j mascis and the fog
j mascis - guitar, singing
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel (w/statue of james watt)
(left to right)
david scheid - tour boss/helper man
noel ford - soundman
russell warby - the man outside the van
thursday, may 31, 2001 - london, england
lift-off for another tour, third one this year w/j. we go to europe for three and a half weeks. the plan was to include southern europe gigs, like in italy, spain and the balkans but that got scissored by the forces that be. damn. instead, we just have northern europe - england, scotland, belgium, holland, germany, denmark, norway and sweeden. I'm still grateful for being invited. every town has something to teach watt, regardless of its geography. it's quite a pleasure and honor to play w/j also, I can't express how much I've dug the opportunity to work the bass for a such as him.
cuz of the hellride flight that would be from l.a. to europe, I decided to rather go to new york city earlier and then fly from there to london a few days later. another consideration is that warren haynes from _government mule_ has asked me to do a song w/him and the drummer matt for their next record. their bass cat, allan woody passed away last year and they're making this record w/a guest bassist for each tune. I'll get to see elizabeth too.
so w/that in mind, I flew into jfk airport on saturday, early in the morning after a banyan gig in santa monica. wow, was nels and perk tearing it up at the banyan gig, damn! before the gig, my friend raymond pettibon was having an art opening maybe a mile away. I went to that and was blown away when raymond fronted this band and sang songs he wrote! the art was great too, books he made during the 80s and 90s - I saw drawings up that I was sitting in the room w/raymond while he drew them. plus there was all this new stuff painted right on the gallery's walls. saw tom watson there, me and him are going to tour this september w/a pedro friend of mine, jerry trebotic, who's girlfriend kelly just had a baby girl. they made me her godfather. very honored, this watt.
w/only an hour of konk, my s.l.c. bud, don (originally from pedro, that's why he's here visiting family), takes me to the airport and it's off and on sueno for the plane ride. I get to jimbo's on canal and it's great to see him again. elizabeth calls late, like at midnight and has me meet her to go dancing. that's way fun for watt. much, she's a great dancer. I'm so tired though and finally the adrenaline gives way at about three and I gotta make it fast to jimbo's and collapse. sunday I showed fellow pedroid thalia (_li'l pit_ singer) the lower west side, along the hudson river from the holland tunnel down to battery park and then we took the ferry to stanton island there and back (it's free). then a walk through wall street and I show them the new york stock exchange. later, I went w/jimbo and don flemming to the west village and saw the _zombies_, or rather two of them doing a very turgid classic rock show. damn, was it bad. me and jimbo bailed early. twentyfive bucks for the ticket and five for a soda water - all a waste. not for watt. monday was memorial day and elizabeth took me by the boats by the uss intrepid museum. it was fleet week, the navy had a few boats in (one was the enterprise - the carrier my pop served on during viet nam) and there were sailors all over the place in their dress whites. we chowed bratwursts later and she let me tell her memories of my pop and d. boon too. it was good to remember them. I miss them both much. thank you, elizabeth, such a good listener. before that, we got her keyboard hooked up to a four track so she can work on this project we have, _shinypants_. she then played piano for me and it was wonderful, made me melt. tuesday was a meeting w/the mule cats about the recording. we talk about doing that b.o.c. tune, "the red and the black," I explained to them john fogerty was the reason I wore flannels, he had such an effect on me as a kid and as well on d. boon. I can't say there was a band more influential on both of us as ccr. we learned every song they did as boys. loved that voice, loved that guitar, loved them tunes - the words too. it just happened also to be john fogerty's birthday. lots of conncetions. afterwards, I meet matt at this b.b. king club in times square to see john entwhistle at some industry trough thing. much respect to b.b. but this pad was the worst, the sound was like a skating rink. what a trip to see mr. entwhistle's fingers go but for watt it got to be another horrid classic rock wank. I enjoyed seeing drummer matt sit in on "johnny b. goode," playing one of those 'cage' kits w/double kick drums. the next day was the recording and that was something. I had been so nervous the last few days before it, kind of petrified and out of my mind really but they were really cool guys and made things nice for me. warren and matt decided on choosing a creedence clearwater revival song, "effigy," and then putting some parts of two other tunes by them, "slip away" and "ramble tamble." the studio was this old yiddish theatre on the lower east side and we recorded right on stage, like a gig. mike from _phish_ was making a movie about the creating of this record so first I had to do some spiel and answer some bass questions. he was great and asked me some happening stuff. I was quite nervous but at least had the little bass right there in my hands, compass and all. then came the recording. the first take had me so stressed, I clammed like crazy so I sat down for the next ones. "effigy" is a heavy tune, words about burning down the palace and shit like that. much respect to creedance but I wanted to take the tune and the mule cats in another way so I let the little bass sing and improvise, trading eights w/the chords and then real going out w/the parts from the other two tunes. matt did too. I found out later they don't do overdubs, just chop tape so that was quite a trip. it was a blast playing w/them though and I have to say I was quite relieved when we got takes three, four and five done cuz they were keepers. each one was like ten minutes long but they said it would end up around eight. I was totally drained and must've sweated like five pounds off but at least we did it. wow, after never playing w/them before in my life. much respect to warren and matt. matt lives in the val, near perk so I want him to come to pedro when there's time and show him the town. man, the bass players on this project. I tried not to let that effect me but there's john entwhistle, jack bruce, george porter, flea, les claypool, john paul jones, roger glover, chris squire, stanley clarke - damn, you name it. quite scary on watt from that angle too. I got through it though and am quite honored they asked me to do it. what a pants-shitter though, I swear I was going to crumble. warren and matt plus producer michael's (felix papalardi's cousin - whoa!) spirits kept me buoyed however. thanks, bros. back to jimbo's and he gives me the greatest going away resent: a new konk mask to keep the light out. this one is really bonus w/a wide velcro strap to keep it on and a soft velvety inside for comfort. thanks, jimbo.
pop at the crack of dawn and noel comes by in a hired car and we go to the airport. eric, the old tour boss comes to help w/equipment. george shows up and we hug hard. j and david are already in england, getting the amps. what a hell getting all these amps and guitars to the checkout. elevator busted so we gotta go to another one. finally we get it all together and we're on the plane. bye eric, thanks. I'm in a center section in the back and the little screens on the seat in front of you that plays the movies is broke so the whole row is open. why do I care, I don't watch those stupid fucking lame movies they got on planes any way. a five-seat row all open, enough space for watt to konk in. that session drained me so last night, it's easy to konk, just like that w/the mask pulled down. I wake up and there's only a hour and a half left out of a seven hour flight to go. all right! a little more konk after some crud chow (why do I shovel this stuff anyway? gives me gas every time) and I wake to find us over ireland, heading towards heathrow airport - just west of london. we touch down early and we're off the plane. george had a lame time w/the lady next to him changing her baby's diaper and dumping it right in the seat pouch - damn! very quick and easy trip through customs, thank you nice english customs lady. we bring everything through. eric wanted someone to go through undeclared w/the merch but fuck that - why? it's fucking the stupidist stunt to ever try, even if you do get away w/it - this time. not my scene. anyway, david's waiting w/the van, some little mercedes "sprinter" model that we barely get everything in the back w/and there's still the drum set and pedal selector to go in tomorrow - whoa! smooth drive into london and we're staying where we did last decemeber, in the kensington area by gloucster road station. it's eleven. get an email off at the internet pad down the road and then I'm happy to konk just after midnight. easy konk, no jetlag. all the nervous shit all week as worn me down good so I don't have to worry about laying there w/my eyes wide open, staring into the dark. on the deck, a london deck w/watt in a clump, konked.
friday, june 1, 2001 - nottingham, england
pop and soak in the narrow but long tub. handles on the side to help w/weak-knee watt, especially after his joints are melted by the warmness. go downstairs and find they got "continental" chow here. what that means is no eggs but there's lots of fruit. I get a huge bowl of pears (peobably from a can) and they're good, lots of syrup. I love pears, really do. there's pineapple too and that's fresh so I get a bunch of hunks of that kiwi too (also fresh). ok, time to hoof. the weather's like what I just left in so cal - all gray - I never saw catalina once while I was home for those three weeks I was there and it's only twentytwo miles off the coast. walk the streets and take in some eye gifts. england's got a lot of old and interesting if you got eyes to look and want to. I'm taking it all in. I pass this pad that's got "english breakfast" for three pounds (around five bucks) and for some crazy reason, I want to pile this on top of all that good fruit I just chowed earlier. it's funny stuff, an egg on top of baked beans and french fries w/a hot dog buried in there too. funky. I can only get half of it down, too heavy. more hoofing to work this off, whoa.
we're set to bail at eleven and I get my stuff to the van. for the first time of the tour, I see j. he looks great, real healthy. ok, tour's on. we gotta go to rock-it cargo and get the pedal controller for j's effects. that drive's not too bad and by coincidence, we see the old dino roadie, steve joyce. j and george have a good reunion w/him. he's working for this english band _placebo_ now. good navigation by noel got us there quick but now north to the gig in nottingham and the traffic on the m1 (as in motorway) is way-plugged. it's as bad as anything back home, terrible. it takes us like three and half hours to go one hundred thirty miles. damn. great time in the van though getting re-acquainted again from our brief break in touring. so much traffic, maybe cuz it's friday. we do a blow-by past our exit, right by a big power plant that has cooling towers just like a nuke but as we get closere, you can tell it runs on coal. a loop and we're back on our way but shit gets tough inside the town itself. the way english towns are is that the roads don't really have intersections that allow left and right turns. they're all curvy and use roundabouts at big crossings. also, the streets change names every block or two so getting around can be very tough. after searching for a while, david uses the cell phone (only one we have cuz they use a different system here rather than the one we use in the u.s.) but those directions don't help either. we're looking for the _nottingham boat club_ and we're down by the river, the trent, but can't find it. the cell phone battery dies. damn. we pull into an english version of a home improvement center and plug the phone in there and ask the promoter to come get us. we're not too far away and he comes and gets us quick. his name is anton and he's a good cat. does gigs on the side and has a day job to pay the bills. the pad is an actual "boat club" where teams row these skinny boats in teams down the trent. they rent their upstairs out econo and anton throws gigs there. he says that tradition goes back to the 60s. not too big and most the tickets are already sold, it's gonna be packed in here tonight.
there's chow here backstage (well, the locker room) and I have a "honey roasted salmon on poppy seed bread" sandwich. I stuff it w/"crisps" (potato chips) to give it some crunch. good. some fresh pears too. a couple of more for watt. this is it for chow today. j and george have to put together the drum set, it's a ludwig vistalite set of j's so george don't have to use some beat up rental. no heads, so they gotta be put on. j's gonna use his usual setup, he's got one marshall cab that used to belong to _slaughter and the dogs_, that's funny. remember them on _live at the roxy_ way back? loved _johnny moped_ on that record. anyway, for me j got a marshall bass amp, some massive eight power tube called the 400 vsb that's got like four hundred watts. that tube watts, not transistor and man, is it loud! for soundcheck, I can only turn it about to less than nine o'clock. the cab is a brand new marshall version of the svt 8x10 classic. the rig sounds great. the little bass loves going through it. trippy playing once again w/a pick but I'll get it going. once again, jamming w/the fog! I dig it. the roof is really close to us so that means the lights are too. whoa, it's gonna be a cooker tonight. a couple of tunes and we're done. there's a band from san francisco opening up for us called _creeper lagoon_ and I talk w/them a bit. they're nice folks, a four piece. they played w/me last year at the "this ain't no picnic" festival in orange county and said they were embarrassed to go on after me (we opened the gig up at noon after driving all night from the _warped tour_ on a dock in s.f.) and I gotta tell them to take it easy cuz that's how life is: sometimes you're on before and sometimes you're on after - it's ok, at least you get on. life is made of many gigs anyway so just don't sweat that one. I go outside to the river (it's right in front of the club) and watch some mallards and swans, beautiful birds. my bud nez from ireland, who lives here in birmingham comes by w/his girl mel and we have a good time rapping about stuff. mel met amma about five years ago and got a hug and nez just recently put it together in him mind the connection w/j - what a trip. he's a good cat, so is mel and we have some good spiel. thanks, nez and mel.
I go back into the pad cuz for some reason, I'm thinking I've dontated my ron asheton yellow shades, like the ones I did in sacramento last leg of the tour. damn, I can't believe this fucking alzheimer shit of mine. I search everywhere and anywhere and can't find them. oh well. almost time for us to go on and the jack to my speaker cabinet loses its nut, aaarrrgggghhh! noel has to tape the cord in and it's a jerry-rig that'll make do for tonight. this pad is crammed w/folks and seems like everyone has a pint of beer in each hand - man, are the suds flowing. good cats though, no stupid or rowdy shit and we get up on stage for the first gig of the tour. first tune of the first gig is "blowin' it" and we're off. j looks trippy w/this funny shirt on. later, he'll tell me it's one of those shirts skinheads like to wear. wow, that's a trip. it's a black pullover shirt that's got funny short sleeves w/trim around them and a crew cut collar. hilarious to see him in that. he's really tearing it up though, damn! I blow a fucking clam the last time we do the intro part by mis-counting but pick it up quick and recover. what a doof, watt - focus. I kind of wish we had at least _one_ practice but whatever. I'm ready for what j throws me. I'm smoking a fuente 'gar but remember I got the backup vocal in the "the look I love part" and have to do it w/the 'gar in my mouth - stupid fucking watt - think ahead! "waistin'" is next and j's extend the "hey, c'mon" but george doesn't hear it and ends as though he's on auto-pilot. it's the only time of the night I'll hear george not be in the moment - he plays great even w/all the distractions to come his way. "same day" next and I blow some clams there too, fuck. the mics on george's drum kit are starting to tumble and slip. also, he forgot to take the rubber "shoes" off of the kick drum feet and that's causing it to slide on the floor. we go into the peel medley (_teenage fanclub_'s "everything flows," _pavement_'s "range life" and the _ruts_ "in a rut") and j really starts letting his guitar go for it, using a space-out pedal (I don't know its name) to really take it out there. wow. mics are falling on george's toms, I tighten one of them up but in "back before you go," the snare mic falls right on the head and george actually nails it a few times - damn! the crew cats are really nice and come help real quick. the crowd has a great spirit and really urges us on. _black flag_'s "I've had it" (w/me singing it) is next along w/the tune that almost always comes after, an old _dinosaur_ one, "repulsion." whoa, I'm starting to sweat now. this hair I got ain't been cut since around xmas and it's getting wild, what my sister calls "fire hair." it's doing a sprinkler system thing when I shake my head hard, funny. george is still having probs w/the flopping mics and creeping kick drum but he perseveres regardless. good job, george. "all the girls" is up and j starts the song but he's missing the capo on his guitar - oh no! wrong key. a couple of bars into it, we have to stop and re-group. david hands up a capo. no disrespect to david, he's got a lot going: guitar tuning, loading, setting up, driving, tour managing (co-ordinating press, advancing dates, settling after the gig, etc.) and he's doing a great job. these things just happen and we're getting back into the swing of things. we start the tune again and it goes good. I dig this tune - well, I have to admit I dig them all! we roll into "I'm not fine" and the place is jumping, the kids have a great spirit. I've always got a vibe from the kids at gigs here in england. sure, I have a problem w/the ruling class here but I do w/them everywhere, including the u.s. it's sure a privilege to work the little bass for the folks here and of course, j and george. next is "little fury things" and this one's a ripper too, yes. you can tell cats are really into j when they know all his older stuff that well and the audience is mostly not that old, pretty young but w/the knowledge. here comes "amma ring" and right in the first jam, I pop the 'a' string, damn. maybe amma is trying to teach me something, huh? very hard to get the jam going w/j, that 'a' is so critical but I don't shirk and try my best. man, is it tough. more real-life lessons for watt. in hindsight, I can really dig it - makes me reach down deep and think about what I'm doing. this can kind of get in the way of emotionally trying to express myself but there's something about having to scramble and do the best you can do at the moment. when we finish, j does "severed lips" to cover the moments it takes me to get the string on. I get it up fast though and join him by the second verse. the strings are too long for the little bass (it's a mid-60s gibson eb-3) so I gotta use pliers to make the strings shorter but that's easily done w/the leatherman-like tool my old pedro friend and next-door neighbor, tony gave me for last xmas. we close w/the _stooges'_ "tv eye" and the end part where I put the bass down and just do the spiel, I figure to try to do some daltry moves w/the mic but the cord is wrapped so tight around the stand its fucked and I gotta unconnect it for a sec to get it free. never do get it all the way so I just take it out of the stand and get it to my mouth. gotta tell david about the for the next gigs. what works for some bands, doesn't work for others and the house cats really can't know that. we come off the stage and I'm soaking wet - flannel, levis, everything. I gulp a liter of water down like that. my hands and feet are cramping like crazy, damn. we come back and do "the wagon" (we were supposed to do "budge" by j changed it as we're getting back on stage) and the house goes mad. all right! thank you, nottingham folks. we follow that w/the _cure_'s "(just like) heaven" and david gets his chance to sing at the end. great job, david. things finally end w/the always favorite "freak scene." I get behind george and play w/him there. we're done and nice handshakes from the house crew, much respect to them, thank you.
backstage and more water. many, many gulps and swallows. man, am I cramping up in my hands and foot arches, whoa! I did potassium this morning but I better build it up again in my system cuz my fingers are frozen in bizarre clenches. I eat another tablet. nez has some mota and damn, if it ain't like cali! those dutch have learned everyone over here. we prepare up a soda can. I'm so soaked and out of air - whoa, were those lights close to the brain and burning hot. I gotta go get some air and make my way to the hatch to fill some lung w/freshness. lots of good word from the kids, thank you kindly. I overhear something funny: this cat when and got a cd signed by j for a lady friend of his and I hear him tell as it hands it over, "the hippy spelled your name wrong." she then comes over to have me sign it and I ask how she spells her name and write on there right. it's "joanna" but j really didn't fuck it up - he just put "jo." bye to nez, see you next time - hopefully in ireland, huh?
get to the van and what do I find on the seat next to me? the asheton shades! great, no donate. this time. the guys are talking about the openers, _creeper lagoon_, just breaking up - what? I think the singer was drinking and there's just soggy emotions going down, they'll snap out of it tomorrow. the bottle talking, you know. long time to load out cuz we gotta work out a pack, so much stuff for so little room. we do it and then begins the wander. not too bad cuz we're following the promoter but he even does some blow-bys and he lives here! you can't imagine how intensely insane the road system is here. not so bad on the higways but in the town - whoa! we finally get to a travel lodge and we're konking here. out of this outfit and into a dry one. then down to the deck by the hatch w/a comforter that's from a cupboard-like cabinet it's stuffed in. two pillows too, like I like it (when konking on your side, it's good to have your head propped to compensate for you shoulder). mask on, awakeness off. I'm out. first gig of the tour: done.
saturday, june 2, 2001 - sheffield, england
pop at like nine bells, whoa - long konk for watt. the sun is out bright so when I want to hoof quick before things change cuz it does quick in this land. out of the travel lodge and over to the trent. I follow this river around by its edge, lots of green park and nice trees. some polo grounds or soccer fields, maybe some combination there of and an old, old church on the other side w/a big rooster for a weather vane - "der roten hahn." damn, if I ain't an idiot for not bringing the digicamera. there's like eight giant swans swimming about on the river in the grandest fashion, puffing their feathers up and bending up their necks - really beautiful. makes me think. I get to a big bridge and there's an old toll booth there w/a lady working a newstand in it. I get a bread roll w/tuna and onions in it. good. I fill it w/"crisps" to make it crunch while I chow it. there's mallard ducks swimming about too, one parallels me as I walk along the trent's edge, low muffled quacks from his throat. I know it's a he cuz his head is a dark emerald green w/a bright white neck ring. the ladies are brown to blend in w/the foliage and hide the babies. there's some long, narrow boats w/oar teams stroking up against the current. some solo kayak ones too. we can't be too far from where we played last night but man, did it take a while to get here. oh well.
eleven o'clock and I get my stuff and wait by the van. it's pretty windy, doesn't june mean spring? (the opening band's tour boss, paul, says "it's a bit blowy" - he's english). j comes out last and is worried - can't find his 'puter. a check at the front desk and the lady there has it - he left it in the lobby last night - what a watt! thank goodness for honest people. we're right by the motorway and david wants to leave nottingham "straight away" but I tell everyone about the last time I was here (many moons ago w/fIREHOSE opening for _sonic youth_ in '86), I saw the nottingham castle and ask if we can go there quick. it's only two miles to the city centre (where it is) and then sheffield, where the next gig is only thirtyseven. lots of time. george sides w/me and david relents. thank you. we go downtown and park by "the dome," a big city building w/a dome like our capitol building. the castle's nearby on a hill. j and george go w/me. all that's left of the outer walls in the gate house. there's some beautiful landscaping and a jousting field. a big manor house is now a museum and we see all kinds of stuff in there. an art gallery has all sorts of paintings and artifacts. there's military stuff too. old drums, guns, blades and uniforms. some aren't so old. there's a uniform and equipment from a serbian soldier in one display that's really creepy. the helmet has several bullet holes - both entry and exit. you can just imagine those conseqences. lots of red in the british uniforms, these cats were sure not trying to hide in the old days when they fought. there's a booth ron asheton would surely dig: lots of nazi daggers and some armbands. an armband for the ss, one for hitler youth and one for state employees! damn. the old guns from the more distant past all have these massive bayonets, some of them serrated. gruesome. time to bail from here. the downstairs has neat displays on the history of the pad, going back to the year after the normans invaded - 1067. damn. the oldest still-running pub in england is supposed to be nearby too, "the bell" but I can't remember where I saw it last. lots of history here. back outside and I take some shots of a big robin hood statue, this is the place that legend was born in. there's some plaques too on what's left of the old casements. like one of robin hood shooting his last arrow on his death bed. very symbolic, huh?
back in the van and george has found the starbucks and is happy. got that fix. j has some video tapes he bought, they're of this "supermarionation" show from the 60s for kids called "stingray," about a sub manned by troy tempest and his sonar man, phones. I remember seeing this as a kid. this van has a vcr for video tapes as well as a stereo. in fact, it's big enough to stand up in. wish it had more space for the gear though, we have to carry the hardware case in the passenger area w/us and that makes me nervous. something happens on the road and that fucker's flying all over, taking our heads of along w/it. drive safe, david.
we drive north and pass sherwood forest. quick getting into sheffield but then the wandering begins. the pad we're playing tonight is called _the leadmill_ and it's in the industrial part. sheffield used to be an old steel town. we make a wrong turn and end up by this huge, intense council housing mess - as bad as anything in the bronx back home. after many roundabouts and twisting around, we finally give up and call the promoter. seems we're only three hundred yards away but we still can't find it. like yesterday, he comes to meet us and guides us in. it's a nice pad w/a real wide stage and a great p.a. system. the folks working here are real nice too. the lady in charge, mia lets me use the 'puter up in the office to send an email. lots of chow on table, why spend any of the buy-out money they give you when you got way than enough here? even a roast chicken in a bag. george takes care of that. I have a salmon sandwich again but this time I make it myself w/salmon from a package, some swiss cheese and this really hot english mustard. aromatic hot like horseradish (maybe that's what's in it) not hot like chilies. it's good. some pears too. we do soundcheck and then I have my first crumpet in the dressing room. it's like what we call an english muffin but not cut in half and also more rubbery, more holes too. it's really good. I have some green tea to that's pretty potent. j's gotten me into tea. good on the throat too. after a bit, I go to the van to do diary. there's a third band tonight, called _di luca_ or something like that. noel calls them "shoegazer rock" but I miss both them and _creeper lagoon_ as I'm in the van, chimpin' on the 'puter. early gig, we're on at 9:45 so the club can do disco after and I get back into the dressing room like five minutes before showtime to see j playing my bass in front of the mirror. funny. he says he can't believe how high the action is or how heavy the strings are. you should feel the action on his guitars! you could almost stick your arm between the strings and the fretboard. bob teagan comes by - "hey, bob." he's gonna film tonight's show.
ok, time to play. j has a trippy set for us. we start w/the _stooges'_ "not right" and it's rock blast, right off the top. bet the kids didn't expect that! "the lung" is next and all those troubles george had last night are gone, no slips or fall-downs. his hands are hurting though, bandaids and tape on each finger and they're really puffy and ulcerated. damn. the time off really kills his hands when we first get back to playing. I feel really good tonight and shake crazy like a dervish - it's fun thundering away w/the fog! "back before you go" is next and I let loose w/the solos, oh my. dig the marshall amp too. I put on new strings to avoid what came down on me last night and they sound great. we go into "same day" and I play it so much better than last night - no clams this time. what a difference going through the song once makes, huh? first time around this tour for "mike's house" ("what else is new") but I get through that good despite not playing it since last tour. I got good focus tonight. I have great inspiration and I think that's why. I'm also thinking about some stupid things I said and want to make up for getting so carried away w/myself. no matter where I go - there I am. I have to remember that. "(just like) heaven" is next and david does a "smash-up job" on the singing. thank you, david. I almost trip on my bass case and he moves it for me. thanks again, david. we go into the peel medley and again, I do better than last night - just more confident and I'm really having fun. I can tell george is hurting, I think the blisters are popping and fluid is squirting. damn, I feel for him. he's playing great though and there's good flow. it doesn't have to re-adjust or futz w/stuff and is ready to go at the head of every tune, great. makes for some good set momentum. "waistin'" is ten times better than in nottingham and this band has found its groove. happy watt. damn, is the guitar loud. love swimming in it and I'm never that used to it 'til I'm dunked in a real live set w/it. we launch into "I'm not fine" and the intensity goes up even that much more, damn! "get me" gives us a break and I can calm down a little. I blow my first clams of the set - whoops, right on the third note too, damn. I recover though and even when I blow a couple of other tiny ones, it's ok for the first time through it after a period of some weeks. ok bass solo, even if it's little. well, not little - just the right size. good jam at the end, j hikes it up good. then a trippy switch around w/"tv eye" and "amma ring. usually it's "amma..." first but the other way around tonight. george has got sticks bouncing up and out of his hands, I think it's hard for him to hold on w/his hands the way they are. trippy to do "tv eye" w/out putting the bass down and just holding it during that end part. really good soloing by j in "amma..." sends my head into another state. then we're done. we come back w/"the wagon," the _stooge's_ "no fun" and finish w/"freak scene." I go back there w/george for the last one but I gotta watch out - there's real hot lights back there, just waiting to burn me if I fall and I stumble a couple of times. hold tight, watt. steady on those wobbly knees.
in the dressing room after the gig, we're talking about how it went and george shows me his hand wounds, whoa! damn, hope those can heal up quick. j thought the gig went pretty good though he had trouble w/the strings on the fender esquire. he thought they felt like an acoustic guitar's strings. I thought the gig was great, I really dug it and then suddenly I realize something and blurt out to j, "don't drink that bottle of orangina in the van!" I don't know why it came to me just then but it did - sure am glad cuz even though it was half full, I had to fill it w/piss when I was chimpin' in there ealier on the 'puter. what a dickhead, watt - damn. I gotta get that together and make sure I got a piss bottle w/my fucking name on it under my seat or something.
cuz of some thoughts during the gig, I want to go write another email. mia lets me upstairs and tells me about wanting to come to the u.s. - bryce canyon in particular, to find interesting rocks and observe birds. I have trouble w/the stupid windows machine ('puter) and I curse bill gates. she asks why and I say I like choice and not one guy owning everything. she says too much choice is not happening for her - how many different kinds of dish soap do you need? I reply w/how can you get innovation that way? what if there's a way to make a less polluting detergent but it's not allowed to come to market cuz of a monopoly? she tells me about a soap that in fact killed a bunch of fish in the trent river in nottingham but then says what about having two hundred pairs of shoes. well, I don't have two hundred pairs of shoes and don't want that many. I just want the option to select the shoes that fit my feet good, like these chuck taylors I got on now. maybe we're talking about two different things. whatever, the van is loaded and everyone's waiting on me. hurry up, fucking watt - get it together. mia says "the van is waiting for you, mr. microsoft." aaaaarrrgggghhhh.
good thing I hurry cuz we got at least an hour of wandering to do. j tried to take a taxi but the cabby said it was too close. ha! not close enough for us to find it and we loop almost endlessly. the directions people give you are hard for us stupid u.s. folks to follow, "follow it down and come up around" - what the fuck does that mean if you're not from here? not their fault though, ours. we should have some fucking maps. we do finally find it, a holiday inn that used to be the "royal victoria," built in 1861. the desk cats take forever to get the rooms together and I'm there in the lobby, still all soaking wet. c'mon, man! well, hate to be pushy but pneumonia is impending! I get up in the room and right into a hot bath - thank god for small mercies. they got these towel heater/dryer things and hang my soaked levis and the bottom part of my fucking stupid little white suit and get on the deck naked. fuck it, I'm konking w/just blankies. jimbo's mask gift over the eyes and then over and out.
sunday, june 3, 2001 - leeds, england
pop at seven and find a window stuffed full of sun flooding our room big time. time to hoof. I'm gonna wear my purple cowboy shirt that I got last tour leg in the texas panhandle. downstairs, we gotta breakfast that comes w/the rooms and it's pretty much a knock-out. lots and lots of stuff but I hold back some. you could, however, chow down a good twenty or twentyfive pounds easy. there's tons here. I do get some of these berries: raspberries, cranberries and currants. boy, are they good. a pear too. the lady there cooks me an egg. good thing only one - she cooks in right in front of you in about two-thirds of an inch of cooking oil. oh boy. I have a cooked tomato too, a whole tomato fried in oil. there's a crazy story in the paper: the crown prince of nepal shot and killed his whole family (the king and queen, etc.) and then turned the gun on himself. he's now braindead but has be crowned king. wow. more stuff in the paper: there's an election coming up here and it looks like the tories are running a horrible race against tony blair. the advertisements are pretty funny, much more humor than back in the u.s. w/our political stuff.
I want to find a postcard but it's a tough go on a sunday in england to find anything, almost everything is closed. down from the ho, in a parking lot, an english version of what we call a swap meet in cali is taking place. it's only eight in the morning but the place is jumping, folks selling stuff out of the back of their cars. I go down the downtown sheffield streets w/storefronts and nothing is open. there's a sandwich shop booth that is, however and the cat there directs me to the train station. different accents here than in london, more sounding like scot or irish sort of. I get to the train station and most of that is closed too but there is this automated photo both that'll take your picture and make a postcard of it. I do one - it's funny: me w/daffodil flower close-ups, all next to the to of the "big ben" clock from london. wrong town for that clock. oh well, funny shot of me w/this "fire hair" though. I'm gonna keep it 'til I'm done filming this film raymond wants to do w/me after tour. by august, I should be shorn. beard too. good. damn, there's some trippy shit and I'm kicking myself for not having my camera so I go back and get it. double damn, I forgot to charge the battery last night and there's only like twelve minutes of power left. wish I wouldn't have donated that other battery last tour. having two allows you to leap-frog the charging thing and also compensate for space-outs like the one I just did. I do get some shots though: some trippy buildings like a pub called "the big gun" and a shop where a steel technique got started that helped turn this town into an industrial town so many years ago. it's got trippy stonework, like an old man w/ram's horns, a hand flanked by elephants, arrows flanked by sea monsters and a hammer next to a gear. symbols on buildings were really important in europe in the old days. maybe cuz most folks couldn't read. that pad is a social center now. trippy how the times change things. you would not want steel smelted in your town now days but that was probably the source of wealth back then and people sacrificed their nature and health for it. there's three 'southern fried chicken' places right next to each other. damn. all have pakistani names on the signs too. maybe you just go for the shortest line, huh? oh, over here, it's "take away" and not "take out" and that's what these pads are - no tables or chairs. there's an army-navy store (like in the u.s.) and bait/tackle shops. damn, I went on the bridge over the river and it sure seemed shallow. there's a path called "five weirs walk" (I guess a weir is some kind of dam?) next to it. maybe it was different in the past. we did see fishing coming into town yesterday. these cats were fishing right near the power plant, whoa! lots of hoofing for watt when he pops at the crack of dawn and we don't leave 'til noon. twelve o'clock comes and we load up into the van. only a little more than thirty miles to leeds.
j puts the "stingray" video on and I chimp diary on the 'puter. we pull into a gas station so everyone can chow ('cept watt - why spend bones when all that chow was there at the ho for free? maybe cuz nobody else pops up that early, huh?). I wait in the van and look at the funny election ad on the billboard in the lot here. it's made out like a movie poster and says: "the tories present: economic disaster II - coming to a home, hospital, school and business near you." george is confused and thinks it's an anti-labour (that's how they spell it here) ad. that's funny. he reads it again and changes his mind. back on the road, I mean motorway and we're into leeds soon, home of where that great _who_ album was recorded when I was a kid. however, getting to the town is one thing. thinking you're going to just happen on the street you need is a whole other matter. wish we had some town maps, then I'd navigate. there must be some map service on the web that we could plug addresses into and print up a map like they got in the u.s. (mapblast, mapquest, etc.). if the venue the night before has an office w/a internet connected 'puter, we could do it easy. I enlighten david w/this concept. in the meantime, we wander around for like an hour, asking several people for directions (the worst idea, seems everyone says "follow the road about and around and over, then ask someone" - gee, thanks) before finding the pad we're playing tonight, _the cockpit_ right under one of the arches of the viaduct that the train station is next to. I mean, it's built literally right in one of the arches, sort of like that pad we played in decemeber in milano, italy called the _tunnel_. sort makes things like a quanset huts the military uses back home (corrugated metal semi-cylinder buildings). thank god the ho's only a couple blocks away, though that will cut into that treasured wander time after the gig. we can fucking walk there. we're early and the pad folks won't be here for an hour so I hoof around w/the digicamera. I get some good shots of the leeds bridge (has the town's coat of arms on it: some owls next a shiled), the tetley brewery (right next to the old "salem" church - ha!), a restaurant called "the italian job" (my ma would love that) and then in the middle of the town square, I see a bronze statue of james watt, the inventor. he perfected the steam engine to let it be used to get the whole industrial revolution going. he was from glasgow, I've seen a statue there (and in birmingham, by the way) but maybe he was here too. uncanny how his eyes are just like my pop's were. my pop's name was actually james richard watt - everyone called him dick, I never once heard someone call him james. there's three other statues too, a preacher named doctor hook w/his finger in the air (making a point, obviously), a cat named priestly w/a mortar, pestal and magnifying glass (?) and one named harrison w/a book. watt's got a compass in one hand a scroll in the other. then there's this giant statue of a knight on a horse in the middle of the square of king richard, "the black prince," hero at cercy. he's pointing and pigeons are parked on every part of him. funny. that's what statues ultimately are for, a place for pigeons to rest and shit on. so be it. maybe these are yorkshire heroes cuz this is the part of england we're in though I know he was originally a scot. almost time for soundcheck, I pass an old pub that's got the beers they serve listed outside on one of their walls. one of them is called "old toss." damn, who'd want a pint of "old toss," I wonder. hmmmm...
back to the pad and it's open now. the boss, richard, a nice man, opens up the dressing room and there's a little bit of mold going on - must leak when it rains. the trains go right over and you can hear them rumble, trippy for a cali cat who's been through earthquakes. maybe a little unnerving. I ain't running though, I look forward to tonight's gig. last time I played this town was ten years ago a the _duchess of york_ w/fIREHOSE. it was a great gig, good folks here. the marshall photographer (for the amp company) is coming tonight to get some live shots of using their equipment. j says jim marshall is now seventyeight, whoa. good amp, he built.
the folks here cook pasta for me, noel and david while j and george go to chow indian. then I go to chimp diary and parry half-thought out questions from the openers, _creeper lagoon_ and finally just overwhelm them freemason/templar trivia. seems one of them heard something about "every president being a mason" and I had to clear that myth up (only fourteen of them were - maybe). they appear like nice guys but when they start attacking my 'puter, I gotta kick back. they're saying it's no good cuz it's not made out of wood, it's not like a guitar - it's got no soul. I ask them why are they looking for a soul in a 'puter, guitar or any kind of machine? machines are only a means, not an end. and soul? don't you have to breathe that into a machine to make them live? or do you buy it when you pay for the guitar? anyway, I was using the 'puter to chimp diary - more like a typewriter or a notepad - something wrong w/that? like using a car instead of a horse and buggy. I don't see them touring in a horse in buggy. that van they're in isn't made of wood. sheesh. the singer guy, ian, wears some neat flannels though. he knows enough to wear the two-pocket kind too.
I head outside to get outside this contrariness. they're young and maybe just feel nervous about me. I come back to see j doing the set list on the 'puter, he ain't afraid to use it. damn, if we ain't a half-hour late getting on the stage - those guys started late and ran over - aaarrrgggghhhh. we take the alley out back to get to the stage - the pad is packed and man, is it steaming in here! we begin w/"all the girls" and the show's underway. fucked that noel has to mix way up high, he must be like ten feet above the deck. he probably had to keep running up and downstairs to check the mix - can't tell you how different things can sound and most folks (in fact, all) aren't where he's mixing. wish the people who design their pads would figure that out. we follow it up w/"I'm not fine," "little fury things" and "same day." man, there's some standing wave action going on cuz there's weird sounds on the stage. it sounds massively out of tune, especially in the next one, "waistin'" but I'm watching the tuner and I'm right on the money. "back before you go" is next and it seems this "full tone 2" overdrive box I'm using for the solos actually is making the sound smaller. I'll change batteries tomorrow, maybe that's it. I think it would help if these cats came down a little when I have a solo (I only got a couple) but that's like bringing the mountain to mohammed, I guess. I keep trying to light a 'gar but I'm sweating so much, they instantly become soak when I put them in my mouth and the swelter rolls off my lip and transfers to the 'gar. they're these little ones called "cafe creme." they're only good for like ten puffs - kind of a rip actually. the "I've had it"/"repulsion" couplet follows and my shirt is full-on soaked. it's thick material, a cowboy work shirt and it must weigh like ten pounds more now! feels like that, anyway. I think it's either the kick drum or floor tom mic cuz after the peel medley, j asks me to do turn down. wow, is that funny - to somehow be loud enough over that enormous guitar roar to have him say that! I think he's getting that weird low-end feedback and thinks it's the little bass. oh well, I counter-clockwise the volume control and move into mime mode. hopefully, noel's got me out front good. you put yourself in the soundman's hands every gig anyway unless the pad is tiny enough for you to power it from the stage. that's one reason I dig steve reed so much - he's a bass guitar handler, like myself. a lower volumed watt for "budge" and I'm doing the touch method cuz I sure ain't hearing or feeling it. the song feels good though. the leeds cats really are nice and there's even a weird sort of pit getting formed. "amma ring" next and then the closer for the set, "tv eye." whoa - run back out into the alley and start steaming it up out in the open air. what a drencher. come back and do the encore trio of "the wagon," "(just like) heaven" and
"freak scene." funny, I did the whole set w/the asheton shades on. must've worked cuz george played the set great. what?!
some cats in the alley talk to me about an email one of them sent me about what happened w/my white tele bass that I used w/minutemen and fIREHOSE, why isn't it on the hoot page w/the other thud staffs? well, it got stole from my apartment in pedro when I was on tour w/the _crew of the flying saucer_ (nels cline, michael preussner, vince meghrouni and myself) in the fall of '95. damn. george comes out and talks to them about the stupid stuff regarding george w. and father, both buffoons who have (and are, in the case of the younger) made a farce out of the chief exec gig. wonder how that plays in the minds of cats over here? they don't say much and george holds them captivated w/a good routine.
I go to the dressing room and get the remaining item not consumed: the three liter bottle of "orangina." the moon is almost full and trippy w/th clouds dancing in front of it. I get some great shots of it as j walks by, why's he coming back to the club? I saw him leave right after we were done. damn, no wander tonight - the ho is close enough to walk to. even david gives me shitty directions (or my fucking alzheimers won't allow me to remember them right) and I wander a block or two out of my way. I ask this cat coming out of a bar w/a mop bucket to dump out where the "malmaison" ("bad house" in french?) is and he says "sorry, mate." I turn around and it's right across the street! funny. the place is kind of what david calls "cheeky," a fancy pad. they got lamps coming off the walls that look like spermatozoa and tassles on the lobby chairs like the back of them were a fez. I can't believe how fast the tub fills - I just gotta scrub this swelter off and close the water valves just in the nick of time. george said after the gig he had a tiny bit of mota and asked my room number but of course, I'm scissored. that's ok though. after the soak (long tubs but boy, are they narrow), I'm on the deck and konking fast. so great to be out by midnight, what a blessing. thanks, england.
monday, june 4, 2001 - manchester, england
pop and find a morning full of sun so I'm out the hatch fast. we're talking seven o'clock. seems early morning is the best time for sun since I've been in england. clouds start rolling in and start darkening things later in the day. this time I hoof east to the corn exchange. I got some chores I gotta get done besides just working the eyeballs and the digicamera. this levi coat of mine is losing its stiching and I gotta find some safety pins to keep this motherfucker together 'til I can get back to pedro and have my sister melinda do a sew job. the denim will need the use of her machine. I also want to get some shots of that james watt statue w/my mug in shot w/him, some self-portrait like. the corn exchange is a big round building that's shops now and though I only see the outside (it is still the crack of dawn), it is neat. north of there is a big boulevard, vicar lane, and it's got some neat old buildings. I get some chow at this little diner, more of those tomatoes all cooked the way they do it here and beans like the heinz kind from a can w/a fried egg. they put cream in tea so it looks kind of like coffee 'til you drink it. back on the street and I walk through some neat arcades they got here, dating back like a hundred years. one's called the "county arcade" and another's the "thornton's arcade." all w/lots of glass work to let the sun in and light up the shops. you know how much sun they get here. well, this morning there's tons of it and it's righteous coming through it all - like a giant tiffany lamp shade. the thornton arcade's got trippy statuary depicting the characters from the robin hood legend ringing on a bell. damn, if friar tuck don't have a short skirt or what. he ain't that fat either. I get a coffee at one pad in there called "the french revolution." english coffee but I get it black and fuck starbucks anyway. can you believe they got a bunch of those here too? every fucking where. I know it makes george happy. turning east, I carry on and get some 'gars at a newstand shop. they're twice as big as these "cafe creme" ones by henri wintermans but burn just as fast. seems they're not real leaf like most 'gars. a backwoods last ten times longer - tastes better too. oh well. now south as I close the big loop I'm doing around the city center. back to the square w/the james watt statue. this time I get shots of me w/the statue right behind me, looking over my shoulder then head over to the train station for a leeds postcard. great! this card's got a shot of the square and you can see the watt statue though it's tiny. it's nine now and I can pursue my mission to get some safety pins and save this jacket. damn if I can find any though. I must go through I don't know how many places before I finally find a sewing store and get ten for thirtyfive pence. I sit on a wall by the corn excahange and hook together my cuff and the part that's near your waist on my right side. this should hold it 'til tour's done and I get back. look pretty trippy too w/ten safety pins. I couldn't put them on the inside cuz they'd catch on my shirt. funny looking watt. back to the ho and get the bags for the van. we're ready to bail for manchester. bye, leeds.
another short ride, maybe forty miles east by southeast. of course we stop and every one chows at rest stop fare. I guard the van and chimp diary. j brings me back a tiny pie, maybe three inches across. it's got apple filling but is mainly crust, trippy. we're playing the _hop & grape_ at the uiversity of manchester. another wander, though not too much to get to the school but then we have to ask for directions for the actual pad, in the student union. of course, we get the "follow the road around and through and then ask somebody" routine. luckily, we're right nearby. it's up on like the thrid floor (what we call the first floor, the people over here call the ground floor). bob teagan shows up to film another gig. ron asheton shows up too - all right, ron! here's here for the next five shows. good to see them. both are from michigan - ron from ann arbor and bob from detroit. I chow some sandwiches the promoter cat, neil brings in. they're trippy little things, like "mature cheddar w/pickle" (tastes like applebutter, believe it or not) and "tuna w/corn." potato chips to like "roddy sorted and "chief and onion." whoa. we get a buy-out too but I ain't spending money when I can chow this. the guitar player for _creeper lagoon_, sharky, comes into the back room and I ask him what was up w/the assault on me last night for the 'puter. he says the only the rule that's consistent for his band is hypocrisy. he says one of the guys even recorded a whole album using protools on one. hmmm.
I ask to use the 'puter in the office and I get on to do some email but the lady there is pressing me for time and keeps making me lose my train of thought. says she has to print up the paper for set times. aaarrrrggghhhh. everyone else here though is really nice and a joy to work for. this other lady's doing a crossword and needs help w/stuff like "who played marshall dillion in the _gunsmoke_ tv series?" and shit like that. one that's got me stumped though is this one: "what starts in childhood and ends up in later years as dementia?" it starts w/an 'h' too. just couldn't get it. crosswords are tough. me and j are alone in the dressing room and I ask him if his pop ever put the big pressure on him to "succeed" or do things different (like living your life). j says cuz his older bro mike did lawyering, the pressure was off him and he did music w/out the blows and browbeating (read: disapproval) I see others get from the parents - even when those same parent are very loving caring. he says his bro tried to take a year off from law school and his pop read him the riot act, drove all the way to boston to have a "talk" w/him. mike never took that year off. it's a trip how we try to win approval from our folks and how that can be even more intense if you siblings do "what is asked of them" and you might be of a "slightly artistic" bent and find being regular. not in j's case, though. maybe you just gotta make them realize that's the way you are. j said he was always into music, took classes in school and everything since he was a kid so when the _dinosaur_ record "bug" came out and he dropped out of college and it was no problem. he said his pop tripped also when they both got new cars at the same time - j's explorer cost more than his pop's so I guess that might've impressed him too. his pop was a dentist and j said he dug telling his patients about his "punk rock son." things worked out good for both of them. I was just wondering how it went down in his family. my pop on the other hand only figured out what I was doing w/my life when I started sending him postcards from the road. figured I was some sort of sailor like him. when he confronted me w/"just what the fuck is this punk rock stuff, boy?" in the 70s, it was scary though. I just told him how I truly felt and that me and d. boon were going to find a way to express ourselves and make crazy tunes. I can imagine what he thought then. twelve years later it was a different story though and he was always curious and interested to hear about my tours, like when I was a boy listening to him tell me about his tours w/the navy. a mindblow how we end up relating w/our folks, huh? gotta somehow become who we really are and not just drown in a shadow. no easy solution - makes me think really hard about it. all of us, finding our gigs in life. also, how they evolve - never static unless we become static and maybe that's not natural. what could be more naturally constant but change? hmmm...
school gigs are weird. usually toy p.a. systems and they're never promoted that well. whatever, I'm gonna play my brains out - first gig w/ron. I'm wearing that soft blue flannel I got this last spring in nyc. gonna wear my ron asheton shades the whole gig too. well, try to. the tuner I'm using is showing numbers instead of the letter of the note your trying to read so j comes over and "gets that sorted." thanks, j. we start w/"budge" and damn if j's guitar ain't the loudest fucking thing ever. whoa. kids are bumming they can't hear the singing so I take one of my monitors and face it towards them. we already got the middle two facing their way. the p.a. is just way too underpowered for the kind of unleashing is doing w/the marshall stacks. "I'm not fine" and "same day" follow and those I got backup vocals on but it's total mime. I don't really care about myself though, what my priority is what the kids are getting, they're paying out the monies to get a good show and in my mind, that's what counts. j tells them he can only control the guitar volume, not the singing. true. we go into "little fury things" and when I hit the blue box for the solo, nothing happens - no light or anything. david says he put in a new battery after soundcheck but it's out of the race. boy, I'm having pedal problems, huh? he switches the box for another one just like it but w/black knobs. that works good for "back before you go" which we play next. I blow a few clams in it though, aaarrrgghhh... get it together, watt. then w/the peel medley and man, am I out of breath when it's time for the _ruts_ part. it's so hot and sweaty and I'm out of breath. ten times around for that "when you're in a rut" part is a quite a test but I make it somehow w/out falling over. "waistin'," "the wagon" and "amma ring" close out the fog portion of tonight's show. j does an amazing solo in "amma..." but it's been shorter than the versions we've been doing last leg of the tour. he then introduces ron on and george clicks off the count for six _stooges_ songs: "down on the street," "not right," "tv eye," "real cool time," "I wanna be your dog" and "loose." ron gets confused and actually plays "loose" when j starts "...dog" off. we figure out what's up though and get it together. even though ron's all jet-lagged, he's playing great. on "tv eye," at the end on the coda part, I put down the bass and put one arm around ron's shoulder while I hold the mic w/the other hand. it's intense. especially when I can't hear shit and am hollering like a crazy man. playing between both j and ron's amps are total brain floss - getting it in both ends, like I'm being drilled. I dig it though, it's big fun. before the gig, we showed ron "freak scene" and try it for the last tune. he gets most of it but spaces on some. we'll do better tomorrow.
gig done, we go back upstairs to our room. some huge stooges fans come up to congratulate ron and john from _membrane_ says hi to j. two young folks who saw us in sheffield come w/some friends and I talk w/them a while about things, they're curious about my earlier days. very nice kids. we bail after loading up and what's this, no wander? we head directly to the ho somehow, via this street that has block after block after block of indian restaurants. you wouldn't believe it - tons of them, all next to each other and all neoned up like it's going out of style. wow, what a trip. up the stairs (I hate using elevators if I don't have to) and in the room. hot bath quick to scrub the gig sweat off and soak the soreness in my joints. damn, does this beard get gross w/all that runs out of my face. can't wait 'till the time comes to be shorn of it. no cramps tonight, great - I've built the potassium level up in my body to stave that shit off. I konk grateful.
tuesday, june 5, 2001 - glasgow, scotland
whoops, I konked w/out my mask on - what a cluck, watt. down the stairs and out the hatch. only seven, so nothing's open. we're a suburb part of manchester, just south and it's called northenden (?). lots of what they would call in new york brownstones. I hoof down the main street. sun is up and yellow though you can see the gray clouds gathering for the afternoon smother. down one street, I see a small jehova's witness church and then a few blocks later, I pass in front of big one. hmmm. there is one pad open, a newstand and I get some little 'gars. like I've said before, funky tobacco in these and they last such a short time. damn. like and idiot, I've spaced and left my camera. I go back and get it. the ho's restaurant is open but eight pounds for breakfast (about twelve bucks)? fuck that. back down the road. it's eight now and I stop in a little chow pad called "something tasty," it's like their version of a deli. they got the same breakfast I've been eaten since I've been across the water for three pounds. more like it. they give me w/it this trippy shit called black pudding. it looks like a thick piece of black salami but it's no way like that in taste. I don't know what it tastes like. one bite's enough for me. weird. I listen to the bread and milk man spiel w/the owner. he's using about a hundred times the words he needs to let him know that he doesn't have his order but he is offering a loaf a bread for a substitute. it's like he's a defense lawyer in court making a case or rather oscar wylde who "doth protest too much." god damn it, all right already. somehow, the owner just listens to this yammering motherfucker repeat himself, over and over. I wonder if I'm like that sometimes. I ain't talking about the owner either. I should think about what the fuck I'm saying and be more econo. thanks, delivery dick, for a lesson that might teach me something about myself maybe. I look on the wall and see a sign, lots of sausage here: pork sausage, pork and beef sausage, pork and leek sausage, pork and apple sausage, etc...there's a bottle on the table here: "daddy's favourite - the family sauce." no idea what that tastes like but I'm through, chow's done - time to make like buffalo chips and hit the trail. the normal bus in this land is a double decker and boy, do they blast around in these, damn! you gotta be on your toes, especially since they're driving on the wrong side of the road (or at least I'm looking the wrong way all the time). they got some funny ads on them too like "suckers are just frustrated munchers" and shit like that. pretty funny for someone from pedro.
time to bail, we gotta a hike north across hadrian's wall and into scotland - we're playing in glasgow tonight. however, we must wander first and finally david just stops in the road to get our bearings. not a smart move, cats are having to skirt us big time. I ask for the europe map and get us underway. I'm not saying I am the navigating meister but fortyseven tours has given me so opportunity to learn the art of map. over here, road numbers and directions aren't as important as heading for the right town. you want to stay on the 'm' roads cuz that's like their freeways and the 'a' roads are more secondary but you gotta know the names of the towns you're going to pass through. it's more intense on the continent. that's next week.
the view from the m6 is beautiful. wonderful dales and moors - really, really pretty. so green and those remarkable stone fences everywhere. the sheep are bigger than ours and have intense coats. they put them in w/the cows too and for some reason, both kinds of animals like laying down much more than the ones we got in the u.s. I have to say that the van in pretty stuffed w/ron aboard. it was packed before he came so you can imagine. j, george and noel all have what we call "whales" - big luggage bags that roll and have retractable handles and these take up a lot of room. me and david have duffle bags and these are much more pliable. j puts a "stingray" tape in the machine and it's "supermarionation" time. I take lots of shots out the window w/the digicamera. so green hills. not much farming, all sheep and cows. you can see the rocks poking out of the ground, not good for plowing. some big modern windmills for electricty when we pass into scotland. that's a good way to generate power. we got some in cali but we need more. I see a castle keep on a hill, all by itself. nearby is a modern soccer stadium. trippy. both monuments to their own times. we pull over at a rest stop and while those guys go feed on the motorway fare, I take some shots w/digicamera of a duck couple. kind of like mallards but bigger and no white ring on the neck of the guy one, who's got a dark green head. the lady is roosting on the grass while he guards her. as I take some snaps, he moves towards me to guard her, letting me know to keep back w/some quack-quack-quack-quack mutterings under his breath. he lets me get pretty close though, maybe four feet away. then over a little hill, here come a pair w/their little ducklings, three of them. their feathers are all funny, like fur and they're clumsily poking around - a little family. they let me get really close too. I get more shots. a military jet comes roaring over us, its sound much behind its actual sighting. george and ron try to guess what kind it is. sure was loud whatever it was. j says it be good to have the sound in his tune "freak scene." funny, he finally finds out that I'm pivoting between an 'f' and an 'e' when I should be just hitting an 'e'. all these months and he's never noticed. I guess I'm the same w/my guys in my bands. on the recording (where I learned it), it's very percussive and he hits the 'e' so hard I was hearing it go sharp. oh well, never stop learning. that's a good thing, I think.
we get to galsgow and go to the ho first since you can't make noise at the place we're playing, _king tut's_ 'til six. it's in the bottom of an apartment building, trippy. I hoof around and find a postcard of some haggis before it's cooked. the card's in the shape of it even. haggis is a scottish delicacy where they take a sheep's heart and stuff it in it's stomach w/oats and stuff and then cook that up. there's more to it than that but I've never chowed it. yet. I will. I do get a baked potato w/tuna that's got corn in it. trippy but real good. the big road w/everything on it is callled sauchiehalll street and I explore that. the ho is right by the charing cross train stop and I go back to wait for a call from david. the club is in walking distance and they ring me up when it's time.
very nice people at the pad and the cat in charge there, david, tells me he's from greenock, just west of glasgow. it's the town james watt, the inventor, is from and that there's a school there called james watt college. damn, wish I could see it. back stage they got sandwiches that are coleslaw in between two slices of french bread. trippy but good. the _creeper lagoon_ people lost their singer last night. they said he took pills and got rolled. he's trying to fly in on time to make the gig. oh brother. I don't know how much longer for this band. time for chow and I have orange and carrot soup - I really dig it, first time for me. tastes like there's orange peel in it. the creeper singer, ian, makes it just in time and they do their set. the gig is sold out and the place packed. I'm wearing the loudest plaid I got on a flannel - I love playing here in the land of my pop's pop's people. sure is swety in here. the gig's set to start, I'm wearing the yellow asheton shades in respect to ron. he told me last night that he's wearing the same lenses from those on the first _stooges_ album but it's the third set of frames. whoa, that's a trip. we start the gig w/"the lung." great, I love this song. "same day" next and damn if I can hear a single word I'm singing. j is really, really loud. the power here is bonus big time, lighting up the red end of his fuhrman voltage meeter. he's got lots of juiced and letting the speaekers have it. after that is "budge" and I break and 'e' string. damn. I change it quick while j goes into "severed lips" and join him for the second time around. the scot people are nice and give me applause, right in the middle of the tune - much respect to them. one of them had yelled "sophisticated bitch, mike watt." george didn't realize that ed fROMOHIO had us cover that song when me and george hurley was w/him. back to the gig: "waistin'," "back before you go," and the peel medley. we do "repulsion" w/out "I've had it" tonight cuz j says we're doing enough covers tonight so no _black flag_. "the wagon" next and I break an 'a' string. damn. just broke this one a couple of days ago so the one that just went ain't that old - what's up? am I going off cuz it's glasgow? j and george jam on "amma ring" 'til I get the string replaced. I get it toghether and we ride the tune out - some great guitar out of j. he digs playing that tune, I know I do. he introduces ron and he joins us on stage. asheton's a scot name too. we do the stooges "down on the street," "not right" and "tv eye" - wow, things are smoking here at king tut's tonight! such a joy to deliver it also to these scottish cats - they really give back all you give them. no reserved demeanors out of them. again on "tv eye," I sing the end part w/my arm around ron. it's great being on stage w/him, working these timeless wailers on full throttle. so sweaty, it's as hot as a furnace in here. we're off and on the side door into the alley for some air. the we come back w/"I wanna be your dog," "loose" and "no fun." wish I could hear one single word I'm singing but hey, that's how the chips fall. still a blast though to go off on this stuff. we do j's "freak scene" and we're done. whoa. such warm feeling from the cats talking w/me, much respect to them. I even go get some whisky, just two swallows - the first for the tour. this gig has made me happy.
I walk back to the ho alone, just letting my mind float w/the ecstatic feeling of being in wonder. wonder? yeah, wondering how everything fits, how it makes sense. I look across glasgow and see all the windows w/lights on, the apartments w/lives in them - all separate, all connected, somehow. the crazy man visiting from the other land to work bass for their town. a connected part that seperated when his people left but finding here once again and looking for his place, not knowing how it came to be or why - welI, can make guesses but the totality and complications overwhelm me. I want to somehow contain it in a metaphor or an epiphany. I give up though, knowing I'd sell it short. how can I connect w/anyone, let alone a whole town, a whole land, a whole people. well, folks are folks, aren't they? the one most present to you in the moment is the one shaking your hand but what's your mind on, watt? is it the actual or is it the contemplated. is it the mind paintings in that cluttere mind gallery upstairs? what plays are your kooky alter egos acting out up there? what inspires you to write such scripts? some cat w/a box of pizza passes me by and then stops and turns. he offers me a slice from it. wow. thank you. I go up to the corner to go in the twentyfour hour store. I get an apple, a banana and some 'gars (longer ones but the same shitty tobacco). some old guy outside asks for a smoke and I think of that cat giving me pizza and give the old man a 'gar. across the street is all kinds of people in line for a disco. not enough wonder there for me. all in line to belong. some ways the same crazy mission I'm on. just a little more crowded. maybe it's not how the world makes sense to me but how I make sense to it? sure wouldn't want to ask each person in line and drive them up the wall. I think this urge to find some understanding is more important than actually finding anything that might be called an answer. how embarrassing to find the words to describe any of these thoughts to anyone anyhow. stay little in the equation, watt - don't get so fucking self-important - you'll lose the wonder. back to the ho and a hot bath. real hot. melt the corporal form. let the mind float loose.
noel comes in. he's great to share a room w/cuz hey, we're the two oldest cats on the tour and a lot of what we're thinking doesn't have to be verbalized. we share a good connect. on the deck w/watt and mask down. konk comes swift but the diary for tonight doesn't end here. maybe an hour later, in a dead-konk, I hear the loudest high pitch squeal and think for sure it's a dream. I pop though to make sure and nope, it ain't a dream. the ho's fire alarm has gone off and noel's checking the smoke alarm. he thinks he's set it off. he calls down at the desk and nope, it's not our room. we gotta get out of the building. quick, get dressed (I forgot to bring my clothes bag up and was sleeping naked), grab the 'puter and camera bag and head quick down the stairs. twelve stories! we see george coming up w/a look like he's seen a ghost. what's that about? why's he going up? everyone from the ho is outside. george comes outside. the firemen go in and then come out w/the most pissed-off looks on their faces. george said he set the alarm off puffing hay-sh! at least no fire. damn, I still got my mask on - I just pulled it above my eyes. silly watt. all clear and back up. the elevators are jammed w/folks so I just say fuck it and do the twelve floors up via the stairs. no puffing though, good shape for you, even w/the poppin' knees. those walks in the morning and the gigs at night are keeping me fit, even w/out the pedalling. missing that bike though. not enough to be out like a light in a matter of seconds though.
wednesday, june 6, 2001 - london, england
pop, smoke one of those 'gars (like five puffs and it's gone - what kind of 'bacci is in them?) and make tetley tea. all these ho's here have electric water boilers (a plastic pitcher w/an electric heating element coming through the side at the bottom), and they give you some free tea bags. I make for the street w/the digicamera. sun beaming blazes, it's been this way every morning for the week I've been over here. brilliant sun in the morning and then gray blanket cover clouds starting about noon, obscuring all the blue and its sunball yellow that reigned high just before. I get some chow at a pad called "brogan's brunch," a scottish full breakfast for two and a half pounds. I eat my first potato scone (came w/it). then, off to hoof and click. I get shots of all kinds of storefronts and things glasgow: the royal highland fusiliers (lots of toy soldiers in the window and a plate that says "touch not the cat bot a glove"). there's some place "los borrachos" ("drunks" in espanol). great graffiti on the wall that has a stencil spray-painted monkey wearing a sign that says "laugh now but one day we'll be in charge." a pad called "geoffrey kiltmaker, sales and hire" w/every plaid piece of clothes you can imagine. there's a big department store called "watt brothers," all right - I got some brothers here! the central train station is fantastic, the roof's all skylights to make use of natural light, really neat inside and I watch the trains come and go on one of the platforms. great wordwork on the shops inside and no square corners, everything rounded. go back outside and rain starts coming down, damn! it was so blue just a little bit ago! head back to the ho, quick. good hunting though - over a hundred shots clicked w/the digicamera. wrote brother matt a card too.
then the rain stops. todays the biggest drive yet - over four hundred miles to london and tonight's the first day w/out a gig for the tour. j's doing the trip by air so george sits next to me in the back and ron can get a whole row to himself. again, the beautiful countryside of the north as we head south. we stop where ron got a key chain w/the "ashton" coat of arms on it (close but no e in it, like his name) but there's no watt, only watson. jive. oh well. there's an older lady there who says to me, "I'll trade me grays for your curls." I tell her mine are grays too, just w/color on them. south through carlisle, and we stop again - david's tired so noel takes over. noel's been living in new york city for years so he hasn't driven in about that much and to compound that, the rain comes down again and it's foggy. noel took the test for his driver's license expressly for this tour but this will be the real test. on the other side of the road too! lots of road buttons getting run over and this is one fucking long van so it's prone to twisting in the wind anyway. we're supporting him big time. first time I've ever seen george put his seat belt on though. how's he gonna get it if don't do it, that's my point. it's pretty much white-knuckle for a while but things get better. south though carlisle, through manchester, through birmingham - from whence we came. david takes the wheel again. thank you, noel - good job. and we come into london through the west, the same way we came from heathrow (the airport) a week ago. we go to the same ho too, the rydges at gloucster and cromwell roads. I get a little pizza, "the neptune" w/anchovies and olives. good crust, like in italy. I dig it. back to the ho and j calls me from kevin shields' to ask us over to shoot this music scene that's gonna be used in a movie.
we take the tube (subway) to king's cross/st. pancras station and have to look for this tiny street called stanley passage. me and david snap at each other - what's that about? I say I'm sorry, don't know why I was a dick to him right there. it happened once before when we were in leeds and he was laughing at me for popping awake so early in the morning. I told him "I play hard so don't give me shit or I'll break my leg off in your ass" but then apologize right away, saying I wanted not to be mean (j says "it's hard"). same thing here, he says he sorry cuz he got only a little sleep but I have to tell him I didn't have an excuse and was just being a dick - sometimes I fuckup like that. did it to george a few times last tour too. I find a map on the wall and get us to these to the road and there's these old apartments. someone calls down from the roof and tells up to come up. j's there w/kevin and a few of the cats from _primal scream_, who've done this trippy cover of lemmy's song "motorhead." it's starting to sprinkle. econo set: some projectors w/film loops showing one some screens and smoke stacks. never been on a london roof before. it's a trip seeing the town from here. lots of little clay chimneys all around. the lady pam, who's pad that's right below says these apartments (which are from the victorian era - you can tell they were built before electricity cuz all the outlets and switches are wired through conduit on the surface of the walls) are being torn down and the bricks taken across the river (thames) and re-assembled and will be sold to yuppies for big bucks. see, this area's gotta get cleared cuz they're building a tunnel that'll go to france from here. they ask us to be part of the "crowd" and dance while a tape of the song plays. I pogo. the rain is really starting to come down and there's a lot of wind too - might be kind of dangerous for some of us. they break out a big florescent tube but this is really rolling the dice w/the wet - the projectors are getting soggy too so things have to end. the director said he got what he needed so good. all of our team bails back for the ho except for me and george. we want to stay w/kevin and talk. nice cats here. the band is great and so are the folks who were crowd extras along w/us. we get to talking about music and they want to know about virginia, stuff like that. one guy has a band called _ten pole_ and he says musicians don't get the respect in england like the do in the u.s. hmmm... guess it's relative of your perspective. he tells me that in portsmouth, where we're playing tomorrow (and also the name of the town in virginia where I was born) is the boat admiral nelson was in at trafalgar, a big navy battle where the english beat the french. he did this famous maneuver, "crossing the t," that had his line of boats go perpendicular to the end of the french line. that allowed the french to fire using only one boat while all the english boats could train their fire on a single boat and take the french out, one at a time. his boat was called the h.m.s. victory. not that much into the war shit but dig knowing it's a port cuz I live in a port (pedro) too. there's a bottle of absinthe on thable and I have a coffee cup full. green, licorice-tasting stuff. second time I've had it. the first was the first time in england last time I was here w/the fog in london last december. I drink some jameson too. kevin gives me some mota but it's w/tobacco and I get a big headrush. not used to that kind of smoke in the lung - cuz you hold 'gar smoke only in the mouth. time to go and us three take a cab back to kensington and the ho. kevin's friend charlotte comes too. we go to me and noel's room and are talking but I am worn w/wearyness. I mean, really worn and thumped. I can't even remember the konk that takes me in a headlock and my shit is out...
read week 2 of the tour diary
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