowd and just stand there w/folded arms but this definitely was not the case here tonight. he's really up w/what we threw down and it feels very much like a great way to start a tour, just full out and exciting. then there's talk about stuff you'd never think that would be talked about right after gig but hey, this is the stooges where there's no fronting. ig pours some of this wine that he explains to me is a haup-modoc, one from grapes high on a hill and it tastes wild, puckers up my tastes. like perry when I was helping him w/bass in porno for pyros, ig is learning me about wines cuz I know little about such. we talk like an hour, some concern for the three-in-a-row stretch we got w/sweden, denmark and serbia but it's good it's in the first week of the tour so we can jump over that hump early. my intention is to play the best I can and help w/any strain cuz you gotta understand that iggy really gives it his all every gig and that's got some heavy toll w/it. this ain't sleepwalking, you know. this whole time after the gig I've been sitting on the couch vibrating like wacked-up washing machine stuck in spin cycle w/one rubber foot missing. I just can't help it cuz I'm lit and the adrenaline is just wailing through me. iggy's sitting next to me and I'm thinking he must think I'm one of those old time machines you put the quarter into to shake up the bed. I really got charged up from that gig, truly.
time to drive back to the ho and about halfway there, cold sweat starts pouring from my forehead and I plummet into a state of weakness I can't believe has swallowed me. I've never had something like this happen to me before. the van pulls up to the four seasons front door and there's lots of kids w/stuff to sign. I can do a couple but I'm fading fast and gotta try and make it to my room. I feel bad I can't do more but this is serious, damn. maybe a blood sugar crash or something? for sure the adrenaline's run out. wouldn't you know it, my schlussel (key) is spaced so I gotta have the desk cat make me another which w/a look at my passport, he's happy to do (I always have my passport on me as a guest in someone elses land - even on stage!) but I don't know if I can keep standing. I'm not loaded or anything, just a half-glass of wine so it's not intoxication, it's something weird. thank god my room's door right near the elevator cuz I just make it in and then collapse on the deck. I lay very still, the sweat just flooding out of me and I feel so so weak. after like a half hour, I'm able to get my coat off but stay as motionless as possible as I try and recover. I get out of the totally soaked levis and run a bath, all very slowly and deliberate. the bath helps me big time and I feel strong enough to wash my blue button shirt (actually, they're snaps - it's one some young man gave me in madison after a secondmen gig) in the sink. this is the shirt I wear during the day and I don't want gag out my bandmates. I then get back on the deck w/the four huge pillows they got here and put them against the endtable, drape a blankie over me and konk like that, grateful I somehow got through weird shit.
tuesday, june 29, 2004 - bonn, germany
since I soaked last night, no need to after I pop at nine (whoa, late for watt) so I make right for the hatch and down to the lobby in minutes after swallowing my daily enzymes, flaxseed and fish oil plus an aspirin. no frei frustuck here (free breakfast) so I start hoofing down charlottestrasse and find a coff pad down there after a bunch of blocks. I have two of them and two of these long skinny hotdog-like wurst w/a little roll and mustard for three euros (about $3.50), econo and good - a happening snap w/the skins on the dogs. a little way further I get some ibuprofen at a apotheke (drugstore) just in case soreness wails up on me too intense one morning. I don't like to use these if I don't have to (the one aspirin I take daily is actually for my heart) but sometimes my fingers get like hotdogs themselves (not the skinny kind either) the morning after a gig and man, do they ache. the weather's sunny and cali-like as I hoof the streets. I find a post office and get postage, then find a shop w/both postcards (I get one of the wall, "die mauer") and study a town map hanging in the window and learn we're right near the bradenburg gate and so I go up to unter den linden and turn west there. like an idiot though, I forgot to recharge the digicamera battery so I can't get many shots. I go past the gate and get some of this big memorial the russians built for their soviet victory over the nazis - some huge red army soldier stature on top of roman-like architecture w/his hand out in front of him, as if to gesture "down, boy!" I remember walking down this same road but the other way w/dezo of black flag when us minutemen toured w/them here in february of 1983 - it was cold and the wall was up and guarded by cold-stare types w/their guns. I remember me and dezo tripping at graffiti - one in particular I still remember, it said, "I laugh at you, yankee." dezo was my "roomie" - when we actually weren't all konking in the same room and he was a great cat to be w/and rap to. that was my first time in europe - w/out music I would've never been able to see 'pert-near any of these pads outside of pedro. another reason I've never taken it for granted.
I get back to the ho and pack. today's a day off but we're flying to the town we're playing tomorrow today, bonn. that's where the capital of west germany was before re-unification and moving it back here. we head back to where we played last night cuz the tempelhof field across the way is where the jet is that we're using to get around this tour, a bombardier challenger 600. it's wider than the one we used a couple weeks ago but has two motors near the tail like that one. there's a stewardess too so rik don't have to sub for one (that was his graciousness - no one demanded that of him) and she passes out german versions of tapas to us. scotty's given a steak w/veggies and plops the steak on my little plate and chows the veggies. thank you, scotty. I'm two-thirds through liza picard's "elizabeth's london" (life in london, 1558-1603) and read another couple of chapters during the hour it takes to get to bonn. we're driven to the dorint sofitel in the venusberg part of town and it's one of those fancy-type pads in the woods and not next to any shops or anything. like at the airport, you're at the mercy of what they got. after some time I spend chimping diary, me, ron, scott, steve and eric get a cab ride into where the shops are and chow at a greek pad called posiden. I have a "teller" kind of chow (there's like eight kinds) which turns out to be a plate w/salad, gyro meat, a pork chop and potatoes which goes down real good. we go back and head up to scotty's room for haysh-machen. he shows me a great book he's got on birds of michigan and I'm intrigued by it. since pedaling on a bike again for the last eight years after twentytwo w/out, I've really learned to listen for birds again and find them righteous. scotty's got a bird near his room that does scales and he points out to me when they sing out. wild.
we go down to the bar and scotty gets me a wine. a glass of wine each night for my heart - like the aspirin in the morning to keep down stress. not enough for being a buzzhead which is ok for me cuz of my long tenure w/jim beam whiskey. I'm stronger laying off that - I stopped drinking beer years and years ago but man, did I love whiskey. actually, I still do but it's good for me not be like my old ways - the only thing constant is change. I ask scotty what he thinks happen to me w/that collapse shit when I got back to the ho last night and he said it was probably the jet lag catching up w/me since I didn't have any chest pains though the other symptoms were like a heart attack. damn, that was scary. scotty enlightens me to all kinds of stuff and so does ron (each in their own way) - the asheton brothers are sure interesting cats to be around and learn from. steve mackay too, I have to say. speaking of steve, he's here at the bar paying ten euros a shot for old grand dad - an econo bourbon back in the u.s. and steve tells the bartender that who responds w/pointing at all the other liquors and saying, "they cost eleven." five of these end of costing steve the equivalent of sixty u.s. bucks. damn! I ask all of them what their favorite song was last night cuz that gig is still wailing on my mind, I dug it so. scotty picks "not right" and ron says, "all of them." steve can't decide. I myself really liked "tv eye" - I just wonder sometimes what's going on these cats mind's about their own music cuz it's such a mindblow to me to be playing w/them. we have good talk but then after a bit tiredness is on me just too strong and I must "retire" which means hit the deck and konk which I do after making sure to get quick back to my cabin. nothing like last night but tuckered nonetheless.
wednesday, june 30, 2004 - bonn, germany
man, I had a weird time last night. I konked at like eleven but then at two am, I popped and couldn't konk for a few hours and so just laid there on the deck, wandering w/my mind even though I was trying hard to get back konked. tiny sleep is the quick way to get sick on tour, big time. I do get back konked but not from trying but rather from "not trying" to - funny how that works, huh? I pop at nine and coff it up, doing up some earl grey tea too using the hot water from the sink (the shit's that hot). 'pert-near twentythree u.s. dollars worth in euros for breakfast so I pass on that shit - I'll chow at the gig. I chimp diary to catch up and then continue w/reading the picard account of sixteenth century london. trippy bird songs float in through the window. I wanted to hoof down there in the woods but it's totally canopied and I have no hat - the idea of some ticks or whatever falling in my hair keeps me inside - scardy-cat watt.
three pm and we're van-shuttled to the museumseile, the venue for tonight. bob dylan played here last night. it's an outdoor affair which is great cuz it's easier to keep cool rather than the shvitz-like situation in berlin which was inside but there's problems w/sound levels. knobman (hard to say that now, given the enlightenment my english teammates have hipped me to) rik's gonna have his hands full w/restrictions. in fact, he's got that w/soundcheck and I have to have my bass down really low. it's ok w/me though... hell, I did a tour in europe w/just a direct box send after the rental amp blew up on the first gig. he's says, "I know you have to feel it" but I tell him not to worry cuz the picture - the whole sound - comes first and the idiot bass player's ego has just gotta be checked in for the greater good so no problem, really. I'm here to aid and abet - not compete, truly. this gig here's the first one I get to use my little gibson bass w/its new pickup cuz lufthansa got it to the ho in berlin when the gig was done. w/its short scale, it's easier on my fingers and hopefully the team will like the sound w/the new pickup (the pickup is the component that translates the vibration of the string you're plucking into electrical energy so it can be amplified and rumble peoples' bowels). I know what it sounds like cuz I just did some dos gigs w/kira in the prairie part of canada but I also hurt it a little but cuz of pounding on the bass (part of the shtick I use to wrestle it) and pushing the pickup down through its mounting. jos and chris help w/cutting some foam rubber up and stuffing it under the pickup to help support it. I am crude sometimes in my operation of things, though I don't try to be. I just get emotional or maybe more accurate, spastic. we do "no fun" w/jos singing and then we're done. the guys go back to the ho but I stay cuz it just wears on me to go back and forth and anyway, if I need to konk, there's a bed here right in the dressing room! seems they're like resident things for artists maybe - this whole complex isn't just for rock gigs but lots of stuff. there's trays up on the table full of small bottles of body wash/soap shampoo whatever for the showers in here too. this stuffs excellent for washing outfits in the sink and there's like thirty of them so I borrow ten. the laundry costs in these hos are
outrageous so I'm doing my own.
there's an ethernet connect and I upload the dos tinytour diary I chimped already. I also fix last stooges tour spiel where I fucked up and called rik "ric" - sorry about that. I then realize I fucked up by not bringing a tshirt to soundcheck cuz now what's my outfit for tonight's show? I can't wear this blue plaid shirt w/the snaps - that's out of line for me so I tell roadboss eric and he suggests one the shirts that's being sold mersh. big time corny to wear a shirt w/the name of the band you're in printed on it but eric says to turn it inside-out, yes! thank you eric. now I look basic black which would work in nyc (!), it'll work here. I put my john coltrane pin on to make it special. six bells and time for chow. I already had some chili but now here's some broccoli and cauliflower (big pieces) along w/tiny chicken drumstics and pork chops w/out the bone. not schnitzel, which is pork all breaded and fried up but pork chops like back in the u.s., just missing the bone. it's good chow. this english cat named ian joins us and he's nice peeps, likes minutemen and fIREHOSE too. I ask him to take pictures w/the digicamera when the gig goes on and he agrees. understand, it's tough for watt to do this when he's working the bass - impossible, really. at the other chow table is the opening band (they also played first at the berlin gig), a polish one called myslovitzh and I introduce myslef to them - our main tourboss, henry, (who's not w/us this time) gave me a cd and told me about them. they're nice cats and have kind of a psychedelic sound. I go back to the dressing room and pace to burn off some nervous craziness. scotty, ron and steve show up at 7:30 and we're to go on in an hour. the weather is righteous, all sun but not hot or humid. stays light late too cuz of our latitude and it being summer.
iggy comes in a gives us the pre-gig briefing. he wants a heavier charge at the end of "dead rock star," like a herd of rhinos stomping. we're keeping the set the same but cutting "little doll." we're trek down to the stage (I use the stairs and the skip the elevator whenever I can) and it's gigtime. we bust loose w/"loose" and the gig is on. of course some cups of beer come flying up (do these cats from different towns call each other up to make sure they repeat the same ritual?) but the crowd is in a great spirit and there's no folded arms and blank stares though I don't watch them hardly ever cuz my focus is on the "conductor" - the iggster. "cuz I'm loose!" - boom! we're right into "down on the street" and this time there's no bass cabinets tumbling when ig climbs up them though nobby's right behind to make sure. "1969" next and though I know there's noise restrictions and maybe we're sounding tiny, it sure doesn't feel like it, no sir. iggy's working the stage great and the asheton brothers are on fire. "I wanna be your dog" follows and sure feels great to work my own little bass but I'm wondering how it's sounding - you can't really tell, standing this close to the amps. I put all my trust in knobman rik to do the right thing. it's funny, when I tell him that he says back to me he's only in charge of turning everything up! "tv eye" hits and hits hard - whoa! we're always going over the "ram it!" part and how to do it right offstage and tonight we do just as we plan though I have to say the band's usually right together no matter what happens, it's a tight ship. some calmness then w/"dirt" and then revving right up w/"real cool time." one young german man comes up on stage to dance and sing w/ig but he gets a deathgrip on the mic and has to be slightly encouraged by jos to give it up. seems he was just a little too excited and not belig though. more cats come up for "no fun" and it's a party. one cat gives me his band's cd - too much! tonight I get "1970" down, right off the bat and feel good about making up for berlin's clam on my part here. this tune is a solid plow. it's alway where mister steve mackay makes his entrance - "steve, bloooooooow!" then some ron improv guitar ringouts into bigtime groovecity w/"fun house" next, yeah! blast off a teardown w/"l.a. blues" - oomph, yowww! and jump in the ride w/the "skull rings" loop, round and round, "forever, forever, forever, forever!" pause. "dead rock star" next and I try to really charge hard on the ending, truly. "c'mon stooges!" yells iggy and we're into "little electric chair" (I shake shake shake my eyeballs up into my head so hard, I can't open my eyelids) and then we're off. ig calls out "not right" and "(double) dog" - we're back on and playing again but somethings up - chris gave ron a guitar totally wacked out of tune and I'm bathed in a new understanding of the term "jazzy dissonance" though it's weighing way heavy on the sour-ass side. holy cow. we end it kind of flubbed too... oh well - a unique interpretation, special for the bonn folks tonight. we make up for it w/a really strong "...dog" and I come over to ron and steve to work their side of the stage, putting my head up against ron's speakers when it's time for him to wail his solo. alright! I then get back to my side but move up to the front of the stage for the first time in the gig, just to check what my bass is sounding like (you just don't get a real picture close up on your amp w/this kind of a instrument) and wow, does it sound aggressive... I'm quite surprised! you can hear the notes though too, trippy. not so much braille involved. wow. w/this tune done, the gig's done and I run off stage, grabbing ron by the shoulders but it's an idiot move cuz ron moved an eight hundred pound boat a few weeks ago and strained it. stupid watt, caught up in the excitement. sorry ron. I run down the stairs and all the way back to the dressing room to drink some cold water (the water on stage is always warm, yech). boy, that was a great gig, I'm thinking. even though it was outside, I sweated my whole outfit as thoroughly as I did in berlin. that's ok though, totally ok! ron comes in, followed by scotty. eric's got a fan for scotty spinning right away so he doesn't have that swelter going he did last gig. ron has to tell me to pipe down cuz I'm hollering instead of talking, too hyped-up on the adrenaline. stupid watt. I'm just so exicted. iggy's got a friend he brings over and talks about the gig w/us. we have w/recounting what happened w/"not right" it was not right! we learn bowie got hit w/a lollipop at a gig and walked off. oops. ig offers me some italian borelo wine and I like it much, a good taste on me. he also says he likes the sound of the new pickup in my bass. I'm most grateful. he liked this gig and was impressed how nice the germans have been at these two shows. the boss for these german gigs, peter, comes and thanks us all - he shakes my hand and is very nice to me, thank you. thank you too to ig cuz he leaves some steak left on the deck where he's been chowing it and I cut a chunk of it and chow it, the other cats on the team having a good laugh. hey, don't let the meat loaf.
finally the van comes to get us, we're 'pert-near the last ones at the pad. we get back to the ho and after a bit, are talking w/each other downstairs. we got three guys from england w/us: jos the stage man, rik the soundman and knobby the driver and helper man. nobby's friend ian's here too, he got some good pictures of us playing and only one of the shots had his finger covering the lense. all three of our english crew guys have different accents so I ask where they're from. jos says his batlely in yorkshire, rik says brighton and nobby is south london. all that would fit between l.a. and san diego but still such a difference in the accents. I like it though and dig hearing how they say things almost as much as what they're saying. I know, I'm weird but much respect to these guys along w/chris, eric and art too (the u.s. ones). we're all one team to sail this stooge-trip true.
I am spent and konk crumple-like on the deck, forgetting to hit the fucking light. damn.
thursday, july 1, 2004 - stockholm, sweden
I pop at seven and need coff... yesterday it cost me four and half euros (like five bucks u.s.) and today I can spend that again - the only bones I'm spending in this clip joint. I'm gonna hold off for chow 'till we get on the plane cuz there's eats there for nada. this is a prob w/hos in the boonies and away from other pads on the street - no choice for econo dudes. I go down to get the coff and this cat comes up to me while I'm waiting - he's u.s. and from nyc, a very nice man named jimmy web. he gets me more coff when I finish mine and tells me some neat things. what a mindblow to learn he was given johnny thunder's rosary beads! he's gotta bail though - he's going back to the u.s. w/art's son. bye jimmy.
man, I'm a little sore in the fingers from last night's gig, they're like dowels and coming on to looking like 'gars. this happens and like me knees, it's something I've had to learn to live w/and get through. I will not let it overwhelm me. I chimp diary and weave tour spiel. noon comes and we drive to the airport, the freeways 'pert-near plugged like back home. damn. we get finally get there though and the challenger 600 jet is waiting. we're flying to stockholm in sweeden, maybe forty minutes south (by air) of the gig tomorrow in skelleftea. this flight's a little over an hour and what a sight out the windows as we come in - lots of green and tons of islands. when we get in, we're taken to the center of town and where we're staying, the grand hotel, right on the water. the skies have clouds but the sun is brilliant, shirt-sleeve weather. there's a huge tall ship called the "af chapman" tied up to what turns out to be a small island when I cross the bridge. a closer examination shows it's now a youth hostel. as we were riding in, I thought I saw a stack and it's hull was metal. I second-guessed myself and thought again it was wood and only sailed powered. nope, the hull is metal and though it's only wind powered, there is a stack and there must be a steam engine of some kind. when I think of stockholm, I first think of the coltrane records recorded live here but there's massive civic buildings all about and docks everywhere. it's pretty here. the bus driver said almost one of every four swedes has a boat. there's lots of sightseeing ones - I'm also told though there's just twentyeight islands (just!) in the immediate area, the whole archipelago is like thirtyfive thousand! damn. I hoof all about and snap snaps. I get a "chorizo" hotdog for twentyfive krona (about $3.50 u.s.) and chow it by the water.
I then go to my room on the fourth floor. the tv's on w/my name on it. what? oh, it's something the ho must do to "welcome" you. flipping the channel, there's the bbc w/saddam hussien in an iraqi court. a few days ago, an iraqi government was installed a few days earlier than had been announced and now they're going to try this man for crimes against humanity. I've always though him an asshole and a gangster but when I hear one of the charges is his war against iran, it makes me think about hearing u.s. cia people giving him help w/intellegence about iran or something - am I thinking right? I got the same flasbacks about revisions or whatever when they we're talking about ex-president reagan too. I know this is an iraqi situation but this thug suddam is being held by u.s. jailers. I guess he has to be. I'm glad he's not in control of the nightmare machine he had going but things gotta come clean if the u.s. wants respect. it might sound strange from a u.s. bass player who's right now guests of foreigners but that's what I feel. what gets me too is he says this trial thing is being done for the u.s. election and I have my suspicions but I'm not him! see what can happen on a day off?! the focus wanders... I go back to reading "elizabeth's london" and the way the cooked their chow back then before falling into a deep konk.
I wake up at 'pert-near eleven at night and take the stairs down. kind of like m.c. escher painting, looking down through all the floors. I realize those fucking mosquito bites have finally relented and stopped hurting. I can dig that. that pulled ligament or whatever in my left ankle is gone for good too now though it would go away whenever I got some mobility going like walking on it. weird to be taking such kind of inventories now, huh? my phone never had a sound when I first got in the room so I wonder if anyone tried to call cuz I sure couldn't call out. maybe that's ok cuz I must've needed that konk. what I know I need to do is get some levis clean cuz we got three gigs right in a row coming up and there's just one clean pair in my bag. what's righteous is this electric towel dryer on the wall in the head so when I get back up into my room, I'm gonna use some of the little bottles of liquid soap to wash a couple pair of gig-fouled jeans in the tub. levis dry forever slow but these pipe things the towels are on are pretty hot and I bet they can do the job. I hoof around a bit and then do just that. I konk right after.
friday, july 2, 2004 - skelleftea, sweden
I pop at six and ready myself for the free breakfast shovel. down the m.c. escher stairs and into the chow pad art of the ho at seven bells - yes, I'm the first in! a europe morning chow means tables full of stuff, all different kinds. I get some scrambled eggs from a trough, some bacon and sausages from their respective ones, a whole tomato that's been baked w/some kind of cheese sprinkled on it and some really dark bread. the coffee cups are the size of soup bowls - quite not the norm for europe - and the lady who comes to fill it is named matilda and plays bass too. she says the guys she knows say, "girls can't play bass" but I say that's a bunch of shit tell her about kira. round two has me get yogurt, pears, strawberries, and these trippy things that are like cranberries. whew, I'm filled up - time to hoof. rain outside so I use the umbrella that the room has in it. I don't have much experience w/umbrellas so it's a little tough but I make it to the train station and walk around the city streets, I go through a little park w/this huge old church called saint clara that's pretty neat. dear old stockholm. I've got a lot of coltrane recordings from here in the early sixties, cool town w/it's own look.
I go up to my room and chimp diary, through the window I see the sun come out and dry the skies out - wow, what a change! after I finish my entry it's 'pert-near time to leave so I go down and chow another "chorizo" hot dog down by the water. they got this trippy art buoy of a finger (no, not that one) pointing skyward, bobbing about. I go back up to gather my stuff and stop by scotty's room. he's got a little smiling buddha statue he puts up when he sets up camp and I ask him if I can borrow his little dhammapada book. a huge doubledecker bus comes to pick us up, funny. me and scotty see this huge swan take off from the water, damn! bye bye, stockholm. we head to the airport and get on the jet for skelleftea. musical chairs w/the where we sit, I'm now in the aft next to ron instead of my regular one up front by the hatch and facing rearward. beautiful sweeden out the window as we head north, all pine trees below. a bus brings us to town and a ho called scandic, kind of mo-six job and I lower the mask to konk right away cuz we're supposed to go on at a quarter of one in the morning. I'm out like that and pop at eleven. we're brought to the main square of the town and trek up these tenuous stairs (though they're not as bad as the one's at gabe's oasis out in iowa city) to the dressing room next to the outside stage. the sky is so insane - not a trace of night, in fact the sun's still up!
the band before us, I think they're called rasmus is playing stuff sounding like 80s power ballads. they're going on and on, kind of a bogart. since I saw all that forest coming here, I got a screaming trees tshirt on from their first tour (I took them cats on their first two, opening for fIREHOSE - great band. there was a gig at saint andrew's hall in detroit we did which is where ron asheton saw me play for the first). pace and pace around the room, waiting. on stage time comes and then goes, we're like seventeen minutes late when we finally go on. since we're flying right after the gig, I have my 'puter backpack w/me and hand it to chris w/a plea for him to guard it w/his life. since nobby's driving our gig to novi sad, I'm using two rented ampeg svt rigs. wow, what a difference from the gallien-krueger ones! I can dig it and even more once I tweak the eq some as we blast into "loose." the crowd seems pretty squarejohn, reminding me of that new orleans show we did last year - mtv spoonfed and apparently unaware of them being part of the equation that makes an intense gig. I'm not saying this about the folks up front who are giving us back what we're give them but those giving the gawk stare. so what, we charge on w/"down on the street" and I'm it good. just before we left that scandic ho, there was a 'puter in the lobby I checked email w/and there was one for me from thurston, who's on tour w/sonic youth in australia and it had a shot he snapped of some sidewalk graffiti while walking around. I showed it to ron and he busted up - it read "play some fucking stooges!" yes, that's what we are in fact doing right now. "1969" and "I wanna be your dog" are pummeling, really intense but when "...dog" finishes, iggy hollers "more dirt" and I'm confused - does he want us to go into dirt? no, what he wants is the guitar sound to get more grind so chris comes out and knobs that in. the real freight train for me tonight is "tv eye" - holy cow! I only have to start a tiny twitch in my body to set off a shake in me that has no tomorrow. it's someone crack a whip really fast over and over, right through my bones - from deep in the middle of them. the sound all about on the stage is ecstatic, making me ecstatic and not too unlike a dervish - I wish I had stronger knees so I could spin as such. no matter, it's truly good enough to ride this little bass, hugging on just to hold her. a little respite w/"dirt" and then full boar again w/"real cool time" - iggy wants the kids to join us onstage but the security's being uptight so he calls them fascists. one cat makes it up eventually and by the time we're into "no fun" we got a little group of them up w/us, having a blast. there's one guy w/the same dave alexander shirt scotty gave me for the first gig last year in coachella on and he opens up his jacket to show me before dancing off, wild. I kind of go off maybe a little too much on the bass, making it a little tough for ron to see where to plant the ending - I got watch to make sure I don't noodle the shit into top ramen land. iggy tells the crowd we're making more noise than them and there's only five of us, that's a hoot. like I was saying before, lots of this crowd is pretty passive, like that gig in new orleans during the voodoo fest there. the "1970/fun house/l.a. blues/ron's free form jam/skull rings" medley is next - all the songs tonight are played pretty close together but these in particular are like on one big roll and roll hard. I realize I've hit the switch and turned on all three pickups by accident and it's only by "...rings" that I correct that issue - what a dope. I'm still getting familiar w/my new setup here w/the little bass... one pickup on has way more punch, especially w/this new one so I've gotta remember that and make sure it's the only one on. we go into "dead rock star" and try out the new end part w/steve going more off on his sax, helping make it more of the "rhino charge" that ig wants. we end up w/"little electric chair" and then off to the side of the stage and wait for the word from our boss. iggy calls out "not right" and then "double dog" so we run back and get that under way. "not right" is way tight and together - night and day compared w/yesterday's gig. we finish the show off w/the reprise of "I wann be your dog" like we've been doing and then it's back up those rickety stairs. wild, it's lighter now than when we started and it's almost 2:20 am! coming off stage, there's these two backstage guys who mumble "great show" to iggy (I'm right behind him). he says back "great show?" and then hollers right in their faces, maybe an inch or two away "great fucking band!" whoa.
in our room, I notice blood all over steve's right arm. he tells us art had him hold his bag during the "crowd control" part where we have kids come up and join us on stage and a buckle caught bound up and cut him. looks intense but it's actually very superficial. he treats it as a badge of honor though and gets into it. I'm sure glad he wasn't hurt bad. he goes on and on about televion cameras focusing in on it and how he's gonna be a "big mtv star" now. that's funny. I guess they are gonna show this gig on a scandinavian segment of the euro mtv in a few days, according to him. ig comes upstairs to join us and we rap about the gig. also, like most times, I get to hear stories about their old days and that's always a trip. iggy talks about learning the shuffle on the drums w/the prime movers, about how once this bass player from a blues band put his arm around his shoulder and told him, "play that kick drum like you mean it" and he never has forgotten that. ron tells this story about going to this guy's pad to go get some gold beatle boots the guy borrowed but the guy told him he had stepped in dog shit w/them so they got thrown out in the alley. ron said it was night so he was out there w/a cigarette lighter, looking all over for them! I chow some cumquats that are like how they come off the bush, nestled in leaves. I've never seen them like that, trippy.
another doubledecker (like those buses you see for tourists all over europe) ride to the airport and we get on the challenger jet for a two hour flight to denmark. hard to believe it's dawn but there the sun is, painting the clouds righteous w/orange. we've learned the names of the crew now: nikolas is the captain, kris is the co-pilot and and jana is the flight attendant who fixes us up a great chow. I'm back by the hatch again. the adrenaline's worn off and it's very hard for me to stay awake, I'm beat so. it just takes a lot out of me to play like I do - not trying that's such so special or anything - trying to explain why I am what I am. we land at the airport near copenhagen and are taken to the phoenix hotel downtown. it's six bells in the morning and I'm sleeping walking but I force myself into the tub so I can soak the gig filth off. damn, this tub fills really slow - like a halfhour and it's still only half way. I'm so oblivious, I try to scrub w/the soap not realizing it still has its plastic wrapper on it. dumbfuck. I was kind of thinking it was some kind I wasn't used to. I eventually figure it out and get clean. then before I know it, it's sleepytown.
saturday, july 3, 2004 - copenhagen, denmark
I think I konked while still drying off cuz I find the towel wrapped around me when I pop at noon. good, six hours worth of rest. so glad though I got that konk before we played too cuz I would've really been in fatigueland. I dress and hoof it out the pad and onto the street. queen margarite's palace is down a couple of blocks, first I take a bunch shots of this huge domed church and then enter the courtyard. there's a changing of a guard that's got cats w/hats like the ones at england's buckingham palace and kids are fooling around marching behind them. people are taking each other's pictures standing next to the ones outside their little guardhouses too, funny. the water's right next door and I explore that, the docks and rowhouses painted up all bright. the sun is out right now but there's some heavy clouds and sure enough, when it's time for me to get back, it starts to pour.
we get taken in a van to roskilde, where the festival. we get to the orange tent backstage area and roadboss eric tells us the gig's a sellout, over sixty thousand people. damn. this friend of jos, ann charlotte, meets me and scotty in the mess hall. scotty asks her what she is and she says she's a muse. that's trippy, I've never heard anyone refer to themselves like that before. I go to our dressing room and ron's beat cuz he couldn't any konk this morning, he said there was a tag-team worth of vibration and noise keeping him up, just like all the goosestepping that bogarted on him in bonn. I'm glad lots of tour has desensitized me to much of that. it's hard to tour w/no konk. I'm reading scotty's dhammapada, which has sayings of the buddha from around twentyfive hundred years ago. here's one that strikes me:
who shall conquer this world
and the world of death with all it's gods?
who shall discover
the shining way of the law?
you shall, even as the man
who seeks flowers
finds the most beautiful,
understand that the body
is merely the foam of a wave,
the shadow of a shadow.
snap the flower arrows of desire
and then, unseen,
escape the king of death.
and travel on.
death overtakes the man
who gathers flowers
when with distracted mind and thirsty senses
he searches vainly for happiness
in the pleasures of the world.
death fetches him away
as a flood carries off a sleeping village.
death overcomes him
when with distracted mind and thirsty senses
he gathers flowers.
he will never have his fill
of the pleasures of the world.
the bee gathers nectar from the flower
without marring its beauty or perfume.
so let the master settle, and wander.
look to your own faults,
what you have done or left undone.
overlook the faults of others.
like a lovely flower,
bright but scentless,
are the fine but empty words
of the man who does not mean what he says.
like a lovely flower,
bright and fragrant,
are the fine and truthful words
of the man who means what he says.
like garlands woven from a heap of flowers,
fashion from your life as many good deeds.
the perfume of sandalwood,
rosebay or jasmine
cannot travel against the wind.
but the fragrance of virtue
travels even against the wind,
as far as the ends of the world.
how much finer
is the fragrance of virtue
than of sandalwood, rosebay,
of the blue lotus or jasmine!
the fragrance of sandalwood and rosebay
does not travel far.
but the fragrance of virtue
rises to the heavens.
desire never crosses the path
of virtuous wakeful men.
their brightness sets them free.
how sweetly the lotus grows
in the litter of the wayside.
its pure fragrance delights the heart.
follow the awakened
and from among the blind
the light of your wisdom
will shine out, purely
and one to really take to heart:
how long the night to the watchman,
how long the road to the weary traveler,
how long the wandering of many lives
to the fool who misses the way
if the traveler cannot find
master or friend to go with him,
let him travel on alone
rather than with a fool for company.
"my children, my wealth!"
so the fool troubles himself.
but how has he children or wealth?
he is not even his own master.
the fool who knows he is a fool
is that much wiser.
the fool who thinks he is wise
is a fool indeed.
does the spoon taste the soup?
a fool may live all his life
in the the company of a master
and still miss the way.
the tongue tastes the soup.
if you are awake in the presence of a master
one moment will show you the way
the fool is his own enemy.
the mischief he does is his undoing.
how bitterly he suffers!
why do what you will regret?
why bring tears upon yourself?
do only what you do not regret,
and fill yourself with joy.
for a while the fool's mischief
tastes sweet, sweet as honey.
but in the end it turns bitter.
and how bitterly he suffers!
for months the fool may fast,
eating from the tip of a grass blade.
still he is not worth a penny
beside the master whose food is the way.
fresh milk takes time tour.
so a fool's mischief
takes time to catch up with him.
like the embers of a fire
it smolders within him.
whatever a fool learns,
it only makes him duller.
knowledge cleaves his head.
for then he wants recognition,
a place before other people,
a place over other people.
"let them know my work,
let everyone look to me for direction."
such are his desires,
such is his swelling pride.
one way leads to wealth and fame,
the other to the end of the way.
look not for recognition
but follow the awakened
and set yourself free.
good stuff for me to chew on. scotty says he has some other books he wants me to check out too and I can dig that. chow comes up and shovel some steak, broccoli and salad - it goes down good. I'm gonna wear the first tshirt the meat puppets ever slung for themselves, an oldie. the band before us goes on and it's a trip to hear, they're called morbid angel. total cookie monster singing and the drums are more like tympany for a classical piece, hardly any back beat. the guy's playing totally tippy-tap too. we're having a good time hearing it come through the walls, quite a hoot. again, we're renting backline so I go and check out what I'm playing. like last night, it's two svt stacks but it sounds like beat up tubes in the amps cuz the sound is kind of mush. it'll be good enough though.
7:30 pm comes and it's time to go on. whoa, there's a lot of folks out there and the rain stops just as we're coming on. I see a rainbow to the port as we start w/"loose" and that makes me smile. what a way to greet a band that's blowing it all the way out! it's hard for me to hear scotty's high-hat for the count in on "down on the street" but I'm there in a moment, gotta keep my focus. it's tight and furious for "1969" and "...dog" but ron accidently hits his chorus pedal before he starts "tv eye" and the sound gets blurry so I guess this got iggy singing on the wrong part of the riff but he corrects this right after the first chorus. it was kind of a dilemma for me - like what do I do, follow the drums and guitar or follow the singer? I mean the focus is definitely on the igster so shouldn't that get priority but on the other hand, it might add to the confusion and tip the whole kayak over so I decided to stay w/ron and scotty and just plow ahead, having confidence ig would steady the boat. we're all right as rain for "dirt" and it's good and tight (or "gundentite," like an old joke my pop told me a long time ago). for the first time on tour, we have none of the audience w/us on stage for "real cool time and "no fun" which is kind of a trip. the stage is up so high and the "moat" between us and the crowd so wide, it was impossible thing to get happening. iggy also told us about some kids getting trampled to death a couple of years ago at this festival so that was another thing to keep in mind. before "1970," iggy introduces the band like we were boxers going into the ring, "in this corner, weighing in at 140 pounds, from san pedro, california - minuteman mike watt" for me (he says pedro like most folks would and not "pee-dro" like us who live there but that's ok) and "weighing in at 204 pounds from detroit, rock action" for scotty and finally "at 218 pounds, ron asheton" where ron gives the curly (from the three stooges) salute. pretty funny. he missed my weight by like twentyfive pounds and I bet likewise for the asheton brothers, it was just spontaneous having some fun and it cracked us all up. this is the freight train coming off the rails tune for tonights gig and it is a wild slam. I play the whole last part on the other side of the stage, next to ron and steve - wow. ig kind of cuts ron's improv thing a little short and slams us into "fun house" but it worked great as a dynamic shift, like coming out of nowhere. it's one reason I'm always focused tight on iggy cuz he's a man of the moment and I want to be right there w/him and not lost in my own belly button lint. like the buddha saying I quoted above reads, "if you are awake in the presence of a master, one moment will show you the way." amen to that. we do a little shorter "l.a. blues" and then we're chugging tight on "skull rings" - iggy uses a ladder to get down the stage and into the crowd, wild! never seen that before. two more, the new ones "dead rock star" and "little electric chair" (though the first note I hit in "...chair" was an 'a' instead of a 'd' - doh! at least it was just one note and little but what a doof!) and we're off and in the wings. iggy calls for just "(double) ...dog" and it's roar, once again I get on my knees and bury my head in ron's amp's speaker - whoa, that feels better. the gig's done. I hug scotty as we walk off cuz man, was he slamming a mean groove tonight - what a furrow to bury the plow!
ann charlotte gets the pictures she wanted of iggy when we get back to dressing room but she had to use my camera cuz her batteries went out. iggy brings dj dangermouse, a nice cat from athens, georgia who just moved to l.a. and we talk about things a bit. he relates getting some nasty hangovers w/wine and though I don't drink enough to even get buzzed, I remember something from my younger days, "grape w/corn - pain in morn" and pass that on. he mixed a jay-z record w/a beatles one and got the "gray" album that made some news a few months ago and iggy expressed interest in working w/him. just a short time more here and then we're out to the vans, bound for the airport. rik says I did better w/not being a spaz on that pickup selector switch on my bass and he got the new pickup, which he likes a lot, all the time. thank you rik, I'm trying. while we're driving, rik's enlighten to the fact that "imperial" pints (ones from his land) are bigger than u.s. ones. that comes up when rik says it can be ten pints before he has to piss and I said, "damn" cuz that's like a gallon and half where I live! that's why people go on tours - to learn things.
we get back to where we arrived at six this morning and after a passport check (they stamp us both in and out cuz it wasn't done when we came!), we're back w/our three flightfriends and the jet they man on a two hour flight to belgrade, serbia. I chow some raw bell peppers and then a little fish. I'm sitting across from jos this flight cuz ig's where I usually sit and he's good to rap about what's in the "elizabeth's london" book cuz well, he's from england and knows a lot of stuff ("batley is a right old piece of shite," he says, refering to his home town - it's in the "doomsday book," the census done in 1066). belgrade's not the brightest city to fly over but there's some lights. a nice lady name anna takes on a bus to a lounge in the aeorodrom beograd and our passports are photocopied and returned to us while they serve us sparkling water. everyone's very nice. we're next driven to a ho called the hyatt regency belgrade which we're told is the nicest in the city. it has a gigantic lobby (I think the biggest I've ever seen) and soon we have rooms and I'm on the deck soon as I soak and scrub myself in the biggest tub yet on the tour - the knees need not have to bend. it takes like five minutes and then I'm prone and out.
sunday, july 4, 2004 - novi sad, serbia
I pop and head downstairs for some coff. they do dinar here so I trade five euros for 370 of them. the coff they drink is the turkish kind and it's really good. it's not filtered though so the last quarter of it is mud, trippy. very strong. the lady who gets it is named irena and tells me about her land, how metallica just was here and very paranoid w/lots of security and all 'till they found things calmer than they thought. it's my first time here and I have to say I didn't know what to expect - the images we've gotten over in the u.s. are mainly very negative ones. like I said though, the ho is very fancy though when I try to reach roadboss eric, he wasn't in his room. I found out he had to change it cuz there was a mouse in there - same thing happened w/iggy managerman art too. well, if they were running across my chest when I was konked, what can I say? I never saw one. I think all lands have mice. I've got a map to the town and place our ho outside of the downtown, just across the sava river. I'm going to venture out and check things out for myself. there was bombing here cuz of the kosovo nightmare five years ago but I can't see any results of that except for some election posters that have milosovic on them. I can't read the cyrillic alphabet well (comes from the greek, ours comes from the roman one) but it doesn't look like his name - it must be the hardliner who lost out. someone was telling me if he won, he was going to dedicate the election to that guy which sounds bizarre for someone on trial for war crimes in the haag! things look kind of beat up from being a little worn but there's lots folks out doing regular stuff. I don't notice a lot of police either but when you're an outsider and just dropping like I am, it's hard to know how things are really like anyway. I go across sava and into the downtown. maybe cuz of it being sunday, there's lots families w/their kids and all. the weather's like a sunny l.a. day and mild, really nice. I go to where the sava meets the river danube and there's an old fortress, beogradska tvrdava. it's a righteous view from these old walls and I sit on part of one and just relax and take it all in. watt reflecting, feeling a little bit silly. I ask this cat to take a picture of me sitting on this wall which he does and then starts talking to me in serb. there's slavs who live in pedro and maybe I can pick out one for every hundred words or less but he is undeterred and just keeps rapping. he says he knows "malli english" - little english and I tell him I can't understand what he's saying and that I'm sorry but he keeps flowing the spiel and it becomes kind of musical for me so I just listen and try to read his emotions as he's doing it and say "da" (yes) or I'm sorry, according to how it feels to me. it's pretty much a trip. he takes out a little map of the world he has and points out towns to me like vancouver, mexico city, london and los angeles. he shows me some bank statements and it appears he's relating how the dinar keeps going up and down. it's almost like a gig where you're not very familiar w/the music but are curious about how it works out. I can't be out in the sun all day or I'll get burned up so he walks w/me back to the ho, serbspeak rushing out of him like a waterfall. we pass this part of the fort where there's world war II tanks on display and I'm thinking ron asheton would sure dig seeing these. there's french, u.s., russian and german ones - even a tiger tank. I get back to the ho and thank him very much for the company.
I chimp diary and then read the rest of that dhammapada book scotty loaned me. I then konk for a bit 'till it's time for us to make the seventyfive minute trek to novi sad, where the gig is. the crew's already there so anna comes for us and it's kind of kidney buster of a ride, the road being a little intense w/some roughness. I tell ron about the tanks and then wish him a happy fourth - he says he saw fireworks last from his window at the ho, steve too. anna says the serbs celebrate an uprising they had w/the turks a long time ago on july third. ron says it was a good show and was kind of neat since he was missing the stuff going on at his lake huron pad. there's some little towns on the way and young people are out all over, celebrating school just getting out. the gig's at this tvrdava and we pass through the five hundred year old walls to get to the stage. it's called the exit festival and mtv's there to broadcast it live to the rest of the country. what I'm really digging though is meeting the promoter which is a cat named dragan who I've been in email contact for like eight years and now I finally get to meet him in person. he's righteous and it makes me really happy, big hugs from watt. he gives me this book, "guerrilla radio - rock 'n' roll radio and serbia's underground resistance" by matthew collin. there's this radio station involved w/the gig called b92 and the story's about them. I was part of a benefit for them and played live via satellite from santa monica w/nels cline and bob lee (the black gang) back in the heavy days for them on something called "netaid" where dutch and austrian folks helped them w/web resources after the milosevic regime took over their station. things are still weird - this exit festival we're playing tonight almost was scissored by politically motivated arrests in the previous weeks. everyone's glad the stooges are going on though and that includes the band, everyone's fired up. there's a cat from canada doing the chow and gives a couple of tortilla wrap things, the only thing I've had today. I'm wearing my "no falls, no balls" tshirt a snowboarder gave me. ron was a little wobbly on his legs after the drive here but gets his steam back up. we're ready to go.
a few minutes after midnight and we get led out to the stage, an outdoor affair. ig says, "let's go!' - that's the way he starts us every time and I run over to my side of the stage and man my bass, scotty right away clicking off the count for "loose" on his hihat. we're off! I look out for a moment and see serb folks as far back as my eyes let me - there's even some up in trees! they have quite an energy going - wow, the emotions from them surge like a current up onto the stage. I feel another current also - the stooges one - and it's coming up from the deck and into the bottoms of my chuck taylors, then up into my legs and exploding in my chest, putting a charge right into my brain which ricochets back down to my heart - quite a chain reaction! there's a boom camera over the starboard side of the crowd going up and down but it seems out of place. I only noticed it when iggy moved between it and mean cuz my attention is very much concentrated on our conductor, the bowsprit on this boat. it's the best this keel could ask for, believe me. it's only natural I'm down on my knees in front of my amp when ig jumps on top of it for ron's solo in "down on the street" cuz even after all these gigs in fifteen or so months the stooges have been reactivated, it's still very much a mindblow for me to realize I'm in w/these cats - the real o-mind for sure. "a year w/a very special number" - iggy prefaces "1969" and we're churning on that groove. 1969, sure but it might as well be 2009 cuz it makes perfect sense to me! "I wanna be your dog" ignites an emotional fission w/the serb folks and it seems a radiation showers us, making it hard to tell it's even night, whoa. all on board for the "tv eye" express and this train don't stop for loafers, this train. iggy cuts out the tv spiel is usually has for the chug part and the "ram it" lines come up pretty quick, seemingly surprising scotty. me and ron bind tight though and scotty gets the picture and gracefully fades a floor tom pound-pound to improvise a quick fix. good thinking. the stooges are a band fully in the moment - no autopilot here. some "dirt" to put some calm wind in our sails for a bit and then flat out w/"real cool time" and "no fun" so ig can bring up from the crowd any and all who want to let their freak flag fly along w/us on stage. wild! iggy introduces the band once again w/weight dimensions attached to our names, the boxing motif seems quite appropriate or is it a wrestling one? no matter. more freight train w/"1970" or maybe better yet, a passenger train cuz it feels very much like these serb cats here are quite well w/us, iggy has such a skill at making that "berlin wall" that seems foisted between those on stage and those off just crumble away. right before we get to the "take it down!" part of "fun house" is where I blow my clam for the night - I lose where the one is - what a fucking idiot! I can't believe I let that happened, I guess my focus wavered for a moment but that's all it takes. sometimes I hear someone say something to me when I'm playing - someone talking to me though my mind, their voice travelling miles and miles telepathically and it captivates me. it's such a fine line, one between inspiration and distraction cuz it puts such awe in me, I've never been really able to figure it out. I've got a job to do now so a few bars of lopsidedness before I find where I belong - silly watt. maybe a little subdued "l.a. blues" for me cuz I'm a little embarrassed but I do manage to yank a note off my little bass w/my teeth and try to wrestle out some of my frustration through her. it's always that way - lots of times I just love giving her hugs. we plow into "skull rings" and the band feels tight. the sound's getting a little blury as the gig goes on and it's tough to hear ig a little which makes it tough for me cuz well, he conducts w/his voice as much as he does w/his body. I move up front and for "dead rock star" and that helps cuz I'm closer to his monitors but my bass is lost. minor shit though cuz my trust is in ric getting it out to the folks anyway. "little electric chair" is the closer and we scurry down the stairs we came up on. this lady in a long white formal dress thanks ig and he does likewise in his own way. we're back up for "not right" where iggy says first, "here's the music part of the show!" wild. the added sax version of "...dog" is once again the last song of the night and man, is it a thumper. much thanks for the serbian cats for making their part of the gig equation a righteous one.
we're soon backstage and talking about the gig. ron and scotty really really dug it. same w/steve. I tell them all how glad I am the stooges did this gig, that it was a good thing. iggy brings in some local wine and it's nice. then dragan brings into our room nenad canak, the president of the parliment of vojvodina (the province where this gig is), and he comes and visits us, talking a while w/iggy. he says, "can I ask you a personal question? what do you think of jim jarmusch?" and ig tells him about the films he's done w/him. iggy's great at discussing artistic things I think, and spends the time to give a proper perspective to him. the president's a big man and walks w/a cane cuz of a motorcycle accident he recently had. he spends a good amount of time w/us, saying "rock has a good energy" and also something about "there's too many tough guys" - which is pretty much too real probably around here. there's people trying to change that though you can tell it's not easy. I know dragan's part of that and it's righteous. maybe us coming here and playing's a little part that can help a little bit somehow. it might be corny to say music can help things for the better but what the fuck. it's a trippy meeting. we say bye and I go to shake his hand and he gives me his empty wine glass - everyone laughs. it's ok, I like helping out. he shakes my hand and I give him one my "boat" stickers. our roadboss eric has me go out and talk w/this cat from an english magazine called "q" who asks great things about the stooges instead of the standard whatever, of course I'm much fired up to talk about anything regarding the band cuz they have and do inspire me so much. what I get from the stooges is the confidence to try and free myself, much respect for that. when I get back to our area, peaches and her two on-stage buddies, annabel and billi, come by and says hi, they were on the bill too and our going to open up for us in paris. peaches asks if I know what's written on the shirt I'm wearing which was given to me when I got here to the venue. I was told it meant "stop human trafficking," one of the causes being supported by the show and she's glad to know I know that. it's an important issue and has to be confronted, I think. her buddies tell me they like my "stage presence" and I'm embarrassed. I tell them I shake like that cuz I want to get off and one says, "everyone likes to get off." well, ok but this is one way I try.
after a while it's into the van for the trip back to belgrade. one more hug for dragan. another kidney belt ride though something puts it in perspective on the way - we pass a pretty bad wreck, maybe four vehicles involved w/one rolled over and smashed up pretty bad, hope no one's hurt much. trippy how the big picture looked up close puts a reality on the whole dealio. we make it safe to the ho a little after four and sueno comes right quick.
monday, july 5, 2004 - athens, greece
pop at nine (it was a late konk last night) and then hit the tub for some soaks, we're bailing at ten so I gotta move. no time for chow but I have some more of that great turkish coffee - trippy how it ain't strained and the inch of mud at the bottom of the cup when the liquid's drunk up. it's warm and sunny as we drive to the beograd aerodrome. a short wait in the room we were in when we came to get our passports done and then we're off to load up into the jet w/captain nik, kris and jana. only an hour to fly south to athens. the scenery has changed - much more like arizona here than in serbia. no trouble w/the passport part but when we try to leave the airport, a gate person (in street clothes - no uniform) searches both ron and scotty's stuff. seems random, no reason why it's the asheton brothers but the olympics are coming here next month and we did fly in from serbia so maybe that's why this cat's so uptight. though he seemed like he was going to go through every bag we brought, he stopped after going through ron's and then checked out scotty's shoulder bag as he walked through the gate. we're all cleared and a bus takes us into athens.
like I said, kind of like arizona or the mojave part of cali but then when you get into town, it's a whole different story. no open space and a sprawl of tiny streets and tons of pads. the traffic is pretty pinball-like, sort of if you were in a video game or something. motorcycles are continually racing all over and there seems to be only a few major roads -our ho's on the one named michalakopoulou and it's called stratos vassilikos, in the eastern part of the downtown. I've got a balcony the opens up to the street and wow, is it loud! traffic sounds galore. it's ok - still nothing compared to jimbo's old pad on canal near the holland tunnel in manhattan. now that shit was really LOUD. anyway, I dig the balcony cuz it means I can wash some filthy gig-stenched levis and they can dry in the breeze. there's a little market nearby and I get some liquid laundry detergent and some expresso coffee grounds. I think it is - there's the greek alphabet here instead of the roman one (the serbs used one derived from it called cyrillic but they still had roman alphabet versions of words too from the old yugoslav days). I'm not complaining cuz that seems what should be, seeing this greece but what I'm kind of frustrated about is my own ignorance factor. there are sometimes stuff written where I can know it, maybe cuz the olympics are coming. I think it's good to sometimes feel a little small cuz you seem to have ears/eyes open more so you can learn - a little humility can't hurt, right? I try to think of it being an expedition or something where I'm an explorer and actually for my own sake, I am! I can dig it. I got those coffs cuz the room has a coffee maker in it. I got some filters at the store too and I'll be to make my own brew.
something fucked happens next though. when I go back up to my room to wash my levis, I forget my little minolta digicamera is in my front shirt pocket so when I bend down to start scrubbing them, out comes the camera and right into the drink... what a dumbfuck! I can't believe what a stupid move that was, holy shit. I yanked the camera out of the water right away but it still was soaked and no way would it come on now - damn it! it seems I am bound to commit peckerhead after peckerhead move my whole fucking life. I will never learn to think things through clear enough - well, maybe some but there will come times when I just totally blow like what just happened. aaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhh, am I angry w/myself. I look in the mirror here in the head and see my face getting all red, like steam's building up inside and then I can help it, I just have to laugh. I am a fucking joke, constantly re-telling itself so of course this had to happen. time to chimp some and see if I can break the 'puter doing that.
last night the greek national team won the euro cup for soccer in portugal and the team's coming home tonight. I'm told by the desk guy (a nice cat) that they were eighty-to-one underdogs and no one thought they'd ever have a chance cuz they never have but it was upset time. matter of fact, portugal was an underdog too - all the big teams that are usually contenders went out. I don't know soccer that much but this what I'm told. anyway, the team is supposed come to panathinaiko stadium downtown from the airport and folks are going to be cheering on the streets as they do. I'm that far so at eight pm I hoof down michalakopoulou 'till it runs into konstantinou and that's where the stadium is, at the center of athens. it is crazy in the streets - thousands of very happy greeks singing and hollering. the stadium is packed up tight so I can't get in there and the streets near it are pretty much that way too. the bus w/the players were supposed to be here at 8:30 but there's no sign - I get a sandwich from a vendor on the street. it's like a french roll w/a shishkabob w/the stick pulled off in it and then stuffed w/onions, tomatoes and french fries (yep, fries). trippy but good. there are many false alarms w/some vehicle or whatever that comes down the road and everyone goes crazy 'till they find out it's not the players. there's tons of cops too but no trouble or anything - everyone's very happy and in good spirits. I wait around 'till around 10:30, then I call it a night and head back to the ho. I don't know if they ever made it cuz they probably were only going a couple of miles an hour do to all the throngs and congestion. as I get only a few blocks from where I started, it gets much calmer and I'm 'pert-near alone on the street. there's this little cat near some construction and I squat down to say hi. whoa, skinny but still affectionate - she digs some headrubs I give her. I know it's a her cuz her baby comes after a bit... tiny meows and way more skittish than mommy - I have to make my moves very slow and deliberate so they don't scare her. so trippy to share this quiet w/these two little ones after being awash in a sea of exhilarated humans. I feel more at home w/these two, I think. I'm very happy for the greek folks and their unexpected fortune but it's much easy to think and even hear your own thoughts w/these two small athenians. I sure wish I had some chow for mommy - she digs the rubs though, tummy ones too. baby gets a little used to me and snuggles w/her ma, it's adorable - thank you for sharing this w/the foreigner! this puts a big calmness on me - I don't even think about my stupidness and the camera in the tub thing. actually, the happy greeks already got me to forget that, I was laughing w/them. this is different though, it brings a focus on just being grateful I'm alive and aware to absorb all of this: playing w/the stooges, different lands and trying to just get it together a little better.
I have to say bye to the gatos - it breaks my heart but I got push on. love to them. I get back and tell the ho desk man of my adventure, then go upstairs and konk.
tuesday, july 6, 2004 - athens, greece
I pop early and use the emersion heater they got in our rooms to boil water. I dig pads that have these though I guess I should have a tiny one of my own I can carry w/me cuz lots of the pads don't have these. so much more econo to stomp on the coff jones in the morning. I filter up two cups worth and gulp them down, then soak in the tub a bit. my plan is to find a replacement digicamera so I won't be shotless the rest of the trip. I can't believe how stupid I was to let that minolta fall into the tub like that, what a fucking idiot I am. I go down to the desk and ask the lady there where's a camera shop. she directs me a few blocks away to mavili square, on the way I chow a sandwich which is like a baugette filled w/salami and cream cheese for two euros. good eats. the "camera shop" is more for mobile phones and there's only a few digicams but the lady there says this store here's part of a chain and the bigger main one is in kolonaki square, more to the west. I hoof down vass sofias which is a bigger street, probably the main artery running through athens. most the streets are tiny and narrow so when you combine that w/tons of cars and even more motorcycles, it's an intense thing to walk around. you take your life into your own hands, big time. the sidwalks are very narrow as well and lots of times you have to walk out into the street cuz the parking thing is super intense with every available inch taken up and cars butted right up on each other. on my way I see a huge crowd gathered, it's a line for the u.s. embassy, which I pass by. police are everywhere, each couple of blocks or so. I thought maybe it was for the soccer team coming home last night but they're out in force the same today so maybe it's cuz of the olympics that are coming here soon. I find the shop and get a samsung digimax v4. not the best but'll do and I'll sell it econo to my sister when I get back to pedro and send my minolta one in for repair. I hoof back to the ho and pass the parliament. I look at some newspaper headlines at a kiosk (now I know where the expression "it's all greek to me" comes from!) and I hear some stomping, very deliberate. I turn about and see these three guys in skirts w/pom-poms on their shoes and rifles over their arms, goosestepping right past me. whoa, that was a trip! must be some kind of honor guard. I get back to ho and check out the camera, it seems like it'll work out.
my ankles are kind of sore but I'm intent on going where I've planned to visit before the gig - the acropolis. the map shows me a light rail line, the metro and I consider that to save me from too much hurting. one more round of my coff and then I hoof up to the megaro station near where some hospitals are. weird, I can't find any gyros or falafels around so I get another two euro sandwich, this time it's stuffed w/sliced hot dog and tomatoes. the metro is underground and costs only seventy cents. I ride the blue line to catch the red one at syntagma and the next one is the acropolis station. very clean and fast, it's only a couple years old. it sure would help to expand this cuz this traffic situation makes the cities in japan look like mayberry. everything so dense and built so much before the idea of cars would even be contemplated. I'm not complaining, just tripping on how intense it all is. I take some little side streets to get to the hill the acropolis is on. it costs twelve euros to get in. it's all such a mindblow, like twentyfour hundred years old. the odeon of herodes is wild, somehow the greeks built this amphitheatre to project in stereo and if you're standing in the middle of the stage, in mono. they still have gigs here. I go up the hill to the temple of nike athena. though I'm by myself and didn't go for the guided tour thing, I stand close to the guides giving the spiels so I can learn from them. one reason I didn't be part of a group was cuz of the embarrassing shit w/younger bigmouthed u.s. people saying some of the stupidist shit you can imagine. aahh, run away! hardly any looking and wondering at these great works, more like mindless yammer and self-involved whatever. I can't avoid hearing this one genius blurt out, "I guess all this stuff here means it's ok to be gay." oh boy. my intention is not to disparage my countrymen but they're the ones I can understand, making the loud noise and well, speaking for themselves. it makes me think of maybe how retarded I might sound at times. mostly though when I'm visiting places, I keep to myself and don't really carry on conversations, I try to soak everything I can in the small time I have to check stuff out. these structures have quite an effect on me, to think I'm stepping where cats were living and creating all those ages ago, whoa. the athenians were quite some builders. a look down at the ground shows why the walking's kind of slippery - so many folks walk these grounds, the rocks have been buffed-up way smooth. there's 'pert-near hardly and shade - it must be a hundred degrees but it's way dry so not too bad. I need some moisture though and get some lemonade which is great cuz it's got no sugar. four and a half euros though! damn, burn ward. this hill everything's built on as great views of athens, you can easily see how dense the town is built up. I imagine how many turd pipes must be running through this place, whoa. I heard the smog was worse than so cal but I can see very clearly so maybe it's a good day. at the bottom of the southeast side is theatre at dionysos and it's beautiful to behold. there's an building w/a gallery of all kinds of objects found up here and I take shots of every piece I can. it's amazing the skill these cats had making these things. like I said, what a mindblow. trippy to find out too that all these structures were painted up and not white like what we see now. there's lots of scaffolding and restoration going on too. lots of the columns have been cut in sections and put back together w/steel running through them to help w/what time can do w/things man builds. I take just over two hundred shots, as much as the digicamera can hold since one of the reasons I got it was that it used the same memory card as the minolta and I didn't have to springboard for a bigger one of those. after about four hours, I make my way back to the metro station and back to the ho. my ankles are kind of swollen so I lay down while I chimp diary. I do that 'till I konk a bit before lobby call for the gig.
it's a quarter of eight, lobby call. nik, kris and jana (the flight crew from the challenger 600 jet) are w/us so they can hear what these folks they've been flying around sound like. there's no soundcheck so we're leaving now even though we don't go on 'till 10:30 pm. easy to understand once we're underway cuz it's "mister toad's wild ride" all the way to the venue, the petra theatre. there's no main road there, just tons of tiny streets w/the bus driver making lefts and rights constantly. it's a real life comedy, nothing like I've seen before. it takes an hour and a half to go like eight miles. there's no open stretches, just pads and pads and pads, all the way up to where we need to be, north of town and just to the lip of the bowl that rings the valley athens is in. we're told the cars are allowed to drive depending on their license plates - even one day and odd the next but we see not much conforming w/that request. what's just as annoying and if not more is the shitty "indiana jones" movie playing on the bus' dvd player that I'm trying my hardest to ignore. when we get the gate of the gig, it's too intense a crowd to get through so we take this dirt fireroad around back that seems way scary for this big bus to 'pert-near four-wheel it but make it we do. whew. much respect to the driver and it's wild that this big bus has a manual tranny! came in handy here though. there's two bands on before us, madrugada and stellastar. this gig is set up in a rock quarry w/seats built into a hollow of a cliff and then a stage built in front of them. there's a dirt pit in front of that for those who want to stand and the wind's picking up and throwing dust into hugh clouds. there's no back to the stage either, just out there in the open air. I'm wearing my "hellas" shirt I got at the street party for the soccer team last night but roadboss eric hips to me what happened when cyprus hill played her last night: they had to cut their show off early cuz they got pelted w/rocks when they brought out a greek flag cuz of anti-nationalist sentiments. athens obviously has what ron calls "factions." so be it, I'm here as a guest and not make trouble so eric lends me his white tshirt and it's off w/the one I brought. I'm still a little nervous though cuz there is an unlimited supply of rocks everywhere (remember, it's a rock quarry!). well, like the shirt I wore in serbia said, "no falls, no balls" so I try my hardest to focus on keeping it together and not let worry crumple me up. ron has forgone w/wearing his navy medic camouflage shirt denis tek gave him - he's only got the black shirt on that he usually wears under it (well, he's wearing his levi jeans too). whiling away the minutes on the couch here, I'm a little balled-up, holding on around my shins w/my knees up against my chest and thinking, thinking, thinking... iggy asks is I'm ok and tell him yes but I'm a little nervous. it's not just cuz of fear of being pelted - every so many gigs I get a little more insecure than usual and it has much more to do w/what's inside rather than outside me. deep down though I think these athens cats are going to dig the stooges. I just wanna play good though and not let anyone on either side of the stage - ours or theirs - down.
the place is packed, folks sitting way up on the hill and all up close on the deck in front of the stage. the stairs up to the stage is funny - it's cases stacked up in different heights to help us up, totally improvised. of course, no hand rail - scary for weak-knee watt but I manage - no complaints from the bass player. like a lot of gigs we do, there was no soundcheck (like I mentioned before) and we're using provided backline (that means I don't have the g-k stuff - instead I have a pair of beat-up ampeg svt-II amps and cabs) and when we start off w/"loose," my sound is all muffed-out lows. it was kind of a panic for me too cuz I couldn't find my bass. chris was helping ron w/his guitar while I searched around. lucky ron and scotty start it off together and I don't have to immediately begin w/them. I get the bass on just in time but the strap is twisted, damn. no time to picky though, the gig is going down NOW! iggy's voice is good and loud on stage - I love it when it's like that cuz then I never have to guess. my focus is zeroed in right on him and doesn't waiver. the athens cats are very much into it and give us a great response. their roar is so loud when we finish, I can't hear the count in to "down on the street" but I'm there quick enough when ron glisses down into the first note. the stage is really bouncy, trippy. there's nothing behind so the wind gets whipped up by a venturi effect caused by the bowl cut into the rock that made the quarry. it looks 'pert-near like the result of a smoke machine! I got my midrange on the little bass at 800hz and cranked all the way - lots of treble too so my sound is better tone-wise but the tore-up speakers are cranking out much fuzz. oh well, "a poor carpenter blames his tools" - at least it's not sounding tepid. someone jumped almost on top of me from the side but I saw him coming at the last minute and dodged him. that was trippy. "1969" has its swivels - I love that and try to interpret that feel w/rotating on my ankles and into "I wanna be you dog" - which really has the crowd blow up. we get the freight train rolling w/"tv eye" - whoa! I get on my knees in front of ron's amps yet again and bury my head in that SOUND while he solos. iggy is so fire, I surely do think it's getting more contagious on me! again, iggy's cut the pre-"ram it" spiel he used to have but he's not as quick into where we join him so scotty's in for all four of them w/us. I've made sure to tune before "dirt" so I'm proper. ig gives a little spiel there so that gives me some time. we do a smooth take on it and I can dig it - good dynamic. we've been warned not to bring folks on stage cuz of a wobbly stage but ig is caught up in the moment half way through "real cool time" and tells the folks he doesn't care - "c'mon up her w/me!" - so kids come up and dance w/him and we then go right into "no fun" w/a stage-full. iggy next introduces the band and calls scotty "man of few words, rock action!" and then "the original dictator, ron asheton!" and of course, all of ours favorites - one we asked him to do again "and I'm fucking iggy!!!" yeah! we do the slamminest version of "1970" yet on the tour, wow. I park my shaking self right in front of ron for the hold end part - where steve comes in - and literally try to soak him w/sweat flying off my body. even though I'm soaking my whole outfit, the dry arid air keeps things pretty calm on me for that. the only really lame thing of the night is a heineken bottle coming down on stage near ron - why do people act like assholes and do that? it takes just one. it shatters all over and jos gathers up the glass which is good cuz lots of times, iggy's rolling there. something else comes flying up on stage near me but it's nothing like a bottle - it's someone's wristwatch that's been busted where one of the straps attach. I've lost a bunch this way and it's one reason I use these newer ones that have a bonused-out place where it attaches instead of just a pin like older ones do. I pluck it from the deck and put it on scotty's drum riser - maybe the owner can retrieve after the gig somehow. tonight I'm determined not to lose the one at any time on "fun house" and that I do, whew. one reason I write about clams in these here diaries is to impress upon myself the need not to repeat such clams. of course, that doesn't mean I'm not gonna clam it up in some other part! shit, man - I'm trying, I swear. seems we're sticking w/a shorter "l.a. blues" and then the broad stroke for "skull rings" - smoov (yeah, that's spelled right). we finish up w/"dead rock star" and "little electric chair" boom! off behind the stage. iggy goes back by himself and then calls us out for not right. for some reason, I "invent" a third verse but realize my goof after a riff - same chord at least. hold your focus, watt! I have to work on that as the set goes on, can't let it slip. other fallout from stupid shit like that is a feeling of low self-esteem which realizes itself in a lack of me being able to be as wild cuz I get all self-conscious. yech. one more time w/"...dog" and a big wind carries ron's opening guitar riff off to where scotty can't hear it right and he intros into the wrong side of the beat but we recover quick - everyone's keyed-in tight enough to do that. the gig's done, whoa. great crowd.
I run to the dressing room and catch some guy dick-leaching the chow. funny how that's a worldwide phenomena, huh? I could truly understand if it was gonna get wasted but I'm a little bit hungry! that's ok, I eat a banana and then plant myself on the couch, nestled next to the cooler. I'm really beat after this one and sit pretty much motionless for the longest while. I peel off the sweated-out tshirt of eric's and return it to him. he asks for my understanding as he dumps it in the trash... of course, eric! thank you much for helping me out. there was a trippy thing near the end of the gig regarding that nationalism thing though - a greek flag did come out in the middle of the pit for a bit but maybe it was better than auslanders wave one on stage. I have to say there was a good vibe from all those athenian cats - much respect to them. the cats from madrugada come by and say hi, they're very nice. the flight crew folks (nik, kris and jana) tell us they enjoyed the gig which all are very happy to hear. after a bit, iggy comes in and and sits next to me. he says I'm the most docile he's ever seen me and I apologize and say they gig just took a lot out of me. he tells me I'm putting more energy into each show and I answer him by saying he inspires much which he truly does. he is the boat of the boat and that will have an effect on the keel! he says my mustache looks like ely wallach's in "the good, the bad and the ugly" and we both laugh. much respect to iggy.
we load up into the van and the hour and a half ride turns into twenty minutes this late at night. alright. and that's including the detour to the acropolis to drop the flight crew off (their ho is near it) and so that everyone can see it. it's lit up good for night, even though you can't walk through it at this time like I did during the day. oh well, I'm glad my team got to see something so righteous w/their own eyes. they're all amazed by it, big time. we get to the ho and I'm so wrung though - I konked for most of the ride to the acropolis and was kind of cranky to roadboss eric so I apologize before getting up to my quarters. I feel like an idiot for hollering just cuz he accidently sat on my glasses and what the fuck - they didn't get bent any way. the recriminations I feel for myself - aahh... whoa, a tiny second wind - I go to brother steve mackay's cabin and we spiel for a half hour. steve's a good spirit boost and makes me feel connected to the moment - he can engage you in the moment w/spiel and get you out of internal corkscrew spins. thank you, steve. my keel righted, I konk easy now after getting to my cabin.
wednesday, july 7, 2004 - paris, france
I pop and immediately check the camera. I shook it out and dried it right after its plunge but it's still a no-go, the battery is definitely shorted. it uses this special thin little battery so there's no chance to find one here. good thing I got the samsung camera to replace it. I would've really hated myself not to have pictures of all the stuff I saw at the acropolis yesterday. I'm a little weirded out by a dream I had last night. in it, I was at a sonic youth gig and they asked me to come up on stage to play "starpower" w/them, a song of theirs from the "evol" album. I actually did do that many times on the first fIREHOSE tour where we opened for them but for the life of me, in this dream, I could not think of the chords and was shitting bocoup bricks trying to remember them... it was a total nightmare. I felt like I was really letting them down and being the biggest fucking idiot. what a dilemma. what's trippy too is that I had another weird dream the night before - I was on a bicycle and rode into some store. for some reason I had a pipe in one hand w/mota in it and there in the store I saw this cat named john jure - john was a friend of mine in high school I haven't seen in 'pert-near twenty years or something and it seems he was a cop or something and had a gun - he was going to shoot me. I didn't know what to do cuz I felt totally paralyzed and couldn't move an inch. it was a really scary dream, even heavier than the sonic one and that was pretty intense. I can't figure out what any of either dream meant except that maybe I'm the world's biggest fucking scardy-cat. man, it shook me up.
we take the bus to the airport, traffic snarled up makes it a slow-go but we have the same driver we've had all along who somehow handles it - I make sure to thank him much when we finally arrive. we fly over the alps and I get some good shots of them as we head for paris. when we land, the weather's turned around big time - gray and rainy. very easy entry into france, we're taken to the middle of paris a few blocks from the seine river in the concorde part. we're staying at the hotel faubourg and it's a day off. there's gendarmes all over and in fact our street is pretty much closed to traffic cuz it's only a half-block from the u.s. embassy. I chimp diary for a while and then head out to rustle up some chow. just fancy pads around these parts but I do find something econo near this park w/a huge ferris wheel. it's a cafe and the man there behind the bar takes my order for a hot dog. a french hot dog, I'm wondering what's that like. when it comes, it's huge and I'm amazed - the man laughs, he's nice and notices my surprise. it's actually two dogs in a long baguette-like roll w/cheese melted all over the top. it took a little while too, they cooked it up kind of slow but that's ok cuz it tastes good. I even have a glass of the beaujolais wine they got here and the whole thing was six euros. I don't think I've ever had a wine and a hot dog before but it was unique. I hoofed a while to stumble onto this pad and it takes a little while to get back but I'm glad it was quiet cuz I thought for sure it would be all touristy. I dig when this towns that are faraway for me are people-quiet so I can try and get a sense of their self, their "towness" or whatever. I try to absorb all I can and though I don't understand all (or even any) of the "meaning" about, I do feel it to be quite an actual thing and it has bearing on me. even though I realize I'm giving significance to whatever w/processes in my own head, there's something from the outside, pushing in awe and wonder stuff, things beyond me which in turn push my thinking into places I don't I'd regularly put them. I'm quite aware of the saying, "wherever you go, there you are" but there's plenty of springboard for trippy thoughts when I'm in this mode. it's one reason I really dig touring, besides the gigs themselves. intense.
I get back to ho and go visit scotty. he teaches me more about the dhammpada and about the birds in his michigan bird book. he tells me about the tao te ching too. it's all good stuff and interests me much. he has the most righteous way of hipping me to things, he's steady and calm w/his spiel, leading you through the path he's making in deliberate steps, never running off or trying to lose you. it's grounded and it's thorough and of course it inspires me on all kinds of tangents to think of while at the same time, focusing in on the core of what he's making understood to me. he loads me up w/a lot of thoughts and I carry out a head-full to my room and konk easy, interesting ideas on my mind instead of the nightmares of the last two nights. thanks scotty.
thursday, july 8, 2004 - paris, france
I pop early and soak in the tub, then open the windows to look at the sky - it's windy but more blue than cloud. better move fast though cuz weather changes just like that here. I got the feeling the rain yesterday will once again visit us - even though we're in july. to think last year france was having a terrible heat wave, damn. I'm out the hatch and head towards the obelisque where I take shots of that and all the stuff around the place de la concorde. the traffic might not be as wild as athens but it's still intense. I follow the siene river west 'till I'm at the bridge that brings you to the eiffel tower. pretty impressive structure. paris is full of grand makings, quite a beautiful place. I make my way up kleber and have to get some coff in me cuz I'm 'pert-near stumbling - ok, I got a jones for the shit. the name of this place translates to "sophie's little earth," I think. I'm gonna hold off for chowing though cuz I'll be able to shovel for free at the gig and the joints around here are scaled to clip touristen. I stop at the post office for some stamps - I have yet had someone be rude to me, everyone's been very nice. so goes it for what you might've otherwise heard, this is my experience. I get to the arc de triomphe and take shots of it from the crosswalk - wish I could climb up it and get a look of the town but the line for that snakes around forever - no time or patience for that. I start my loop back by getting on champs elysees, a super wide road obviously built for parades. lots of fancy stores along here. the grand palais is getting restored. I go into the park that has the marigny theatre and there's beds of righteous looking flowers so I take shots of them w/the digicamera. I'm getting close to the ho so I decide to take a parallel road from the park but a gendarme stops me. he's a huge man and asks me to put my camera away and use another street. I show him my map and where I'm going. he's not mean to me but makes it clear what he wants. no prob... I realize I'm right near the u.s. embassy, of course. it's only a little out of my way besides. the wind has been picking up my whole walk but now rain starts right as I get to the ho. that worked out ok.
I chimp diary 'till it's time for soundcheck and I meet steve and scotty in the lobby. no ron for the check cuz he's been shitting his brains out. he thinks he got food poisoning by using ice cubes after the athens gig made using their water. damn, I feel bad for ron. he told me he went through two rolls of toilet paper last night. we're told the ride to the zenith, where the gig's at, is five-ten minutes but it's more like fifty. I'm planning on staying there after the check cuz hell if I'm riding around if I don't have to. it eases my gut anyway to be where I'm playing once I get there. roadboss eric tells us the portuagal gig's back on, alright! there's a table full of chow, I have a tomato stuffed w/tuna and some baugette chunks stuffed w/pepperoni pieces and chow some salad too. then I eat some of these little pork ribs they got - it's all goood eats. we hear the gig's clean (sold out) - 6300 seats. this pad is a fabric or plastic covered rectangular deal w/a super-high roof. the stage is huge w/no sides and is way in front of the back wall. chris plays the guitar while jos sings for our run-through of a couple of songs. got the g-k setup back and I remind the crew guys the battery in the little bass is on when it's plugged in - what the hell, why not put a new one in cuz we're more than half-done w/the tour now. my 'd' string is a little sharp w/it's intonation but my corrosive sweat has gummed up the adjustment screw so I'll just have to live w/that. fucking chemistry. we get done and scotty's heads back to the ho but me and steve stay. steve's got his radon friends here and raps w/them while I try and find some place quiet to chimp. the only thing I find is ig's room so I break out the 'puter there, planning to vacate a few minutes before he's due. I get my spiel in and niagra and the colonel show up. great to see them again. dara arrives too - big hugs to her - ron flew them all in for the show. w/dara is gui, a nice cat who runs an iggy web site I did a espiel for and I'm glad to meet him in person. the asheton bros come aboard and ron says he's feeling better but still hurting. oh man, I know how that it. luckily, years of the road have made my gut cast iron though I used to get poisoned regularly my first few tours. there's one opener tonight, peaches. she starts at eight and does a great set, the paris folks dig her too.
I know this is a big gig cuz art says ig's been focusing for it all tour, even during the three-in-a-row stretch. every stooge gig is a big one for me though so I focus my best too. I'm sure glad we're going on a nine. a few minutes extra however and then we're on. I'm wearing the "stop human trafficking" shirt I got in novi sad. the paris crowd is on fire, it's pretty intense. we're off w/"loose" and it's nuts. gui will tell me later "it was like an earthquake between a porn star's legs." oh boy. it's sure a fucking rush for me. we're doing the set we've done all tour, "down on the street" is next and finally I hear all four of scotty's hig-hat clicks and start it of right with the guys. my bass is roaring, I got the front end of the amps overdriven which sounds intense when you get far away enough from them. I up close though for my kneel-down while ig does what he does w/the top of my speaker boxes - hump them up big time. "a real o-mind" and then we're into "1969" - wah-ahh-wah. even w/the high roof, this pad's a shvitz and I can feel it start to heat up already, my shirt halfway sweated. it's ok though cuz I feel relaxed though I'm going my craziest of the tour, must be hitting a stride or something. I feel no soreness. I spend the whole of "I wanna be you dog" on ron's side of the stage, getting in between him and scotty. ig's mic is fucking up - he tries three in a row and they're all failing. must be a cord then, huh? the next one handed to him and he sings only two of the first verse's lines but we're up on it and are together for the chorus - the band is tight in the moment, yes. iggy does his first dive into the audience for the night - damn, head first! he comes back up w/a bleeding cut on the forehead, whoa. right w/us on the downbeat though, amazing. I hear ron's monitor wedge and he's got the happening mix of the band coming out of it - no wonder he stands in his one spot and holds the fort all night. me, I gotta mix my sound by my proximity to all the sources - a point somewhere between the drums, ron's amps, my amps and the monitors w/iggy's voice in them. it's a dynamic thing and changes from moment. iggy gives big thanks to the crowd and that's let's go of a huge "loooooooooord!" for "tv eye" and after getting myself into the song right by being real close on ron and scotty, I move up the front of the stage starboard and let the tune into my bones, resulting in me shaking myself silly getting to that ecstatic place where the head hums loud w/a life force. it's feeling submerged way below the word level so it's hard to relate in mere chimping, like what I'm trying to do here. I know it's not special to watt though, it's a state all of have personally somewhere and somehow. I've just learned to get to it w/music or more likely, I stumbled on to it when I started playing w/d. boon in my more younger days. he was quite a mentor into showing the way to that state, it was quite righteous to see him fired up and "emmanitizing the eschtacheon" as robert anton wilson might say. the little bass feels like a grease gun w/me squeezing off thick rhythm squirts in non-identical chunks but still overall laying in the slamming motown groove scotty's charging forth w/and pushing this band like an invisible forward-torquing lower body shove, like semi-random earth-ripples ripping open on the surface as a result of a deep and resonant subterranean bootkick of flow. I really try but words confound my ability to keep from letting cornball shit foul up such sincere sensations. it's an inherent problem w/watt using chimping to relate a tour through spiel in the first place, like tilting at windmills. anyway - after all the "ram it!" exhale, some inhale time w/"dirt" for us. that doesn't mean iggy's not going to slam himself to the deck or forehand himself in the jaw cuz he wants to convey his words using real things but the bass player has to manifest an ocean motion to grout these backward-surfbeat rhythms that maestro scotty's conducting. iggy bows and then pushes the "real cool time" button and we lift off - "c'mon stooges!" he hollers. I follow ron's direction here so I get a handle on "having a little too much fun," like he says which means I'm a little too all over the place inside the chords, especially for supporting the verse parts. some of that "wheels of fire" jack bruce stuff I heard as a boy bubbling up maybe. lo siento. the song should always come first and not a selfish bogart, it's something worth not only remembering but manifesting too. iggy asks folks to come on up and slowly they make their way over the rails, across the moat and up the stage. much respect to these paris cats, their inspire some great feelings inside me. only inches away but never keeping me from working the bass, really - much respect. w/all the chaos of when the set gets to here, it really blows my mind how kind these cats who get up and dance on stage w/us are - I've never had belig put on me or felt threatened. something does happen w/a guy w/red pants during the end of "no fun" - roadboss eric and some security's have some grip on him cuz of his intense "I want to touch iggy" intentions but ig smoothes it out w/a hug and walks him offstage. I guess this whole is always gonna be some kind of a diceroll but I'm just optimistic about cuz of my experiences w/the big joys are willing to share up there w/us. iggy introduces the band again, that's really nice of him. no fighting weights reported but many bows to him for this kindness. "1970" is hoof after hoof of a thundering stampede, holy cow! this song has really started bowling me over in the set now I yell "time-time!" out to scotty while laughing my head off, the momentum it gathers and puts forth. all the parts working at once to make this whole that swallows me up and throws me into a racing bloodstream of an experience - it makes me plasma and hand in hand w/the heart - "watt" seems only a tag pinned on to me by accident and nothing to do w/where I am in this moment. after a fever pitched build-up of "I feel alright!" parts, I see iggy try to give scotty the signal to cut but the train keeps a rollin'. he let's it brake after four more. ron then blooms out some soundburst and improvises for us all on his own 'till iggy sings out a single "fun house!" and I do my best to execute some semblance of a little dance w/these palsy-like stifflegs of mine. steve hodges told me before, "if you can dance it then you can really play it" and the funkyness of this tune is such a powerful thing on me - not steamrolled or overrun but more bone-sprung and emanating outward. we spin out way wack for the "l.a. blues" blowout and I hold my highest 'd' to make it nice and seventhy for scotty to hat us into "skull rings" - finally I've worked the glisses in proper to ramp into the choruses and then out again for the verses. slow learner watt for the subtle stuff, I gotta get a handle on not getting too jonesed on drama! maybe it's a little like the difference between an actor on film and one on stage who's working the back row. I come upstage but way out starboard and face the band while perpendicular w/the audience. since ig crouches or sits for this one, I figure this might direct more attention his way in case folks head's might be in the way cuz he's lower. such are my silly strategies, huh? I'm trying to get a bigger shot of the whole dealio instead of so mired up in personal smallness however, I'm still very much confidence that taking care of the bottom line stuff - working my bass so it does it's job is the absolute priority - like I have to tell anyone that! I'm just chimping that here to let those who want to know, know that I know what we all should know! anyway, that's why I move and face where I do at this point. I can hear steve better too cuz I'm closer to the side fill and that helps me w/the rhino charge in the coda. we had a little talk about sax lines last night in his room and it was interesting hearing about why he does what he does - I don't have much experience w/sax cats but one of the biggest inspirations of my life is john coltrane so I respect it much. set ender time w/"little electric chair" and I'm so glad to hear my bass punching through - it usually gets so lost here. up front, 'pert-near to the stage's rim, pretending I'm getting what someone strapped into one of those chairs would get - it'd be fifty hertz on this side of the pond, right? off the stage and next to ig for the word to go back - "let's go" and we're into "not right" which I get right tonight instead of that clam I blew in athens. over to ron's side for the final "...dog" and whoa, he's working his guitar good for a sick man - much respect to him. we're done and straight up the twirly stairs.
scotty tells me he thought I was telling him we were ending off time when I yelled "time-time!" to him and we both laugh hard. ron said he felt great while we were playing but now that we've stopped, he's hurting again. that's the magic of adrenaline. we all agree the french folks were great to play for, much respect to them. we still hear them roaring even after the mc-5's "kick out the jams" plays and then a couple of other tunes. wow, they sure are kind. I go downstairs and realize my john coltrane pin is missing. fuck! I search all over the stage, all over the dressing room and everywhere I think I was after playing. I know it was on at least halfway through the set - it must've flew off during the encore maybe. damn, what a bummer. a donate to paris, maybe that's ok though. shit, I count on it like a tour totem - when I get doubts or especially scared, I just look down at trane and you wouldn't believe how that helps me. I think of trane saying "I just want to uplift people" and that gets me a good perspective going. well, I'm just going have to imagine that now. peaches and her dancers, annabel and billi talk w/me a bunch - I really like them - and they give me a button to replace my lost trane one, it's blue and reads "fatherfucker" - ok. peaches is from toronto and annabel and billi are from australia though actually billi is from the tasmania part. I hip them to my take on the vaudeville aspects of touring and all - they can dig it, very kind of them. carlton comes to talk w/me, a cat from england w/a label trying to get money to those who got ripped off. one of them is roland bolan, the son of the guy who was t-rex, marc. I met roland at a gig he did in silver lake, back in cali. he tripped on me telling him his pop was the first guy I ever saw play live at a concert.
we're waiting for a taxi cuz there's too many folks for the van back to the ho. there's some gig-goers out there waiting for signatures and I talk to a cat from moscow, a very nice young man who's got a print out of some of my tour diaries. much respect to him! we get back to the ho and I visit steve mackay. he's wound up intense cuz he thinks he's lost his passport. we try retracing our steps and search - man, my loss of the trane pin is small potatoes next to this. we even call managerman art collins but then steve discovers it under his berlitz translation book - yes! whew, we both let out a deep breath. relieved, I go to my cabin and catch the next train to sleepytown.
friday, july 9, 2004 - turin, italy
I pop and tub-soak - ooh, some soreness in the bones for watt. I then head out to hoof and force my fluids through me some but the weather's rainy gray autumn. I can't get sick walking around in this so I turn back and chimp some spiel in the 'puter. still no internet access that's reasonable ($25 is not reasonable) so I still haven't got any of the diary up on the hoot page, damn. last night I was asked to do an interview for this iggy documentary getting made here in france so I go down to the lobby to do that. they ask me some interesting things like, "is iggy demanding on stage?" I tell them he's nothing short of an intense lightning rod of inspiration. sure, he's conducting each "movement" but it's not in a demanding manner (to sound like I was from england!), it's way liberating! he wants the stooges to go, to help him get somewhere, help US get somewher. much respect. they got coff here for free so I gulp down some of that. you wouldn't believe what these fancy pads charge for coff or anything for that matter, it's funny/brutal. van call for the airport and as we're loading up into it, there's some loud pops like a block away. I go up to the corner and see a bunch of national police w/shields and shit. they're boxing in a small crowd who are throwing firecrackers. gui's here and I ask him what's up. he says it might have something to do w/bastille day coming up on the fourteenth. it appears the crowd wants to get to the u.s. embassy but the cops are having none of that. kind of intense but not insane.
we go to the airport we came in wednesday - the same one charles lindburgh landed in. captain nik's there w/the challenger 600 w/a new crew: co-pilot frank and another lady named jana. I guess I have a regular seat now cuz I'm in the most rear one that faces rear again. ig sits across from me. I ask him if he ever saw the doors and he said twice - once right after their first record and they were bad cuz they weren't playing together and the singer was too stoned. the second time he saw them though he said they were great and had really come together as a band - just in two years. I asked that cuz them and the stooges were labelmates. they never met any of them but ron says once he was buying some econo bourbon in hollywood and jim morrison was looking at him the through the window. he came and saw what kind it was (i.w. harper) and then just left. trippy. I chow some fish from a plate jana offers me: trout and salmon. I stuff these couple of rolls w/mozzarella, basil and tomato too. eating chow like this, flying in a private jet over the alps - bass wrestling can sure make for some trippy surprises in life. for me, it's good enough just getting to play w/the stooges and everything else really is tiny in comparison - not to sound ungrateful or anything. I would have my ankle tied to the bumper of a garbage truck and dragged from gig to gig if that were the circumstance. a fifty minute trip w/a flight over the alps and captain nick puts the plane down gentle - our entry into italy through customs is likewise, they only ask what were our last two towns and jana tells them paris and before that cologne cuz that's that where the plane came from to switch out the crew. the weather's like a warm day back in pedro but not broisting - I'm very comfortable in it. feels good to be in italy. we get driven in to the center of town, across from the main train station and check into the turin palace hotel. I read my "elizabeth's london" book, legs stretched out on the deck just to be still for a while and not bent up. after a couple of hours, I go visit scotty for a bit and then take a evening walk around nine. I like not needing a coat. there's this pizzeria called "restirno dei savoia" and I stop to check out a pizza. people were talking about them on the plane and it's been a long while since I had one over here so I wanted to refresh the memory. it's a husband and wife team and he mixes up the dough and makes me up this one called a "crudo" pizza. she gets me some wine, saying she can't give me a glass cuz it's a restaurant so she brings this carafe. it's just a table red wine but man, is it different than what comes out of the bottles iggy's been letting me taste. I never could really tell wines apart before cuz I never really was into them but this is - now I don't mean to sound like some kind of snob cuz I don't know much at all about wines and am not pretending to - well, different. I think just me noticing that makes me want to chimp it here in this spiel. I only want a glass anyway, not a carafe (I looked this word up in the dictionary, having heard roadboss eric use it) full. I'm trying to help my heart get less stress. the pizza comes right from a wood fire oven and it's like a foot across. it's called "crudo" cuz it's got crudo di parma, a ham. it's also got mozzarella. there's only a tiny bit of tamatoe sauce and the crust is real thin so it's different than how a pizza is in the u.s. - even the shape isn't perfectly round but more of a blob shape. I really like it, not heavy and full of good tastes. it's gotten so I can't chow pizza back home cuz it just weighs so heavy on my gut. trippy too eating it w/a knife and fork cuz it ain't sliced, I don't think I've ever done that before. I thank them both very much for treating me nice and then hoof around a bit before getting back to my room. breathing in italian and thinking of my ma and her people from this land. I went to ellisisland.org and found their immigration manifests and even pictures of the boats they came over on. carlo and guistina piaia - they were from the other side of the north though, in san tomaso. they didn't stop at ellis island and then new york city though - they went west to a small coal town called dines in western wyoming. it's a ghost town now. trippy how some of their blood found its way back to do some bass cuz they themselves never returned.
I wash two pairs of stenched jeans and three pairs of underwear in similar condition in the tub, then konk for a little bit but pop and realize it's just midnight - I hadn't made it to morning yet. I go downstairs and find steve mackay w/two friends of his from france. there's some whole shelled hazenuts in a bowl, trippy taste. I know, I know - all this about food but it's a day off today and believe me, it's not as much shoveling as it sounds or I'd be bellin' like a melon. it's just different tastes making an impression on me. managerman art collins comes in w/his wife nikki - she's come to join him here in torino, all right. he has some intense managing marianne faithful stories. whoa, I go up to konk a little weirded out.
saturday, july 10, 2004 - turin, italy
I pop, tub-soak a little then head to get some free shovel in the galley. ron's already there and getting his share. good eats. if you keeping hoofing past the train station, it takes you to the po river so I go that way. there's a bridge over it for a road called corso dante, alright. this fucking camera eats batteries like a glutton and I gotta buy some more. man, is the po green - whoa. I walk along the bank 'till I get to the victor emanuell bridge and then turn towards the middle of the old part of town. I stumble onto this trippy book store called "l'ultimo de templari" I see loads of books on arcana and esoterica. I can't see anyone in the pad though and the door's locked. is it closed? there's a doorbell and what the fuck, I ring it. a lady comes down this spiral stair and lets me in. I check out all the shelves of books and 'pert-near all of them are in italian (no shit), most the ones that aren't are in french. damn my ignorant ass for not being able to read them cuz lots of them look really good. I do find one in english, "knights of the cloister" by dominic selwood and also get a tree of life kabala post card too. torino is different than most italian towns. it's still italian, but the architecture is different - wider streets and kind of a french influence in the way the buildings are - bigger, broader. still neat though. funny, I asked the driver if the club hiroshima mon amour is still around and he knew nothing of it. well, I'm finding metal signs for it - it's a pad I've played here in the past. I guess this town was run by some family w/the house of savoy, hence the name of last night's chow pad. lots of big statues of men on horses, men w/swords, men w/guns and women w/their shirts off. big bold stuff like I saw in paris. garibaldi is the big mall street w/their fancy stores. a few blocks off it is this place w/the shroud of turin but it's closed. constrution is everywhere cuz tornio's gonna have the 2006 winter olympics. I spend maybe five hours exploring and taking shots 'till it's time for soundcheck.
the gig's an outdoor one at are a park and is part of the town's "traffic festival." we get there and do "no fun" - ron and scotty immediately are back to the ho but I want to stay. there's great chow on - zucchini, tomatoes stuffed w/breadcrumbs and trippy ham slices done up w/like what we use for turkey dressing back home. there's little bottles of blackberry juice too. there's one opening band, they're called the dirty americans and are from ann arbor - same town the stooges are from though they don't that much about them. well, one does - the bass player - he knows about me too and while we're chowing, he talks to me about his band and the "bidness" (or more like "the racket") and I relate my take which is to work the room and let the freak flag fly. his band's had an album done for a year and a half and the label won't put it out - and to think some people say rock and roll isn't about politics... excuse me while I puke. I can understand his apprehensions and worrying about the "security" issues involved in any kind of long-term thinking about this field of endeavor - man, if I 'pert-near stopped a moment to think about all the dice-roll and gamble involved w/this stuff, I'd be scared shitless to make a move. even when I do get confronted w/doubt, it seems the momentum I got going from playing w/d. boon still pushes me onward. I owe that man so much, one reason I think about him every day. he was also a righteous guy to know, to be w/and I sure wish everyone could've had a shot of finding that out for themselves. d. boon was quite a cat and though I've said this before, let me tell you what I tell those who ask me what kind of bass player I am - I tell them, "I'm d. boon's bass player." claudia, the lady who's been helping us, talks about her one month in hollywood and how she loved being at the rainbow, up on sunset. me and d. boon's first trips up from pedro to hollywood were big deals to us too but I was more about punk gigs and how that blew our minds. I remember telling d. boon at the very first one we saw, "we can do this!" I remember meeting raymond. those were intense days...
I go to our tent and hang w/the crew cats: nobby, rik and jos. I like being w/them, hearing their perspectives on stuff, being on the part of the gig that's not playing the tunes but sure as hell making it possible plus the england experience that they're always learning me on. they're very generous about that and share much w/me which I dig... well, much! ron and scottie come back aboard just as the dirty americans go on. I put on my tshirt for tonight's gig - it's a white one for the riot grrl band bikini kill that's really neat but it's full of brown stains. I guess they're from coffee but it looks like I've been rolling around in dog shit, damn. no disrespect to them cuz they were a great group, truly. I used to do their "rebel girl" w/my black gang and pair of pliers bands. the singer kathleen now is in la tigre. I bet she still gets asked all the time about that spiel she did for my "ball-hog or tugboat" record. I dug that much and it helped make that album whole.
I almost opted to use the same strings as paris since I did soundcheck w/them but w/the day off yesterday and all that time w/my fluids on them, they were really dead. trippy how I have yet to break a string at a stooges gig, don't know why that is but I'm glad cuz it would fuck up our flow, even if there is jos' bass to back me up. I have had a set of new strings for every gig this tour which is kind of different for me. anyway... nervous time, waiting to go on. ron does his usual pacing and I give up my bass to helperman chris to join ron in laps around the tent. finally it's time and we're led up to the stage at 10:30, we're told it's something like fifty thousand folks to see us here tonight in torino. oh boy, a wood stage that's kind of bouncy, even seems varnished which is weird for outdoor assembled one. gotta watch out I don't slip if it gets wet. the gig's on w/"loose" and there's the strangest feeling in my bones. don't know what it is but kind of hard to get the shake-shake going I like to set off in my legs. iggy's great, something to behold and very much get behind. I'm still a little stiff for "down on the street" but at least my playing's ok. "1969" and then "I wanna be your dog" and finally, enough sweat pouring out oils me up and I start loosening up. I've been thinking hard of inspiring things too - stuff I used to get me out of having my head wrapped around self-conscious shit and looking towards where I find admiration, a heroic image if I can plead not to sound completely ridiculous. it helps so, yellow-orange light on/in/through me, a vision hard to stare completely into cuz I have to keep tight w/the band, be aware in the moment - I must confess though I get 'pert-near millimeters from falling into what seems such a tub of warm solvent/affection (can there be such a combination?). hmm... to get a hold of myself, it's like I have to lose myself - that sounds bizarre. of course I can't lose contact w/the band, what needs to get lost is fear. time to go crazy then w/"tv eye" - wow. "see that cat, you know I love her so!" iggy sings - on my knees up against ron's amps, crazy. all the sounds merge into one pluse, one feel that inside me contains everything at once, like I'm so so so very much awake it just has to be kind of a dream but it's touching on me so real - big time real, it's the fucking stooges! in the middle chug section, just before the "ram it!" parts, ig hollers, "kiss my ass, burlesconi!" right on. that clown owns a bunch of tv stations in italy plus he's the prime minister. later, iggy will tell me that guy reminds him of rome in the decline days, when generals had private armies loyal to them cuz they were paying them. back the volume off for "dirt" cuz iggy wants the dynamic lower but me still playing w/balls - no light touch dealio here. "real cool time" and "no fun" next, time to bring some kids on stage - whoa, some are pretty aggressive on ig and manhandling him a bit but still he soldiers on. admirable. a tiny bit time to catch a breath as our cappo introduces us and then back to the charge w/"1970," letting ron explore some realms on his own at then end, then funk it up w/"fun house," us all launching out into outer space a bit w/"l.a. blues" and then groove it up w/"skull rings" - we're pretty much doing this all like one big tune now. good flow. I really like the spiel iggy gives before "dead rock star" at the gigs cuz he tells like it is, ron and scotty have a good intro part together too when the song kicks in. time for me to simulate being electrocuted for "little electric chair" but like an idiot, I start the song in 'a' instad of 'd' and I feel like a real putz. how does that shit happen? idiot watt. I recover quick though. I play this tune 'pert-near the whole way w/my eyes closed but open them up big when I get this big shove from iggy. when we're done, he'll tell me he was just having some fun cuz he felt the tune dragging a little... I can relate and am happy to oblige! we're off and then back w/a tight "not right" and one more "...dog" - the gig's done.
I'm drenched in sweat but very happy cuz that gig was really fun, especially after a weird start for me. claudia said I was "most grandia," making me blush. the guys in the dirty american band are very kind too, saying it must be a mustache thing and maybe they'll grow some also. ha! I'm taken to a tent and do an interview w/a cat named stefano for "rock tv" and it's kind of trippy cuz some questions seem like I'm from the original band and not maybe the newcomer I actually am. no problem though cuz it's easy to explain what I find inspiring about playing w/these guys and why it empowers me so to really get into it and give it my all. trippy too is a question about why I play an older bass and I answer to make my connection w/a machine more personable, like it was a woman and make it more sincere for me. I hope that made sense. managerman takes me to see iggy and ig has me drink some wine from here. damn, I wish I could remember the name cuz it's really good. he dug the gig and man, he really worked it well - he was righteous.
it's a hard go getting the van out of the lot but a thousand cuts on the wheel and our driver (another stefano) does excellente and gets us out of a total wedge-job. we drop captain nik, frank and jana off (nik brought his new crew to see us - it's great he's seen us twice) near where they're staying before we get back to our ho. then I visit w/steve a bit, showing him my new templar/hospitaler book. he asks if it's for my research and I tell him my whole fucking life is for some kind of research, maybe if only to find out what the fuck I'm about anway! we both laugh and I retire to my quarters to konk. arivaderce.
sunday, july 11, 2004 - wiesen, austria
I pop at eight (for watt, kind of late), clear the tub of the drying-off levis and pack them then soak in said tub. lobby call at ten so I pack fast so I can fit in the free breakfast trough downstairs, which I do. lots of italian sun coming in through the windows but I have the feeling grayness will be painting the austrian skies from what steve said of his weather observations from the television. oh well, still looking forward to playing the gig. the same cat who brought us (damn, wish I remembered his name) friday takes us back to the airport we flew into and learn from ig he got leaned on by a customs guy w/some 'tude. sorry to hear that. the thing w/some power-strut hungry cats who have that authority is universal and can happen anywhere. luck of the draw it seems. we have it easy and load right up, then we're in the air. I chow some fish jana has on a plate but not much cuz of the previous load-up. the flight's like an hour and we land at flughafen near vienna.
it is rainy and we get driven to the bristol hotel on one of the ring roads 'pert-near in the center of town, near the danube. I don't stay long though, I want to go to the gig early w/the crew so after dropping my bags off in a trippy room I've been given on the fifth floor - a long narrow one that ends in balcony window-doors that open up to give you outside access from the chest up and about as wide (like coming out of a tiny submarine conning tower!) - I get in a van w/nobby, rik, jos and roadboss eric. our gig is on the third and final day of the forestglade festival and about an hour away from vienna in a town called wiesen. we arrive as a band called danko jones is playing and I watch them. I met these guys a year and a half ago at pukkelpop in belgium while playing w/asheton, asheton, mascis and watt - one of the precursor units to this stooges reunion going now - I like them, a spunky power trio who work it hard. I say hi to them when they're done and the singer, djanko, tells me his lives in stockholm, has a radio show and would I do a spiel for it later? yes, of course - honored to. the dressing rooms are actually railroad cars behind this big tent you play under so I go there w/chow from the tables (another good reason for being at the gig early!) which is little chicken wings/legs, salad and a small amount of spaghetti w/olive oil. I've really cut back on the pasta which is kind of intense cuz of growing up w/an italian ma who chowed me w/it all the time did build up quite an hankering and love for it but what the fuck, wanna be lean enough to keep playing hard. same w/potatoes though I have to admit I've been letting bread into the gullet more than back home. cheese too. anyway, this chow is kind of u.s. tasting, the way it was made. turbonegro, a happening norway band I first saw at the "all tomorrow's parties" gig last february in england, is set to play and I rap w/the bass player a little, the cat w/the sailor's hat. I like him. when I go on, I notice he's gotta big crescent wrench in his back pocket, whoa. when they finish, I talk w/him and the singer while they chow - they gotta leave soon and will miss the stooges which bums them out, damn. they have a great lead guitarist and I ask them both about him - turns out his name is euroboy and he's even got his own band. I wanna see that. I like turbonegro though - they have a great "final anthem" - a tune w/many many choruses of "I've got an erection" - like the english guys on the crew would say, "brilliant." I'm asked to do an interview for austria's radio four and there's a cat from minneapolis along w/a native austrian talking to me, it's for a show called "kleinen punk stuk" (little punk block). they way the conversation goes, I talk much about the experiences w/the minutemen concerning the 70s punk we learned from and then the hardcore scene later when the 80s came cuz this interests them. makes sense if you want to wrap your head somewhat around what made us the minutemen. then I do w/danko himself (who's band played earlier) for his radio show and he talks more about stooges, which is pretty righteous too - so good not having to do the same spiel all the time! he has good concerns about getting young people fired up to create and how to make things fertile for that. then ron, scottie and steve show up which means we got like a little more of an hour to go before we're on.
man, I have to admit I feel the tiredest I have for a gig this tour. this kind of worries me a little and I try to focus hard the energies I do have available. this might sound corny but you'd appreciate it to know how seriously I want to do good for these guys, it means much for me. in my experience of touring all these years though, there's cycles I've come to recognize as the gigs go on and I feel a little bit in a "trough" kind of. I can rally what I got though and that's what I'm trying to do as ron's in his pacing mode while scotty tat-tats away on that prac pad he's got strapped over his left knee. it seems like forever before on-stage at eleven pm. man, the band before us (don't know the name) makes it seem even longer, the same "tune" over and over and to think about it, maybe it's a little bit of a setup to make things difficult - playing clean up at the tail-end of a three day festival - I don't know but I know we'll soldier on nevertheless. I've got the cobra verde song their singer john petkovic gave me - it says "the final battle will be over product" on it. funny. I don't know how but fucking finally it's time to go on - have mercy! a little cold out but there's a cure for that - playing w/the stooges! I give my coat and backpack w/the tipurse 'puter to chris to "guard w/your life" and he's been so great about that. I just don't have the most confidence w/the backstage - shit, that goes for pads in the u.s. too. scotty's four clicks on the hi-hat and "loose" sets this gig off. kind of a distorted sound w/my amps - no way to keep the clip lights from coming on unless I hit the pad buttons and then there's no gain at all. hmm... wish I had more time to investigate these things but I never have time w/my equipment in these situations. oh well, it's fine to get me through and rik's got the direct signal too. "down on the street" and the band is tight, great. you can't know how happy it makes me to be part of this, it's so intense on me - of course I've got to get on my knees when iggy jumps up on my amps! "a year w/a very special number" - while ig's spieling a little for "1969," I hit the mute button and check the tuning and damn, if this tuner's slow to get a read - wonder what's up? especially w/the lower notes, like w/the 'e' string. I could do it w/my ear easy but I don't want bogart or distract from ig's spiels cuz for one thing, they're really good and for another, that's a fucked up thing to do. "I wanna be your dog" is next and iggy takes his first stage dive - fine form, just like a javelin toss. I love it when he does that - man, how I wish I could but these fucking knees of mine. really though, I shouldn't complain cuz at least I can walk but I sure do wish I could hurl and whirl like iggy. you know, I've been trying to work my bass like I was doing a skateboard for some time now - going back to minutemen days - but I have to say being on stage w/the iggster has brought that idea to another level or rather a different focus, one that's more expressive of what's inside. shit, it's hard to put in words - all I know is I feel it big time. "tv eye" is next - shake, shake, shake... the bass player's a fucking nut! I keep it together enough to keep a hug on the bass but she's bucking and bucking up out of my hands. I can tell ig wants this crowd to come more alive - well, hell - he always wants that but this gig's folks are a little staid - it's hard for me to understand why they don't get as shook up as me w/the tunes. there's also like a "peanut gallery" to our starboard and maybe this is for vip types or something but they get a good dose of fingers from the stooges singer. down in the valley w/"dirt" and I notice iggy's cut up on the forehead more, damn - might've been from the "...dog" dive. art, jos, nob (great to see nobby ok after that massive hellride he did from turin to here) and eric get their hands all full for the "real cool time" and "no fun" audience participation segments of the gig. it's so great to see folks having fun on stage w/iggy, love it. sometimes they dance a little for me too and even take pictures! you could never fault these cats for not being alive enough and iggy says, "thank you, dancers" when wind up and put the motor in idle a bit, this is the part where ig introduces the band. well, us three on the stage now cuz steve comes out at the end of our next tune, "1970" but he gets big shout outs at the end of "dead rock star" later on. I shouldn't just us three cuz of scotty reminding ig of what he said at the first gig back together at coachella, ig hollers "and I'm fucking iggy!" a mighty force-feed is under way, that's the way it feels cuz the stooge-coaster is in full-tilt for me. I spend the end part in front of ron and of course just have to holler "blow, steve!!!" right into steve's face. it's trippy for me to see them stoic and standing still - I can't help but be off my fucking rocker. different pokes for different folks. usually ron has a great mix in his monitors but I think something's too loud and blasting him out cuz he's standing a little further back than he usually does. I beat my bass up good for "l.a. blues" and knock the new pickup in her down again - damn, this design they got going for it does not suit the wrestling style I got going for working a bass. another brief run for this baby and then into "skull rings" - scotty laying it out solid on the floor w/me rolling up on top of it. ron's spraying notes like he's working a hose spraying drywall - folks are covered and left dripping. before we get into "dead rock star," some young kid hollers up "suck my dick" to iggy and ig says, "come up here and show everyone your little austrian dick - c'mon... show 'em" which handles the heckle cold and fast - no one's jumping up to take up on that offer. he says it a couple times even though later he tells me later he thinks it was the kid's friend who put him up to it cuz he got real meek real quick. last tune to go is "little electric chair" and for the life of me I can't believe we're lost come the guitar solo part. ig's down w/the folks off stage and in the pit but he hears what's going on - or rather, what's not going right - and brings us together w/a solid count - whew, we recover. it was some masterful conducting there by the master himself, much respect to ig - the bow of the boat. he grabbed me by the shoulder from behind and I felt an incredible sense of order come about me. that might sound weird but it sure was reassuring. it was like a voice in my head saying, "calm down, watt cuz we're gonna get this together." we finish and run off the stage and iggy let's us know the crowd's kind of sedate and for as hard as he's working it, it sure would be happening to get some back. a little frustrating but that's not stopping us from going back out and doing "not right" and "I wanna be your dog" as intense as we can make it. I'm loving it.
I get out of my wet shirt when I get back to the railcar/dressingt. I was insecure, thinking about the clammed-up part of "...chair" and yammering a bit much on ron as we were walking back and when I realized it was bugging on him, I put the plug in the jug - snapped the lid on the wordhole. it's better to listen, I'm thinking - that'll help me learn better. ron likes to talk when he's ready to talk and I can understand that. scotty sits across from me, always ready to reassure - these are some good brothers and they're the best to me. I listen to them - ron's monitor was blasting on him but still, he liked the gig. scotty too. the room needs to breathe so I let it. if there's words to be said, let it be asheton ones - well, of course in concert w/mister mackay. then art comes to bring me to iggy's room and there's a glass of margeaux wine he wants me to try. whoa, it's intense! I notice my knees are a little like his - I ask him if he knows of osgood-schlatter and sure enough, we share this affliction. I had surgeries on both my knees in my early twenties and it's always been a week spot for me. we talk knees for a while - he never had to have surgery but he was a teenager when it came on - they built a golf course by his pad in the trailer park in ypsilanti and golfing is tough on the knees - something I didn't know cuz I don't know much about that sport. I can believe it though, we told me about the twists your knee makes to drive the ball. damn. he sure is inspiring though the way he works a stage and I love his songs. trippy how so many cats have borrowed from him. he has a great perspective on lots of stuff too. I ask him about brian jones from the stones and he says the man was good but not strong enough for the tough hustles that go w/the territory. he said there was some tough rock guys from england in the 60s though - he said two reasons: one, they came from a class society so driving hard is what's got you over and two, the u.s. was a colony earlier so guess who shouldn't be forgetting that. ig has a good sense of the big picture - like when he was saying the other night about there's a lot of "sugar" in u.s. culture - in the current movies, in particular. it's not like taking sides about one land against another land, just an assessment of a situation that presents itself. I learn so much being around all these stooge guys, their wisdoms are mindopeners for me. I get a gut feeling for things they hit but find to articulate it succinctly as I gather hearing from them. I'm all ears cuz their words strike chords that ring out into ideas inside of me.
time to go and I meet the boss of the gig, paul. wow, this is the cat who did like four or five gigs w/me in austria the last time I did a europe tour, back in the spring of 1998 for the "...engine room" opera w/the black gang. he's an english cat but has been living here quite a while and right now is in a struggle w/the clear channel people - can you believe those clowns are trying to take control over here too?! damn. I think paul and his folks can take them though, from the way he's describing things. now I remember, my europe booker cat, a beautiful dutchman named carlos, had the company he was at (mojo) taken over by clear channel. I knew it was someone big but didn't put two and two together. slow learner watt. anyway, it's good to see paul again.
an hour ride back to vienna from wiesen and scotty's singing some country tunes. he likes hank williams junior. he know george jones too. the moon's out trippy. we get in around two and I'm asked to join nobby, steve and chris in rik's room. I haven't done this all tour but what they hey - the next three days are here in vienna w/out a gig! trippy. so, rik gives me a bottle - a funny looking bottle, especially for tequilla (like three globes of ascending sizes) and I fucking pour it down w/some water. borracho watt. not insane but maybe the talking loud kind. at least I stopped at one bottle. I like these guys too, they're quite interesting. they're great cats to work w/too and have always made me feel not too alone, solid cats. this is a good team I'm w/though hopefully they know that I mean it most sincerely. it must be funny for them to see me this way but that's ok cuz I like making them happy. I'm too together on being such a drunk much anymore but I guess this one time is kind of ok. rik konks out first but we love him much so no cat turds get dumped in his open mouth. no stupid shit even gets written on his forehead. it's a cue for me though to head for my own chamber and do likewise on my own deck. guten nacht.
monday - wednesday, july 12 - 14, 2004 - vienna, austria
I pop on the deck w/my levis soaked from pissing myself - see why I don't get drunk much anymore? it's not healthy for me, I got fucking worn out from it. my body has to remind me later when the head can't in the moment. I am fucking ridiculous. there's a free shovel at this pad so I go down to the frustuck room and trough it up after scrubbing up and washing my clothes in the tub when my turn was done. I did all my levis - this room has a window that opens up to the outside and though you can't walk out, you can easily hang stuff on the ledge of what's almost a turret opening on the edge of the roof. it's really cloudy though and the sky heavy w/rain about to burst - you would never know it was july and supposed to be summer. we're here for the next three days w/out a gig so I'm combining them all into one entry for this diary chimping. this room is like a long corridor w/the door on one end and the window at the other. in between is the head, the tub/shower room, the konk room and then a little-study like room (that's where the window is). it's long and narrow - reminds me of a boat. scotty's next to me and ron's next to him so all three of ours are similar. when I finish hanging my jeans over the ledge to dry, I look over and see both ron and scotty out their portals, shoulder high and looking over the town. trippy w/us poking through the green tin, like stooge gargoyles.
it starts raining so I bring that clothes in and drape them on chairs and furniture, they're damp but not soaked. there's a package that came from me via regular tourboss henry, who's on the road w/the corrs now (that's why roadboss eric has taken up his duties for this tour). in it is the charger and battery for my minolta dimage digicamera that I left at the ho when we played dublin castle a few weeks ago, thank you henry. what the fuck, why not try the battery out since the camera's had many days to dry out... whoa - it works! hard to believe but the little one is back in the race. I think I'll sell this samsung one I got in athens to my sister when I get home cuz she's been looking for a digicamera. why I dig about the minolta is that it's so tiny and turns on in less than a second. I just gotta be more fucking careful! damn, that's a trip and quite surprise. well, alright!
there's a sign on top of the tv that lists the channels and I notice a russian one and wonder what that's like. well, it's all in russian and there's no subtitles. there's a movie on that seems to be maybe a kid one but I can't figure out what's up. that draws me to it though and I watch the whole thing - I must've caught the beginning cuz it's on for quite a while. seems there's these two school boys and they're having some trippy adventures at school and in the town. there's a girl too but the scenes just switch from one deal to another and it's hard to understand how things are connecting - I'm totally lost. bizarre. I never watch tv on tour so this is an unusual way for me to spend time. the rain outside though makes me not want to take a chance on getting sick. I got this new book I got in italy and want to read that but I wait 'till the russian movie is done cuz I'm compelled to get what's up w/it. I never do. they seem to be putting on a play in it or a musical or whatever besides the plot, wheels within wheels. I am confused. the credits come on at the end and of course they're in cyrillic but I do recognize "1983" so maybe that's when it was made. damn, that was frustrating in a way! maybe it's better it was mysterious though - it did hold my attention which I find it impossible w/most of the shit that comes over this machine.
I read the hospitaler/templar book and burn right through, I can fathom what's wrote there. knowledge got flowed east to west through these cats and their navies after so much getting lost in the dark ages. night is coming on and I finish chimping in all of the dhammapada into my 'puter and return the book to scotty. that was sure nice of him to let me do that. we're on one of the inner ring roads of downtown (karntner ring), right near the centrum so there's lots of these chow stands and I go out for a few minutes to get some donner-teller which is like gyro meat on a plate w/salad. four euros and pretty good. weird how this is the only outside time I've had the whole day. tour is never like that for me, I try to see all I can but today was trippy like that.
the next day (tuesday), I pop early and there's sun out so I hang my still damp pants out the window ledge. I then do the free shovel before heading towards the museumquartier - I want to see if my friend raymond pettibon's art is there cuz he's done many shows in this town - the austrians were some of the first europeans to embrace him. I got the little minolta digicam w/me - my first foray w/it since discovering it fixed after that dry-out. I take a route leading me through the burggarten and see the goethe and mozart statues. the big public buildings are pretty impressive around here, they had a bosslady named maria-theresa who reigned during a period when they built much though eveyone know vienna has always had its culture. the museum moderner kunst doesn't have any of raymond's works up - oh well. there is a mike kelley thing coming soon though (mike kelley and me starred in one of raymond's first films, "sir drone" in 1989. he also played drums in what ron calls "the art phase" of destroy all monsters) but I can see any of it now. what is up is a lot of art that deals w/photos of messy and gross stuff, like animal guts and blood on people - pretty whatever. there's some yoko ono things and a picasso too. at the leopold museum there's a big goya exhibition. I hoof around and take tons of shots. I see a statue that makes me laugh outside the people's theatre cuz the title they give to this guy is "spieler" - maybe that's an actor? I know the yiddish for that word more than the german, I guess. at a stand I get a bratwurst which are way skinnier than the kind you'd get in the u.s. - two long thin sausages and you get some dark brown bread w/it too plus some mustard though all three are seperate on the plate - not hotdog style where they're made into a sandwich kind of thing. it's econo and good.
rain's coming down so I get back to the ho - at least I got a bunch of hours around the town and it made me think of the first time I was here, back in 1983 w/the minutemen and black flag. neat to know I haven't got jaded enough to have lost the wonder I had then - towns still trip me out their ways and things to either discover or like in this case, re-discover. one of my friends calls it the "travel bug" but I think I'm permanently infected. it's righteous I got work that accommodates it so - lucky fucking watt. I see see rik and he lets me know about this internet cafe he's found and that the starbucks (suresucks or arefucks) usually has wifi going on. man, I haven't been on the net since bonn and that was just the second gig! I've never been this disconnected on a tour since net stuff got to be part of my life. weird. what I need is access for my 'puter so I can get this tour spiel I've been chimping up on my hoot page so I make for fartclucks. hmm... nothing's coming up on the tipurse but I see a lady w/her 'puter open. I go to ask her if there's wifi happening here for her. turns out she's working on school work and this barfchucks has no wifi. interesting though, she digs the heironymus bosch painting I got for my desktop and so I flow her like fifty different bosch scans I got in the tipurse and find out she's russian. whoa, that's a trip cuz of that movie I watched yesterday and I explain what I saw in hopes she can clue me into understanding what I was seeing. turns out that movie is very well known there - it's called "prikluchenija petrova i vasechkina" ("the adventures of petrov and vasechkin"). ain't that a mindblow! it's about two school boys where one wants to be the smartest and one wants to be the strongest. they meet this wizard who makes all kinds of things happen - that's why it was hard for me to understand why things were happening the way they were. what a coincidence I would meet someone who could hip me to this - life is a trip! an interesting lady, I listen to her for a while and tell her some stuff too... all this from just wanting to get the 'puter online. I guess the role of ambassador is always waiting for all of us in one way or another. if you're willing to listen and open to learning then maybe others can get the same thing from you. it's a trip about that. like what me and ron were talking about last week - there's the tribe and there's the exotic, two fibers twisting around the thing we call human.
night's on now and I go back to the ho and visit scotty. he tells me about him getting a transistor radio when he was young - when they were new. he said it was big and one day he heard that song "alley oop" on it. he said ron heard it and started laughing and both of them were digging it but then their ma gets all mad, takes the radio away from scotty and he never saw it again. that is until he visited his grandma one day and there was the radio, there on the table. whoa. see, it's kind of a trip that scotty's always been the younger brother but around me, I'm the "younger brother" and his role is reversed. same w/me - always being the oldest (or "the chief" like my organman pete says) but not in this situation, from growing up w/no brothers to being here like this. it's a good thing for me, something out of my norm and I get to take in so much. I can never thank these cats enough for letting me be part of something so intense on me.
ron's got a collecting side he gets to indulge here in vienna and shows us stuff he got at some antique stores. pretty intense! tiredness is on me and after some time w/the asheton's plus rik and nobby downstairs, I'm ready for that deck to accept me all konked.
third day in a row w/out a gig begins w/pop, soak and shovel. I chimp some diary and then decide to call senor mackay cuz I ain't seen him in a couple days. how can that be? I ask him if we can go visit some stuff together - stuff I saw years ago but I want to see again. steve's got a good rap and fun to be w/besides getting to learn a bunch - all these cats w/this team have tons they can learn watt and I'm truly digging it - we head towards karlskirche. I stumbled into this church over twenty years ago and it was quite an experience. on the way, we pass this building w/a statue of adam smith and one of columbus on each side of its doors - some kind of older business school - trippy. karlskirche is intense when you come up on it. being built in the early 1700s, it's in the baroque rococo style - bizarre elements (greek and roman ones) combining to make quite a unique church, w/'pert-near minarets like a mosque or something even. inside there's a huge altar that has behind it a triangle w/jewish letters on it coming out metal clouds. the painting on the dome ceiling way up high is a amazing. after seeing all we can, we make our way towards saint stephen's cathedral. on the way, we see iggy, who's looking at stuff in a store window. he starts laughing when he sees us and says, "you're wearing the same thing - it's like we're in a cartoon!" he's right, I've had the same shirt on all tour though I've washed it much so it's not like I'm stinking it up. he also says, "me too!" cuz he only brought two outfits himself. he sure has a knack for hitting it right on the head. we say bye and check out saint stephen's. this was started in the middle 1300s and couldn't more different than karlskirches but is still intense. I point out to steve all the instances of skulls, something you see a lot in older stuff. trippy how this place is surrounded by an outdoor mall w/all these shops. we see chris, nobby and rik and they want to go to a movie but "shrek II" - no fucking way... bye guys. I get me and steve two huge slices of pizza w/tuna on it (one for each of us) for only three euros and then go back to the ho. there's some bargains if you look hard but this is not the most econo part of town.
roadboss eric tells me about this "business center" here and I find a room w/two 'puters hooked up to the internet. the connection is incredibly slow but I find 'pert-near nine hundred emails in my inbox - I can get to them cuz it takes like five minutes to load each one. I do delete some crap - you know, the "funny" mpegs that are like a couple of megs each and now my account's no longer over quota. boy, do I have some work ahead when I get back to pedro! I go visit scotty and he tells me about birds. there's one called the thrusher that knows over eleven hundred songs - damn, that's some repertoire! seems this bird can fake out a lot of other ones by knowing their tunes. that's a mindblow. we go visit ron downstairs (trippy how the elevator has cushioned seats in two of the corners - we ride down sitting down!) and he tells about more collectables he's gather, spending like fifteen hundred euros. he says they're good finds though and worth it. scotty had his laundry done here and he said it cost the equivalent of like two hundred dollars, holy somke! it was all folded up nice and packaged 'pert-near for xmas but not so much worth all that. same w/the beer, he said three days of buying that here in the ho was some major chick-ching too. man, are theses places burn wards. ron's drinking white russians - he likes those. our last night here in vienna - I can't tell you how ready I am to play again, it's kind of making me crazy. I get a donner-kabob (gyro meat in some bread) from this kurdish cat at a stand across from the ho, before you get to the light rail train - I think this is the guy steve's told me he's been talking too cuz he kind of knows who I am. steve said he was great at conversation but I'm beat and hit it back to what seems like my own apartment cuz I've been here so long. it is a quiet pad and like I said before, has a narrow beam like a boat so that's neat. I notice a small sign on the back of a door and it says 605 euros/night - we can't be paying that much! maybe that's the chump rate. a deck's a deck w/your eyes closed - I guess unless there's vermin running across your chest and face. I forgot to mention we found out portugal got scissored again so the tour ends now after tomorrow night in spain. gonna miss playing there cuz it would've been my first gig in that land ever and besides, I hate missing a chance whatever to play w/these guys cuz it's truly a dream come true. much respect to iggy and the asheton brothers. ok, time to konk.
thursday, july 15, 2004 - santiago, spain
pop early and soak in the tub - then one more vienna shovel down in the frustuck room. we pile up in the rides for the airport at ten and then meet captain nik at his jet. bye bye, vienna. I'm in my now regular seat in the back facing back. it's a three hour flight to santiago in the galicia part of spain, north of portugal. a beautiful view of the alps as we fly over them, leaving the rainy weather behind us. one more gig left. I chimp diary while everyone chows, having already done so earlier at the ho (or "tel" - like ron and scotty like to call it).
man, is it different when the plane lands and we debark... 'pert-near like out in the mojave! very warm and dry. ig, art and the asheton's head for a ho to konk while I go w/the crew to the venue. we're playing at this outdoor amphitheatre called monte do gozo and it's laid out like an old greek-style pad w/cement rings for seats going up a slight hill all by itself w/no town anywhere around it. I chow some breaded chicken that's done up sort of schnitzel style - all flat and thin. I have some salad w/it. john giddens, iggy's booker man (the cat who booked this tour) is here from england and visits w/me a bit. he has kind words for the band and says it's great to see iggy playing w/us. I think I first met him at the scotland gig but here I get to talk w/him. there's a band from england going on before us called the darkness and when he's chowing w/them, he introduces me and I get to meet the two brothers and the drummer. I've heard of them but don't know much though some people have told me they're like spinal tap. I tell them that but then think maybe that was a stupid thing to say. "remove foot from mouth, watt" - man, I am I idiot sometimes. I didn't mean to make any hurt. like my pop would tell me sometimes: "boy, your mouth is running but your head's out of gas." sure 'nuff. they're very nice to me. I'm gonna watch them play when it's their turn.
I'm chimping diary while pretty much by myself in dressing room but my thoughts are pretty filled w/this being the last gig of the tour. so many tours I've done and w/the last gig comes it's such a trippy feeling, knowing you've almost made it through a journey that could have so many things go wrong but here you're just about to make it all the way through. sometimes I think nothing can go wrong on the last gig of a tour, even if there's fuckups or breakdowns or whatever, it's still gonna be alright cuz we got this far. it's a neat feeling. jos is here - he drove the equipment all the way from vienna - damn, what a hellride! for this tour he used is own ride, a mercedes-benz sprinter though nobby did some of the drives too. jos has some property in portuagal and he visited there before getting here. some stage politics w/the local crew here and our cats, aaarrrggghh... but like I earlier said, nothing can go wrong on the last gig! rik too has a toy board to mix w/but he got the skills and I know he can get it going. bob, the man who has creem magazine now, gave me some black "boy, howdy!" shirts and when ron and scotty come, I give each of them one. I'm gonna wear mine for this final gig of the tour. I go and watch the darkness play, they're pretty good and look very much like they're trying - not a campy spinal tap thing at all. the singer has a really high voice, like freddy mercury. I think they're rockin', which I know sounds pretty funny coming from someone like me but I like their gig. we're next.
last time this tour to wait around before we go on. this is kind of a torturous time, pacing and stretching - mainly I do it in silence. it kind of drives you nuts but what can you do? try to focus, that's one good thing to center on. if I let the fears overwhelm me, I'll be a basketcase so I try to think of those who inspire in attempt to catch their fire. I see them in my mind in front of me and trying to talk get me calm, talking sense to me. ron paces big time. I make my laps too. scotty pounds out beats on his kneepad thing. ig does stretches to loosen up. I pick up on this and twist around, twirl my arms and bendover w/my legs straight and grab my toes. what seems like forever finally goes by - 9:30 pm now - time to get this under way. we're led up stairs and to the stage. iggy says "let's go!" and I run over to my place. I've put a piece of tape on the switch that chooses which pickup I'm using - the new one or the old set up and damn if the switch is set to the wrong place! I don't realize this yet though and when we start off w/"loose," my sound is way muffled. I try to compensate w/eq adjustments but damn, the gig is on! focus on playing, watt. the spaniards are really into, keying in on iggy and following his every move - it's wild. into "down on the streets" and I get my sound a little better but there's too much gain and the speakers are getting it a little too heavy. no time to finesse it though, time to work it w/the stooges! one more time iggy jumps up on my amp cabs and does it up good. once again, I'm on my knees - I pretty surprised how good my knees have been holding up - it must be the pedaling I'm doing back home. my ankles are a hurting some though and I know that's from the hoofing. man, is iggy in good form - he is lit up all the way and so intense! he sings, he dances and he's got all of us - both the band and the crowd - under his spell. it's a total mindblow for me. we finish and are ready for "1969" and during ig's intro, I realize the switch being in the wrong position. I fix that and man, does my bass sound better for this tune. fucking idiot watt! when I get back to pedro, I'm gonna put this switch inside the control cavity and set to this new pickup. the band is smokin' on this tune, the best this tour. "I wanna be your dog" is next and everyone sings this along w/ig, viva! kind of a pause and while I wait for "tv eye," I look over and see the darkness singer watching us on the port side of the stage. alright! I get a little too pumped though and have to get way over on ron's side to get right w/the groove - I slipped a little for a moment. stupid watt, hold the focus. ron is on fire w/his guitar shooting no blanks whatsoever, damn! bro scotty w/that kick drum thumping so, no prob finding my way back - the feel wrestles itself right into me. a calmer time w/"dirt" - ig puts his finger up to his ear and I come down on the volume which I do anyway for this one but even more so, getting the cue. there's some weird resonances on the stage which sometimes happens. ron fires right into "real cool time" and iggy invites folks on stage which they take him up on right away and soon we gotta a stage-full. this one kid points at a button he's wearing and wants to trade it for the "fatherfucker" one I got pinned to my shirt. "sure," I tell him though I don't know how he hears me over the roar. I'd do it myself but I'm playing! the button he gives me says "azkena" which was the name of the festival we played almost a year ago in vitoria-gastiez, east of here in the basque part - he must've been there! someone told me there were cats from all over spain here tonight. this foams me up some and I get way outside the lick and jamming it up into space - not good. a little carried away, the young people up here's enthusiasm has got into me a bit and I let it get hold of my playing. not too responsible, damn. I owe these stooges much and must hold my ground. there's a huge crowd around ig but I can see his eyes and they're saying to me, "get it together, watt." will do, we go into "no fun" and the dancing gets wilder but still no one's abusive - much respect to the spaniards. some of them do "air bass" in front of me, too much! we're all having a great time up here. we finish up the tune and the kids leave the stage - ig speaks some spanish to crowd and introduces the band - he's been so great about that this whole tour. much respect to him. we rev up the "1970/fun house/l.a. blues/skull rings" medley and end the set w/"dead rock star" - iggy hipped us to this change just before we went on. we come back on for one more tune for this tour, the "double dog" version of "I wanna be your dog" w/steve mackay along w/us on sax. it's a wailer to no end and then we're done and that means the tour's done, chingas. I hand nobby my bass and run the whole way to the dressing room. whew. big hugs for ron, scotty and steve when they join me - we did it! it's not like I did perfect though cuz when iggy gets to his room, he has me come over and calls me on all that noodle-shit I let go in "real cool time" - no argument from me cuz I know he's absolutely right and I've gotta get it together that way, even if I did get carried away cuz it's no excuse. he's not mean about it, just to the point and I appreciate that. he gives me a glass of the wine they've brought him, a riojo, which in his words is "real nice" and man, does it taste great.
we cool do for a while and then it's time to head off for the airport cuz we're flying the challenger 600 one more time, to paris cuz all our flights home are leaving from there in the morning. jana serves us chow and I have a steak for my last one. iggy sits across from me and I'm sort of in yammer mode and tell him some of my history, about my pop and early times w/d. boon. it's not a total bogart cuz he's interested and let's me bag some wind. there I go, getting carried away again. I didn't mean to and maybe I was just so happy cuz of getting to be on such a happening tour w/a great band... I look up to these guys so much, I'm 'pert-near overwhelmed. we land and one last good bye to captain nik (vielen dank, bruder!) and it's like four am when we check into the same ho we used last when we played that motorcycle race here in france (bol d'or) before flying back to the u.s. my flight is at ten am so that means I gotta pop before seven. luckily, I'm used to poppin' early so it shouldn't be a problem but for insurance I shower and get into the clean clothes I planned on wearing for the flight and konk in them on the deck w/the curtains open so the sun will give me a nudge when it comes up.
friday - saturday, july 16-17, 2004 - san pedro, ca, usa
my flight is way earlier than everyone elses so I'm by myself when I bail for de gaulle airport in the shuttle from the ho. no one to say bye to but hopefully they'll feel it somewhere inside them cuz I'm sending all the team - ig, ron, scotty, steve, art, jos, rik, eric, chris and nobby - as much grateful vibes as I can muster cuz I dearly wish them all well. everyone worked so hard to make this sally forth tight and righteous. I have no prob being early - it's being late the grates hard on me - so the three hours before boarding are no big deal. even though I'm big time tired, I stay awake cuz hell if I'm gonna konk and miss the ride home! I'll wait 'till I'm all aboard and that I do, for like eight of the eleven and a half hours it takes to get to san francisco international airport. it was ok in fact cuz way in the back w/the cattle-call seats, it sure makes me insane w/my knees and spending most that stay in sleepytown was a major relief. why s.f. instead of pedro? well, I was supposed to join the lollapalooza tour w/my secondmen here 'till it got scissored just before I bailed to canada w/kira. when portuagal got the same thing from this stooges tour, I'm so grateful eric and of course iggy gave me a direct flight instead of a stop in frankfurt cuz damn if ain't almost guaranteed that my bass ain't gonna be there if there's a connection involved. I'm flying back to pedro via oakland to long beach tomorrow night. tonight though, I'm gonna konk w/my old pedro friend lisa roeland (we go back to the 70s) and her boyfriend kenny. their buddy and new roommate danielle has borrowed a ride and all three pick me up at around three in the afternoon. it's so great to see all of them.
they got special brownies from guapo for me when I get to there pad, near where the giants play baseball. when night comes on they all three chow me at kind of fancy pad called delancy's where folks who work there do that instead of going to prison. I have some good pork and dig that. then I ask them to take me to vusuvio's and specs, two bars near city lights book store where steve mackay told me to check out cuz he said that's where interesting folks used to hang out in the north beach part of town during the 60s. my hosts want to know all about the tour so I spend the whole night telling them about it. when we get back to their pad, I want to tell them more but konk as soon as I get there - the tiredness had caught up w/me.
saturday morning I pop early and hose off, then go walk by the water for a few hours to decompress some. when I get back, lisa and kenny want to take me to the asian art center cuz there's a special exhibition on geishas. it's a great pad - the geisha thing is only one part and there's tons of art from india, china, indonesia, japan, cambodia, thailand, nepal - lots of asian art, much of it really old. I must see like a couple hundred buddhas and makes me think of scotty and the little smiling one he brings along w/him on tour. we spend many hours there. trippy, I learn that "geisha" means a person of the arts and not a puta, those were known as courtesans and they tied the bows of their kimonos in the front and not the back like a geisha would. it all interests me much. when we get back, lisa and danielle borrow lisa's old boss' truck and they take me to the oakland airport (a nice little one) where I take a jet blue flight to long beach.
I love this airport cuz like ninety percent of it is outside! it's really small and so easy to manage, I really dig it. my sister melinda got a little lost (going the wrong way on lakewood!) but she comes and gets me for the ride home to pedro. I'm back safe from yet another tour. I got prac w/my secondmen guys at six - an hour to go. then you know what I'm looking forward to big time... a good long soak in my own tub! after doing the don quixote thing, sallying forth, tilting at windmills and all that - I can't wait to pedal and paddle in my own pedro town...
iggy pop + the stooges
in scotland/england/ireland - 2004
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