j mascis and the fog
j mascis - guitar, singing
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
(left to right)
david scheid - tour boss/helper man
noel ford - soundman
ron asheton - guest guitarist for english gigs (w/ charlotte)
(left to right)
russell warby - the man outside the van
thursday, june 7, 2001 - portsmouth, england
pop, head downstairs to chow room and fill my bowl w/pears, cherries and then yogurt on top. this is good to put down the chute in the morning. bright and blue out, hoof down to do some morning 'puter - wish I could use the account I got at home so I could put the first page of the tour diary up. so tough to do that from over here. there's a number I can use in london for england but they got different phone jacks. there's lots of numbers for all over belgium and holland (they invested big time in the internet early) so I'll try there. I then head north up gloucester road to check out the kensington gardens. a wonderful park, they've got acres of green and tons of birds. squirrels come right up on the fencetop w/their hands (paws) out. very domesticated, the birds too - the geese, swans, ducks, pigeons stroll right up and are very friendly. damn, am I an idiot for forgetting my camera. shit, fucking doof. w/out that to occupy me, my mind is in engaged in full reflect and confess mode, aaarrrggghhhh - the recriminations begin. I'm so intent these days w/being honest w/myself, not buying a rationalization or a using a mental bandaid to cover for shit I should take responsibility and buckle up. well, that means a huge trial wear one side of my head trots out the evidence and just starts pounding on the other side. acquiesce, comply and submit to the realities I have to accept. the mental gavel, lowering the pulley on my self-made nakedness here, prone on the mental deck I've cleared for this ordeal. in a way, I do feel it gives me a cleaning, my brain strained through the colander of ethic I'm trying to come to grips w/and deal. tour brings these things out easy in me. I get these feelings in pedro too but on tour, well - good long walks are a good antidote. deep down, I know this is shit that has to be dealt w/and I don't think verbalizing it w/others is what's needed. a good bout of self-assault in the head helps me wrestle these things out and does, in the end, get some serenity and that's coming from a humbling. helps me too from being such a snap-case at times. it hurts to go through though, even w/this beautiful nature all about - righteous flowers and trees. soft grass too for soft padding w/my feet, nothing like sidewalk to put the pain in the knees.
so, no pics but a good scrub on the brain matter. time for us to make the hike to portsmouth on the southern coast, the town for tonight's gig. maybe it's the town which bears the original name of the place I was born in the u.s. for sure, it's kind of like where I live now, in pedro cuz it's a port for boats too. actually, the town is on an island but you can't tell cuz the bridge isn't noticeable driving in the van. the drive is only about an hour and half and we're blessed too to have kevin shields make the trip w/us. he's very cool people and great to have around. we're playing a pad called the _wedgewood rooms_ and we find it w/no wander at all, lucky fog folks today. unfortunately, the part of town we're in is miles from the docks and where the hms victory (nelson's boat at trafalgar) is so watt misses out seeikng that. damn. I love checking out boats and the waters that bear them, the docks that bind them. oh well. I do get to do a great interview w/a young cat who's very knowledgeable about my history w/music and he asks me great stuff. later, a friend of his would tell me he was scared to meet and spiel w/me cuz he thought I would be intimidating (what?!) but found that not at all the case. I like cats who can help me w/a good spiel - always. I've been very fortunate not to have fuckheads, full of 'tude, try to give me shit when it's time to spiel. makes them interesting and I always end up learning something myself.
this is the last gig for _creeper lagoon_ w/us tonight. they're only a trio for the gig cuz their guitarist, sharky, is in the hosp w/a throat infection - he's got a giant pus-ball sack hanging in there and it has to be lanced and purged. whoa. the three remaining cats are kind of scared to go on but they do fine, the crowd gives them much support too. I should know about this, the imagined fears can be conquered w/the actuality of what's real. it's the mind and its twisted-upness w/exploring and dwelling on crazy thoughts and insecurities. they're all relieved and happy when they come off stage. good luck guys. they were talking about breaking up after this. maybe it's just the heaviness of touring and they'll change their minds.
in our dressing room, it's all talk about drugs, don't know how this subject got started but it's all anyone can talk about: this rip-off that happened in nyc where a friend of my buddys' jimbo and juan was killed, stuff in everyone's past, stuff that's been read about and seen on tv, etc... kind of boring and trite for me. I can tell it is w/j too. I'm trying to chimp in my fucking 'puter and do diary - wish I had my boat (van) to escape in a get some alone time w/my thoughts as I "compose" my journal thoughts but w/this rental there's only one set of keys and david's the keeper of those which makes good sense. can't have a donate going w/those.
I'm relieved when gig time comes. we start the set w/"budge" and then "waistin'" - pretty good but in "same day," which is next, what the hell is up w/the tuning on j's guitar? damn is it way out. whew, what a nightmare to get through that tune. "little fury things" is better but when we then do "back before you go," a string of j's is caught under the capo or something and it's more sourass suffering. aaarrrgggghhh. after that we do one we haven't done in a while, "all the girls," I dig this one much - good dynamics and I like the theme. a very positive j tune. then "the wagon," which is always a crowd favorite, can't go wrong here if just play it right and that we do. george is having a good gig and playing very much the man w/the stick in his hand, he's doing great. the end of the 'just fog' stuff w/"amma ring" and j smokes an inspired solo from his fender, wow. we've been playing shorter versions of the jam part in this one this leg but that doesn't mean they're weaker, just more concise. then j introduces ron. we thunder out "down on the street" and I feel on the back of the trailer end of a big hook and ladder firetruck w/the siren going. wow. hard to find the words to express that feeling. it's not like they're holding my hand but I definitely feel being taken for a ride. the portsmouth crowd digs it when I tell them I was born in the 'other portsmouth' across the water. very kindly of them. "not right" is next and it's all crazy but good. I am hearing some funky tuning stuff again. this time it's w/ron. we taught him "(just like) heaven" at soundcheck and we try that next. the tuning is so bad, j has to unplug him (he puts ron in the fender tonemaster he uses as a monitor for himself) and then instead of finishing w/"tv eye," j has us come off the stage. the tuning situation was that bad. so bad, I could really feel my coolerio pucker w/the sourness. the crowd is very kind and wants more so we come out for "I wanna be your dog" and then "loose." damn, the out-of-tune gremlins are still in the house and I can't tell what the fuck key to put the spiel in, even if I could hear it. ron's amp is on my side of the stage and it's obliterating any sense of what I can try and recognize. it's braille time now and I'm counting parts to keep it together. "tv eye" is a total mess but I still put my arm around ron to sing the coda. I want folks to know how much of an honor it is for me to play w/him up here, and also how generous it is for j to share so much w/all of us. we come back for one more encore, "freak scene" - well, we were supposed to go right into but I ran off the stage after "tv eye," thinking we were finished. bozo watt. everyone's waiting as I come back up there, I really did need some water though cuz I'm thoroughly soaked w/sweat. ron just hands david his guitar which is kind of crazy cuz david's got so much going on already. I know ron wishes he would've brought that stompbox tuner he's got back at home in michigan. can't do us any good here though and I ask ron over the mic to use one of j's jazzmasters. I say "it works for him, ron." j likes high action though (lets him bend the notes easier) and ron's told me it hard on his hands. he goes for it though and suddenly the band sounds so much better w/all of us in the same universe the key of the song is supposed to be in. whew, we're through. that was a tough gig in a way.
george packs up his drums tonight himself and does a superfast job, maybe fifteen minutes! we're driving back to london and we want to get out quick. I pack my stuff up right away too, like I do every night. I brought another shirt but I sweat that one up too. my jeans are soaked to the knees. aaaarrrrgghhh. this really situation really raises it's ugly head on the van ride where it's kind of cold but for me who's wet and clammy, it's unbearable. j puts on the "stingray" tape on the van television but that can't even distract me from the frigidness I'm feeling on my bones. it's miserable beyond belief, I'm dying in here. we stop to get gas and I get some plums at the station, little ones from spain. they sure are good. I trade places w/noel too. usually I'm in the back row w/j but the heatear ain't getting anything to there so I'm now in the front w/the heater blazing. I feel as though I'm catching my fucking death. none of these guy's fault - since we were coming back to london, all the whales (clothes bags) were left at the ho and I only brought a dry shirt. I should've brought a complete outfit change, stupid fucking watt. I can't tell you how relieved I am when we get to the rydges and I can run like a nut up those stairs and plop myself in that tub. thank god for tender mercies. my skin is goosedbumped up like a plucked chicken and I got a chill to the bone. the way these tubs are, the got a faucet for both cold and hot so I just put my feet under the hot one and let them thaw there. brrr, was that a test of my inner life force, I really did feel it waver and felt I was going down. it was a nightmare. all dry outfit on, I konk fully in my clothes under a few blankies. better safe than sorry. I have dreams of snowmen giving me bearhugs and piledriver wrestling moves. some half and full nelsons too. damn.
friday, june 8, 2001 - london, england
I must've got back in the tub in the middle of the night in my sleep cuz I wake up in the fucking tub. how long had I been in there? I'm floating w/my face looking up at the ceiling wondering what the fuck happened. the water's not totally cold either so I must've been adding hot bursts. I have no recollection of this at all. maybe this is how I was fighting the snowmen in my dreams and defending myself. I melted the pricks. very dangerous though, I could've drown big time. insane watt, sleepsoaker (as in sleepwalker). my body is shrivled up very much prune-like. whoa. I dry and dry and dry w/the towel but it seems my skin is permeated w/water. I feel so soggy, gotta hoof this off. bring the digicamera too so I can get some good kensington gardens shots. I'm gonna walk that whole park. and hoof it I do. right after pears and cherries. mmm...
I start where gloucester road ends on the south side of the park and head east. what a performance from the squirrels and pigeons. sometimes three squirrels at a time running all around me, up on the fence, between my legs. nervous as hell but still not afraid to keep away. they must be used to folks chowing them. the pigeons got the feathers puffed and are cooing up a symphony for me. sorry you folks, just snaps - no snacks. cute acts though. the flowers are beautiful too, lots of colors and take shots of them also. purples, lavenders, reds, oranges, pinks, whites and all kind of shades of green - many, many eye gifts for watt. some little red-breast birds too, I don't think they're robins or orioles though. little black birds - some w/orange beaks, some w/yellow - I wish I knew what they were called. funny how the birds and squirrels run around each other and get along fine. whoa, there's some yucca plants too, cactus in england? then by the prince albert shrine. the statue of him is not so impressive but the supporting cast is intense. there's relief sculptures all about the lower part of the piece, representing artists, thinkers, etc. there's also four sculptures at the corners representing the four corners of the earth. there's a camel w/arabs and black men (africa), an elephant w/oriental eyed folks (asia), one's got a bull w/ladies (europe) and there's one w/a buffalo plus cowboys and indians (america). it's a lady who's riding each one. then there's four sculptures representing agriculture, manufactures (the actual word on the base, engineering and commerce. the queen for here at the time was victoria and I guess england's empire was at its zenith so maybe they figured they had it all figured out and under control. no abstracts here, everything in symmetry and in what I gather is perfect balance in someone's mind. I find it kind of claustrophobic and just a tiny bit pretentious. what do I know? obviously a huge to greek and roman tradition w/a sense of a cathedral-like tribute. bizarre. there's a waterbody called the serpentine goes east to hyde park but I'm saving that trek for tomorrow morning's walk. I turn north and go to what's called the 'italian fountains' to check that out. on the way I see a statue of peter pan, "the boy who would not grow up." looks like he's wearing a dress. sculpted into his base there's fairies and rabbits playing about. the fountains have a statue of jenner, the country doctor who found the vaccine for small pox, which maimed and killed lots of children before his discovery. the fountains do look italian and are pretty. lots of mallard ducks about: green heads, brown heads, blue heads sort of even. this is a big park and there's lots of space between these things I'm describing. there's a obelisk (like the washington monument) remember speke, the first european to find lake victoria, the source of the nile. then there's the 'round pond' where lots of swans are. I get tons of shots before heading back to the ho. on the way, I eat a sandwich made w/pork sausage and leek. I also read the paper. yesterday was election day here and tony blair (labor party) won out. lowest voter turnout since world war one though.
david calls me and asks to bring the merch (shirts) so I guess I have to change plans and take a cab instead of the tube (subway). there's two bags and each one of these motherfuckers weighs like sixty or seventy pounds, holy moses! it's ok though cuz david's got so much going on and I'm glad to help. also, his hard drive in his brand new ibook died last night. rotten misfortune. damn. these english cabs are neat and have tons of room, no need to put the shirts in the 'boot' (trunk). we're playing in the west part of town, not too far from the ho at a pad called _shepherd's bush empire_ and it's an old theatre w/a really high roof. at least three balcony levels above the floor but they're closed for this show. very nice pad. george comes w/kevin's sister annmarie. george has had a bad knee all tour and he made it even more in pain by walking here to the venue. it's got him a little cranky and he snaps at when I ask him to give me a little silence to check out this noise on my bass speaker cab. I think the voice coil on what of the drivers is rubbing. he also gets a little upset when I ask to move the amps around a little. ron's got a full stack of marshall tonight and I'd rather have that next to the drums (ron plays in the middle, in front of george and inbetween me and j) so it's not blowing right across the mic. I don't think he understands what it's like to have guitars blasting your head off when you're trying to do a good job w/the words. I love ron's playing and j's too but damn, we're in front of a lot of people tonight and it would be great if it wasn't total mime. they got a good system here and the monitor lady, jo, is really willing to make it work for me. finally, in the dressing room he wants to know the set list right away before I can get it copied for jo. she's gonna bring j's singing mic down w/I got spiel and he's just on his guitar. you would not believe what it's like when he stops singing and moves off the mic - I get hit w/a full-frontal assault monitor-wise of guitar blast. these are just little things though and I know george doesn't mean it. pain can put you in uptight moods. come gig time, he'll be all calmed down and we'll be able to work good as a team. this gig is really important to me, I want us to be our best. I know he does too.
kevin comes by again. great. I dig him at the shows and just hanging around in general, he's a good cat. j has an idea to have that _primal scream_ singer, bobby, who I met the other night at that filming thing do "no fun." sounds good. I go find some real 'gars at a little store. they're called "export" and are swiss made. not as good as a macanudo or somethng like that but still not shredded toilet paper dyed brown ones like these "cafe cremes." five for eight pounds though - damn. they go to chow while ron does a spiel w/a writer from the _mojo_ music magazine. I'm very nervous and do diary on the 'puter to take my mind elsewhere and calm my shit. some people are coming to the show and might want to talk to me beforehand and this has me a little shook. I really want to play good for them - j, ron and george too - everyone. this is one pants-shitter of a gig. I have my favorite flannel of the ones I brought on tour on for luck. no chow for watt except for some bacon-flavored potato chips (weird) and rhubarb tea (weird but good). the other guys go get indian chow. they've must've eaten that almost every night on this tour. it is good stuff, my gut is just too knot-tangled to handle it. also, it slows me down during gig time. I gotta usually chow way before downbeat and then something really light and easy on me. there dressing room is split into two parts and I have the smaller section w/the hatch closed. I'm just so glad these english gigs are usually at nine thirty. michael mulcahy opened and mark eitzel went on after him, both kind of mellow acts w/no live drummers. that's ok, much better than a dinosaur clone band, I think. bob teagan's here to film again, great. let me tell you, you can be playing anywhere in the world and there's always a chance bob teagan will show up, ain't that a trip? richard maher is here too, the cat who made pedal effects for jimi hendrix. none of the folks I put on the guest list have shown though. maybe it's better, cuz man, am I trembling. there's no bass strings left either - we couldn't find the ones j is sure we brought w/us but kevin asked the lady who does bass w/him in _my bloody valentine_, debbie, to get a couple of packs. thanks, debbie.
it's time, thank god. the stage here is super-wide. we're right up on the lip. usually, you can't see the crowd much - it looks all black cuz there's such bright lights in your face but the way the lights are here, the whole pad is lit up and I can see everyone. very scary, I can't look out much. damn. I forget to take my jacket off too and just watch j and george for cues. at soundcheck I took the strings off and found wear ridges on the 'e' and 'a' string saddles. these act like saw blades and help break strings, no wonder I was popping them. I filed them down very gently to get them smooth and put on new strings. thing is, they slip a little even w/some big-time stretching and w/my nervousness, I have a little trouble getting the tuning together. damn, if we just can get into it, things'll work better for me. it's just the agonizing over what's going to happen that really wears on me. ok, time to hit it - we start w/"budge." listening to the two opening acts, I detected a lot of low-end rumble, this room accentuate the bottom, probably to help w/acoustic stuff like symphony music or actors' voices in the old days. it can bogart w/our type of electrical onslaught so I taper down the low frequencies on the bass amp's eq. time to put the 'gar I came out on stage smoking on the amp cuz I gotta help j sing "I'm not fine" (that's the actual lyric besides also being the title), which is next and this gonna be tough. three gigs w/full-on _stooges'_ tunes w/no monitors, belting my fucking brains out has left me a little challenged w/the pipes. I ain't a shirker though and give it my all. the monitor lady, jo, gets it together good for me though and at least I can hear what's coming out of my fucking word-hole. a surprisingy thing is that I'm blowing no clams. it seems like I'm on the edge though, just hanging on. there's that weird sensation of "man, if I use my mind about this, I know I'm gonna just blow it." then I stop to think of what a friend told me: "when things are scary, always think how time can't stand still so even the scariest of times will eventually pass and force you into a new time....it could be a scarier time that you're forced into but at least you don't know that at the time you're thinking about it." that's so goddamn right on the money. also on a biological level, the information I believe essential to playing is actually contained in the muscles you're using and not really stored up in the head. that's more for composing and contemplating, not so much in the actual execution. I remember what my pop used to tell me: "don't think, boy - do." well, I'm saying that to myself now, just hang on watt and try to keep it together. damn, the folks' faces are so clear and up front. they look happy though, a good swell of spirit from them. it's just too hairy to spend more than a moment to look over, I keep my focus on j and george. hope the low end ain't bogarting. doesn't sound like it is from here. I realize I still have my levi coat on and take it off. can't let that thing get too soak cuz washing it is real tough on the stiching, it's from the 70s and a bit frail. third tune is "same day" and I go wild. I just want light this place up so bad. I'm lucky it's going good for me somehow. "little fury things" and "back before you go" follow, two of the tunes we do that have bass solos. damn if I can ever hear them, I just trust that noel will get them out there where it counts. j continues his policy of introducing the peel medley as "some songs we did for john peel." I think it's great when j talks w/the crowd cuz they're always so curious to what he's like. it lets some of his humanism show, you'd be surprised how many thinks he's an alien or something. "waistin'" is next so I can do more 'gar. roll up these sleeves too, sure am sweaty. 'gar back up on the amp, we really go off on "the wagon," very much on the uptempo and then close the fog part of the gig w/an intense "amma ring."
then we bring on ron. folks are glad to see him and he gives a wave to the crowd. I put my ron yellow asheton shades back on (I did the first couple of tunes w/them on then sweat blurred everything) and george clicks off "down on the street." wow, so much easier to do the spiel when you can actually here what's up. thanks, jo. ron in the middle and us all around him - j to his left, george behind, me to his right and the crowd in front. all of us celebrating the man. "I wanna be your dog" is next, I put the pick down on top of the amp, switch to my fingers and put everything I got out. intense how the kids reciprocate, much respect to them. ron says the stooges gigs always ended w/"tv eye" and we do likewise. I grab him around the shoulder at the end after putting the little bass down on the stage deck a sing those last lines on my toes. 'pert near a cardiac and I run off stage and up the stairs to the dressing room for water. I'm breathing very, very hard. whoa. hope those folks who were supposed to come talk w/me at least saw that gig. even if they didn't though, I'm still glad I played good for my stagebros and the cats in the crowd. one of my best gigs ever w/j, I can kind of say to myself w/out feeling like a complete cornball. all these months of playing w/him have paid off w/this one gig. maybe it was luck. I did kind fall out a little w/the time on "tv eye" but maybe george was helping w/that clam blow along w/me. other than that I had shit pretty much together and still had a lot of wildness going on so it wasn't like I was being careful or holding back w/anything. I like that: throwing yourself into it like a dervish and still being in the moment and playing good w/your cats. for me, playing isn't enough, there has to be some sort of a release. I want to make to make the moment somehow snap and then let it breathe, something like a sensation travelling up the spinal cord and then settling into the brain or lower even, like the heart where it's felt much more that it's thought. it should inspire thoughts maybe and not be the actual thought. that's the only way to keep things and within grasp of the individual creating w/it themselves. a spark that gets their mindfires lit somehow. indistinctly perceived, loose enough to freely associate the most crazy shit w/what the idiot on stage (in my case, me) is trying to cook up. all mixed up, all intangible. like my hair when it's like this, all wild w/a life of its own.
david comes running upstairs and says, "watt, they're waiting on you." I'm getting carried away myself. I also am panting like a motherfucking pufferbilly. I grab the two liter bottle of water I've been gulping and run downstairs to the stage. ron starts off "real cool time" and we tear into that, making it quite a boom-blam-jam. that and the duely leads from the guitars, j and ron - whoa. so intense! I finally holler "real cool time tonight!" and we stomp it right on the "night" hit. bobby comes out to do "no fun" and he's doing a great job. then near at the end, when we start playing faster and faster, some get spits up at bobby and things go crazy. I see the mic stand coming down and down again, like three times on the kid. it has a heavy, round pedestal so the thing is like a fucking hammer. bobby even unconnects the mic and throws that at him. damn. we just upped the tempo, more and more. when I stop to think about it now, we should've stopped playing and ended that shit. I hate violence like that, it's no way to solve anything and someone could've gotten really hurt. damn. I remember once opening for _primus_ in nyc w/fIREHOSE back in '93 and someone hit me in the teeth w/a quarter. I was so mad I picked it up and threw it back at the guy who chucked it at me. well, I missed at hit the guy next to him, a guy who was digging the gig. I felt like such a dick the rest of the night and played like shit. it totally brought me down. that was weird cuz I've been hit w/everything over the years: used condoms, empty beer cans, full beer cans, lit cigarettes, paper bags full of puke, bags full of shit, stink bombs, cups of piss, etc. - you name it. I've never really reacted negatively but that once I did and had many regrets. bobby goes off stage and I'm dazed. david brings over j's mic cuz we're gonna do "loose" and I say to everyone "that definitely was no fun." I'm really in shock and stunned. the only blemish on a righteous gig for me and everyone else in the band too. I don't think anyone can believe what just happened. we go into "loose" and I put every piece of my heart into and man, are j and ron twisting up the intensity, guitar wise. it's pretty uplifting for my spirit. I then go behind the drums and give george a neck rub. we finish the show w/"freak scene."
I pack my amp and shit up right away and go to the side of the stage for a moment to compose myself a little and take this sweaty flannel off and put my levi jacket on. I then go into the crowd - I do not go backstage and upstairs. I did not dig what went down w/that violence shit and want the kids to know I'm w/them. I talk w/a bunch of them, they're very nice. they all start getting kicked out of the venue so I stay w/them outside on the sidewalk. ash bowie (_polvo_, _helium_) is there, wow - what a trip. we say hi. some folks from the first england gig in nottingham are here too: jo, chris and andrew. andrew's got some very interesting ideas about everything. we talk about bukowski, camus and other profound thinkers. he shows me a book he thinks I should read regarding objects and collecting. a philosophical metaphor for life and experience. hmmm... there's a cat from lafayette back in louisiana who's here in the u.s. air force and he's w/someone he just met from switzerland that knows all kind of my music. weird how gigs can bring folks together, not just worship for the idiot on the stage. after a bit, I go around the corner to a kebab place. the cat behind the counter says I look just like his brother. he's from afghanistan. this happens a lot when I have a beard and get a lot of sun. I look like people all over the world. I've been talked to in farsi, hebrew, arabic, spanish - all kinds of mistaken identity. he's a very nice man and tells me all geniuses have had beards: engles, guevera, castro, mohammed... this is funny. I tell him I love the poems of rumi. he knows who I'm talking about and tells me about sufis in afghanistan, how they have a direct connection w/god. he makes me a great kebab salad in a pita and I wish him a good night. he calls me brother.
making my way back, I have to dodge drunks pouring out of pubs all over the sidewalks - things close up early around here, even on a friday. david and noel are ready to bail and I go back to the ho w/them. I am totally soaked from work tonight. I dug it much though (except for that violence shit) and think it was the best gig of the tour. best I played for sure. the other guys were great too. I get out of that wet and into the hot tub and settle into a soothing soak. then into clean, dry levis and flannel - all soft. j, kevin and george come into me and noel's room and I fashion a can to intake mota. just a little and it's down on the deck for watt. then mask on and down. I hear them as they step over me to get out the hatch. adios, compadres.
saturday, june 9, 2001 - brighton, england
pop to find the bright blue blessing the window as I pull up the mask. the most brilliant light comes early in this land. downstairs to shovel the first chow of the day. j's down there too. lots of pears for me, a bowl full of them w/bing cherries and yogurt. nothing else. then it's out the hatch and south a little way to get some post cards I saw econo for a postal flow from england to my pedro people and then back up the gloucester road to the gardens again except this time I turn east instead of entering. I pass the dutch embassy. I pass the algerian one and there's a demostration outside w/dissidents from that land. bobbys are about w/theose funny hats and bright florescent yellow-green coats. fuck people getting tortured, I understand these folks' point. I pass the royal albert hall and go into hyde park via the alexandra gate, which is right next to kensington gardens, where I was yesterday. time for some camera work again. I get shots of beautiful flowers, folks in boats on the lake, fish in the lake (shallow water) and people who've rented horses that are wearing those bulbously-rounded velvet hats. then the birds, more mallards and swans but trippy geese too - orange beak and black beak ones. some trippy ducks that look wooden and pigeons too. wonderful and very tame - the come up right to you and love to get their picture taken. then I walk across this huge park to speaker's corner, in the northeast of it. from there I head south and stroll under these great trees. the park goes back to when george II built it for his wife caroline in 1727 and it sure is gorgeous. not too many people this early and I really dig that. I pass this neat fountain of a man and woman dancing in the middle w/children playing around them in a circle. there's some guy sitting in one of the troughs in a full set of clothes, just letting the water drench him. he doesn't seem to mind and appears oblivious, as are the people sitting on benches all around. bizarre scene but I have to keep walking. I go down exhibition road and see the royal geographical society (w/a statue of stanley livingston, I preusme), the great exhibition hall and the giant museum of natural history. damn, I wish I had time to go inside these pads. I have to continue on though. we've got to drive to brighton to do the last gig in england for this tour.
I get back to the ho and j's finishing up an interview. the cats who did it want to take pictures of me so I let him. one of them lived in dallas, texas for a while and people would confuse him w/being latino cuz of some darker skin (rare for the mostly pasty complexion folks have here). I tell him I know what he means but it's fun. you can see how people react when they're caught on the unawares and develop a sensitivity for what it's like to be someone else or observing how people act when the led to believe something that has fooled their eyes. a chance to step away and observe the role-playing we find ourselves acting out, mostly w/out thinking, based on generalizations and assumptions. pretty funny.
into the van and south to brighton. it's a coastal town like plymouth but no harbor and to the east. more of a resort and a big fancy place called the pavilion that king edward (queen victoria's father) had built and boned his mistresses in. or from, seems there was a secret tunnel running under it. weird construction, it has a taj mahal motif to it w/tons of little domes all about. speaking of boning, ron has stories for us on the ride down of being in london in 1972 while recording "raw power" w/iggy. he was here nine months and they had a cook, hash all the time and a maid, which he boned. he was in a neighborhood w/robert wagner and natalie wood - tony curtis too. him and his brohter scott (rock action) helped him move an antique coffee table. he said james williamson would not stop playing the _t. rex_ record, "bang a gong," so he put on some _mom's mabely_ to counteract what was driving him up the walls. my first concert was seeing marc bolan in long beach about that time so I have a different take on it then him. I probably would've been digging williamson playing that stuff non-stop! ron's good ol' days. he told us about meeting keith moon too but that was in hollywood. his friend, spacey, took him to the whisky-a-go-go and they only got little monies so ron tells his friend to nurse what they got. well, spacey sees keith moon in a booth and buys double bacardi 151 rum and cokes for them all - there goes the money. keith though, orders more and pretty soon spacey is passed out and ron has to carry him out cuz the whisky don't dig konk outs. keith says to meet him laster at the hyatt house. ron brings dennis thompson (mc5 drummer) and keith is about to come out w/them when john bonham (led zeppelin drummer) grabs him and says, "you ain't going anywhere w/those fucking americans." ron and dennis were scissored just like that. he said dennis was so mad cuz there were his two idols and he got nothing but middle finger. ron has lots of great stories.
we're actually playing a part of _the pavilion_, rented out by the city to the promoter, anna. david knows her from doing his first tour w/kathleen hanna's _le tigre_ last winter. she tells us about being to new york city and loving it, wanting to move there. that's funny. I love visiting there but to make a move? the other man's grass is... I love my pedro. the rest of the world is for checking out. I always want to return home that at the end of the journey. that what this man who lives by touring thinks. kevin's come down via the train. so great to have him around these gigs. his friend from france, charlotte has come too. I check things out around the pad and get a little book that has funny historical facts. it's called "the terrible tudors," about the royal line that ruled england from 1400 - 1600. king henry the VIII was one. so was the first elizabeth (she was the last). I get a postcard too of the bed victoria used here. you can see like five fucking matresses on top of the boxsprings part. sure ain't the deck.
the opening band is a techno duo named _paranoids_ they're trippy. I don't know much about that music. it always reminds a little of _kraftwerk_, who I always dug since a teenager. our turn next, ron's last gig w/us. walking up on the stage, I see something in the back of the white marshall head ron is using. it's the bass strings we've been looking for - six sets! damn. j knew they were somewhere. anyway, we begin w/"blowin' it," one we haven't done in a while and I do blow it, coming out of one part wrong. aaaarrrgghhh. I have to say, last night took a lot out of me - I tried so hard and kicked up almost everything I had and am still reeling from it. this is a hard gig for me already. great support from the crowd though. it's a packed house and they're very enthusiastic. just gotta focus. the p.a. system is pretty toy too so I can't count on good monitors. "waistin'," "same day" and "the lung" next. I must've hit the headstock on george's ride cymbal cuz damn if the 'g' string ain't way, way out of tune for "back before you go," where I got a bass solo. aaaarrrggghhh again, what a doof. we follow w/"the wagon" and complete the part before ron w/"amma ring." another short one, j seems to like it little before having our special guest climb on board w/us. like the other shows, the first one w/ron is "down on the street." pretty good but I know it's gonna be tough on my voice. the monitors are way pretendo. "loose" next and man are things swirling. ron as a marshall cabinet that looks like a normal one but a look at the grill shows only two 12s, strange - never seen one like this. he's still loud as fuck though and we do double fisted, snarl version of "alone" which is way tripped out. double, double double, double, double on the lead guitar rages. like stell spaghetti being strung around the room. we end w/"tv eye" and I almost slip on wine somebody spills up front on the stage. they didn't mean to but I'm just so paranoid w/these lame knees of mine. we come back w/"I wanna be your dog" and it's real good fun jamming a tune like this right next to the man who wrote, it's still hard for me to believe this is happening. too bad it's the last gig cuz I'm gonna really miss ron, his playing and his stories. I'm interested to see what he does next, says he might be playing w/his brother soon. we do "(just like) heaven" and it's hard to hear j's lead guitar which is really weird for me. ron is blasting loud and if you can believe it, jangley - like rem style through a marshall! funny. next is "no fun" and boy, is my voice tapped, damn. to think about it, this whole gig was pretty tough for me, I think last night had to draw something extra out of watt to get things that good for me and I gotta recharge what's missing. thank god I got a rest for a bit. our last tune w/ron is "freak scene." the brighton folks are very nice - matter of fact, all these people who came to the shows in england and scotland were great. I felt very proud to play for them. thanks, folks.
pack up and talk w/some great english kids, there's a cat from the u.s. too who married a native here and now has three kids but still plays the drums. downstairs in the dressing room we have some big hugs and I even take a swig out of ron's vodka bottle. goodbye time for ron. we're staying at the royal albion, a ho right by the pier. we're on the minus one floor so you take some stairs down and man, is this funny - I go through seven pairs of fire doors to get to the room. very kafka like, lots of turns. wash this sweaty watt off w/a soak. then upstairs to the lounge part, kevin's there w/his french friend charlotte and her friends from scotland who live here now. there's this writer guy (music critic) too who used to sign his name as "the legend." j's known his a while, his pop even fixed this guy's teeth once when he visited amherst to do spiel w/j. he tells me I have nice hair but then is kind of belligerent to one of the scottish ladies, keeps calling her "posh." I don't gather exactly what he means but by the tone of his voice, you can tell it's mean. the lady keeps telling him he's got the wrong idea but he won't let up. damn, what's up w/that? I shake my head and bail, enough of that nonsense. konk time for me anyway, should've done that right out of the tub earlier.
sunday, june 10, 2001 - brighton, england
spaced and forgot the mask so mr. sun gives me his wakeup call. through the seven pairs of doors and upstairs, no free chow here - twelve pounds for per feed bag - fuck that. I head out and find a sky watercolor-painted w/clouds. across the road to the beach. the "beach" has no sand, only millions of pebbles, all the way to the water. I stop at a chow pad called "the beach cafe" and get my last "full english breakfast" of the tour for four pounds. those tomatoes again, peeled skins and whole, all cooked up along w/egg and hotdog-style sausage and fatty pink "bacon." good thing I'm doing a big hoof to work this load off. I do a big explore of the pier. built like a hundred years ago, it's got all kinds of amusement park type of stuff: little kid rides, carnival game booths, video games, chow booths, souvies and dust magnet trinket shit shops, etc. after a while, I go back to the ho to chimp diary for a while.
round two of my sally forth through brighton beach. today's the second day off of the tour so no gig tonight. no drive either. we're gonna leave early tomorrow morning and take the chunnel to france and begin the continent part of the euro tour. if you think walking on the sand is tough, you should try these little rocks, it makes the go very tough if you stay on them. neat sound, though. I head east along side this little rail line called the "volks railroad" and aim for the marina. some cat told me to check that pad out last night at the gig. for the first time of the tour, I get some fish and chips. just a little bit to get that taste. and grease, lots of it. oh man. all fueled for my big hike. I try to remember where I last played in brighton, near the water here and some place maybe called the _zap club_ or something like that? can't find it but I walk on, passing windsurfers, jet skiers, and all types of boats. the water is really calm like a pool and green like the water I've seen off of florida. all the railings and light poles are painted foam green, wrought-iron trim on the arches below the road that's on the cliffsides above the beach. it's quite a hike to the brighton marina but worth it. tons of boats, lots of pleasure craft but fishing ones too. funny names, "breaking wind," "come quickly" and there's sailboat w/two old men mannning it called "chaos." there's a huge sea wall type breakwater maybe twenty feet up out of the water that you can walk on. there's a lower level you can fish from too. it starts on the east end of the marina and then wraps around west 'til it ends for an inlet in. this means you gotta walk all the way back when you get to this point. I didn't stop to realize this but I'm glad I did it anyway, why should I care if I have to double back. I'm taking in all these sights and I love it. there's huge white cliffs that are topped w/green fields, pads peppering the rolling hills criss-crossed w/roads. in the far end of the marina are boats w/floats and traps, probably crabbers. lots of skin diver boats and those inflated zydeco ones - man, can they jam. they draw hardly any water, floating on the surface the way they do (like a pontoon boat) and w/big outboad motors, all the way gunned. damn. I start my way back. wow, already almost three hours of walking, I dig it though. I pass the anchor of a big freighter that got beached here about twenty years ago. that must've been a mess. there's a bike abandoned on the path here, wheels all bent up, tires flat and the seat gone. makes me feel sad and used up. aahh, chase those feelings away... I'm back on the pier and get some whelks, something I chowed w/george hurley when I played this town last - back w/fIREHOSE in 1991. whelks are big snails and taste like mussels or boiled oysters. mmmm. you chow them w/a toothpick from a little cup. this cheers me up, the sun comes out bright too and I walk west of the brighton pier towards the pier that's all burned up and wrecked, the west pier. thre's a juggler doing his thing w/fire wands. there's also antique penny arcades and trampolines w/giant swings all in one unit. some old style carousels too. the side facing the sea is all hotels, tons of them. some going back and some brand new. I go as far as regent square and make the turn around. I pass by pads called 'rock shops' and find out they're not shops selling rocks like out in arizona or new mexico but here "rocks" mean hard candy, big sticks of it. one pad has this huge "rock" the size of a baseball bat w/a sign above it saying: "yes, it's real rock: brighton's biggest stick." damn. I pass this shop that repairs oriental rugs. what an amazing view through the front window to look at all the incredible patterns stitched together. has me hypnotized.
I somehow break away and return to the ho, back through all the doors and and in the room to rest these feet a bit. that was fun though. I love not talking for hours and just taking things in, my brain really gets going in that mode too. I write up a batch of cards for my pedro friends. noel comes in the room to say everyone is going to see _the strokes_ play the same pad we played last night. they're supposed to be the next big thing I'm told. good enough reason for me to miss the show. anyway, w/all that hoofing, I don't much want to stand around in a crowd, no disrespect to them. I do go to find a little dinner. I venture into "the lanes," an old part of the town w/tiny, curvy streets. I get a little pizzia made by italians, an "american hot" one that's got chilies. nothing like back home though - you can imagie how much of a jones I got for some habaneros or even jalapenos at this point. spicyness is very tame over here. I pass this pad that looks interesting, sheets w/slogans hanging over the door saying "cog in the machine? spanner in the works!," "no matter who you vote for, government wins" and "p.s. free masons are scum." I go inside and listen to people airing anarchist views. interesting to follow, I'm scared to really join in the discussion and just hear the others out. I wonder if they know I'm from the u.s.? do you think now days that anyone actually looks like they come from there when everyone here is dressed like there? if the word-hole stays closed, can they still know? do they think I'm a pig (el hombre) on the spy tip?
back to the ho and through all those firedoors. chimp 'til tired and start to fade. noel and george come in from that gig they went to. I have to catch the next train to sleepytown, liftoff is eary on 'morrow. mask, blankie, drop, konk. out.
monday, june 11, 2001 - hasselt, belgium
pop at six and soak for the last time in england this tour. no time for a hoof or chow, we're going to what I've heard people here call the "big island off the coast of england," europe. j, noel and I are waiting in the lobby but no david or george. finally they show and they're pissed, no wakeup call. david complains to the desk person, then george, then david again but to a manager. we gotta roll though cuz we'll miss the train. a pretty drive along the southern english coast east to folkestone, near dover. farms, cows, horses and sheep - I even see a flock of black sheep! a twisty road, almost need a kidney belt for the heaves and hos along the way. we pass an british army base, the first I've seen all tour. there's lots of fake buildings w/only fronts - must be for training like at camp pendleton, between l.a. and san diego. no soldiers though, just red flags flying everywhere. we get to the terminal and get checked for bombs. then we get in line, we've made it in time w/seven minutes to go. the way the chunnel works is that you drive the van on to a train and ride through the tunnel, under the channel, in your van - you never leave your seat. there's a window in the door of the train car and everything outside goes dark and you feel a rumble, sort of like you were on a ferry. the ears pop as we descend and ascend, just like in a plane. they got a diagram on the wall that shows there's actually two trains, one going each way and a service tunnel between them that allows you to escape through if something happens. after about a half-hour, I see the outside world go by as we pop out into france. we go north into belgium, w/the e.u. agreement they have here now there's not even a passport check, you just drive on through. back on side of road we drive on in the u.s., it's trippy in a vehicle w/the driver wheel on the right. espically trippy for the passenger, since he's the one near the center line! david does well though and compensates good.
we get to the hasselt, which is east of brussels and just south of the dutch border. this part of belgium is called flanders and they speak a form of dutch called flemish. the other belgium folks speak a dialect of french called walloon. anyway, this is my first time playing this town. off the highway and into town, it's time to wander and wander we do. finally we find where we're playing, the _muziek-o-droom_ and it's in an industrial park. like most pads on the continent, this is a youth center w/a cafe, concert hall, recording studio, and other cultural resources. wim is the boss here and he's a very nice man, lets me use a 'puter to send some emails. I haven't got my ibook online overseas here, though I have to say I haven't really tried - no time, really. this being the continent, that means the table in the dressing room is full of chow. some great onion, tomato, feta, olives and oil salad. I have a big plate. some trippy tea too though I can't find what the name of it is. there's breads, cheeses, chips - tons of consumables and this on top of a dinner meal. see why I dodge the suppers? there's way more than enough w/just the finger chow. j goes off to do an instore w/his new pignose amp guitar (the amp and speaker are right in the guitar its battery powered). when he gets back, we do soundcheck and then folks come by for some interviews and we have some good spiels.
the opening act is a local one, in fact, the guitar player works at the place where j did the instore and ran the sound. they're called _fence_ and sound a little like the way _weezer_ does. being so used to playing in _the fog_, they sound incredibly tiny on stage, I'm so accustomed to wailing loud guitar, etc. they're great singers. next is us and we get ready to go. good crowd, even w/finals going on w/school. our first gig back to the regular fog format, just three cats, blasting their brains out via music. we begin the gig w/"blowin' it" and damn, if I ain't blowin' it again. what's w/me? I hit open 'a' notes from the third string where I should be palying 'c' or 'a' - I can't fanthom the source of this fuckedupness except for maybe not having a sharp enough focus. it is only the second time we've played it this tour leg but that's no excuse, not good enough for me. makes me mad at myself, damn it. the stage is made of what's like twenty ping-pong tables and this sends a funy resonance up from the lowend, muddying everything. bet noel has to notch hard at a hundred hertz. this pad has many concrete pillars and it seems one side of the p.a. is behind some - whoa! whatever, you work the room. the crowd is great and very attentive. the subdued (in part, anyway) "alone" is next. what a romp though three chords it is. j's closest falcetto he gets to uncle neil young too. flag's "I've had it" next and the hasselt folks get some watt voice in the ear hole. surprisingly (why do I say that though?), lots of fists in the air. thank you. then "repulsion" and things are pretty mushed-up for me, hard to hear what's happening in the bass department but it seems my fingers are in the right places at the right time. "back before you go" and it's time to mime some bass solo. my total trust and hopes for bass expression are in noel's hands here and I just gotta believe. gotta give him something good to work w/cuz like my old friend, joe from venlo used to say "you can't polish a turd." I'm wearing my favorite flannel and it's already soaked to the bone. we do "waistin'," "same day" and "budge" - I shake my fire hair hard for that last one, reminds me of the huskers and I picture myself as sportin' greg norton but more insane and not as handsome. we had a day off yesterday and my voice has recovered some for the bellowing necessary for "I'm not fine," our next number. the monitor tech, debora, does a good job getting me up enough on stage so I can tell what universe I'm originating from. thank you for combating the mime mode. I fuck up in the middle part where we break down but george gives me good eye contact and I get back on. thanks, george. "little fury things" and then "amma ring" follow. we wind things up w/"tv eye" and I get so pumped, I fly up the stairs when done, looking for some water. aaaarrrrggghhhh, the dressing room is locked up. wim comes up to get me, there's water on the stage. I get down there and find j and george doing a duet together. very nice. I apologize for being an idiot and making them wait. we dive into "the wagon" w/"freak scene" right behind. me and george have worked up a little ramp-up behind the guitar spaz at the end and it's real fun to do together. gig done.
pack my stuff up and I find the jack on the back of the bass cabinet has come out again, like what happened after soundcheck on the first gig in nottingham. what's up w/marshall? to have this good amp and then such a shitty way to deliver the sound to the speakers. it's like having a supercharged hemi mated to a 50s vw tranny - definite bottleneck. gotta tend to this tomorrow when we set up. a cat from a band called _perverted_, who I did some gigs over here w/the _black gang_ in '98 gives me a cd of their newest stuff. I get a lot of congrats from the belgian cats. thank you. time to go. but that doesn't mean we're going straight to the ho. first we must wander. a funny one this time too. we end circling around and returning to the venue three times! no blame to david and noel though, they're trying their damndest. j puts on a video he got of some _fleetwood mac_ reunion gig and him and george are glued to it. well, j's fast forwarding through most of it but I can't believe for the life of me why we're watching it. well, I ain't - I avert my eyes. different pokes for different folks. on the fourth try we make it but can't get in the ho so wim has to come help us. the only thing that's tough for me is sitting in these wet fucking clothes, aaaarrrrgggghhh. we finally get in the room and it's hardwood floor. I dig the deck but the wood doesn't give and I get bruises. so I get a matress and put it down by the door and konk on that. trippy feeling but I fall asunder even still after a hot bath frees me of the chill on my bones. hello sweet sueno.
tuesday, june 12, 2001 - eindhoven, netherlands
pop and right out the hatch cuz of being scrubbed last night. in fact, I've been doing this a lot this tour on advice from a friend, get those emissions removed before konking. into the chow room and have the breakfast fare: salami and cheese on rolls - really sliced thin, euro style. then it's outside to hoof. there's construction going on so the street's kind of torn up. they're putting a wide sidewalk in but it's not just for walking - people are riding motorscooters on it so I gotta watch out. I don't like the cement anyway so I'm on the dirt next to it which has that righteous crust texture where your feet sink in about an inch but no muddying on the chucks. I like the feeling of my weight pushing me in, cushioning each step - the idea of walking on a freshly-baked cake. seems we're outside the town pretty much, I walk past a pig farm. the weather's hazy like my town, pedro, in the morning but the smells are so much different (pig farm vs. the ocean). only a few buildings to walk by and they're pretty plain. after an hour and a half I go back and to my room to chimp on the 'puter. noel's still konked so I get some good shots of him w/the digicamera w/his mouth in flytrap mode. he wakes in the middle of a shot and we're both laughing.
the guys come downstairs and it's time to shove off. we're playing the _effenaar_ in eindhoven tonight and the dutch border is only a few miles away. so a short hop but that doesn't mean we'll get right there. for some reason, we weren't supplied w/maps to the venues so it's just a dive into the town and wander. funny. eindhoven is a factory town for holland, home of phillips electronics. my old friend, dutch dude carlos worked here many years ago. a whole new regime now days but they're very nice people. I go hoofing around and get some pom fritz met mayonnaise (french fries and mayo), not the healthiest but I thought since I'm in holland, I should have a little thing that makes me think of here. trippy how chow can be like that. I get some shots of around the square near the club, sure wish I had more time to really learn these towns but that's the way tour is. in lots of ways you just skim the surface. mainly you gather just images from the trip in and out of the town and the area around where you play. back in the club, j has a talk w/me about my bass tone. he wants more definition so I suggest some solutions. I will use mianly the back pickup, the one by the bridge. I have a blend control where I can mix the neck and bridge amounts. he also wants more distortion so I'll use the passive input instead of the active. more grind. kind of hilarious when we do a check, sounds like I'm playing guitar. that's what the boss wants. he explains his reasoning to me: since we trade licks during the jams, he wants there to be less difference between our sounds, have us be closer. he said kevin mentioned this to him during the english gigs. makes sense. I'll play closer to the bridge w/the pick too, where the sound gets the most pointy. he's worried about the low end being to much of a bogart on stage too. it can be a real problem, along w/the kick drum and floor tom. ok, I will do this - I'm here to learn new stuff anyway. I don't take any of it personal, like an affront to my "style," "thing" or anything. I'm like putty here, mold me. I think since I have my own bands and personal musical endeavors, I don't feel stifled in the least to do what's asked of me here.
lots of good breads, cheese and meats on the table in the dressing room so why chow dinner - just more ballast, huh? the opening band tonight is _lawn_, a groningen band. their sound is sort of like _tortoise_ mixed w/instrumental _sonic youth_, I would say. today is kira's birthday, she's forty now and I think of her as I plug in the little bass. she's such a great bassist and I've played so many years w/her, I truly love our band _dos_ and can't wait for the next record we're going to do. she's always inspired me w/her playing and I've learned much from her. I've even tried to copy the way she stands when she plays but w/these knees, it gets kind of tough. still, she's quite an influence on me, even after sixteen years. our set begins w/the peel medley and right away, I'm tripping on the sound from my bass. hardly any punch, the notes kind of all run together - trippy for me. ok, though. I hope it sits good in the overall sound, that's the goal of any bass sound/performance in my book - to aid and abet, make the song work. we then do the _stooge's_ "not right" and I can't hear my singing for shit. oh well, the monitor guy is new at this and it's tough for him. he's trying though and the stage guy, patrick, is helping him out. next is "mike's house" (what we call "what else is new"), first time for this one this tour leg, I think. I've got one wild bass solo at the end of this one, insane. the crowd is loaded w/good will. pretty good size too considering one of the folks running this pad told me earlier that ticket sales were poor and it might cave. they were worried we played hasselt the night before and that siphoned off some draw. "I'm not fine," "waistin'" and "freak scene" follow - trippy doing "freak..." in the middle of the set like that but I can dig it. j makes some good set lists. sure, there's some staples that we play each night but then also he shakes things up w/order. "same day" and "all the girls" are next and the monitors are finally there, in fact, they're great - I can every word j is singing. this also means I'm taking major lead guitar in the face when he steps away from the mic but that's ok - I'd rather have that then major mime coming down. "little fury things," "get me," and "back before you go" follow - three in a row w/bass solos - thank you very much, j. hope noel gets them out there for the kids and the new tone helps them along too. "amma ring" is the last one and here's where there was a big problem last night, j said the 'b flat' and 'f' notes in the verses were really bogarting. he even was moving the pinky on his picking hand like I asked him to do to help direct me but I was spaced out for a little bit. seems I moved to the lip of the stage and was facing backwards to gather what my sound was like coming out of my amp. at the end of the gig, I found the speaker cabinet's input jack was loose of its fastening nut. at soundcheck today, the main fuse blown. gotta check that jack each day. I've been setting up and putting away all my stuff - cables, boxes, amp covers just to make everything's proper or at leasat I'm responsible if something's fucked up. encore time and I tell david "see, the string's are holding cuz I dressed up the saddles." we play "I've had it" - I break the 'a' string on the first note! aaaarrrggggghhhh - you fucking doof, watt! it's real tough playing the lick, my brain goes dead and I can't figure an alternative even though it's only three notes - what a fuckin' 'tard!! in the panic, I screw the words up too, damn. all that after playing a pretty good set. oh well. we finish w/"the wagon" and this easy to do missing that string though I have to things up an octave at some points. gig done.
very nice words from members of the crowd as I finish my pack. the boss lady, christine, is very nice too. I feel so embarrassed getting told this but I do appreciate it. this cat who's older than me tells me the story of seeing fIREHOSE here when we opened for the _bad brains_ years ago. I gave him a t-shirt someone gave me at the gig and he has me sign cds he has that I play on. he tells me of how he doesn't go out as much now, can't handle the flavor-of-the-week band and the loud disco and would rather go to a jazz club w/just twentyfive people enjoying some music. very kind of him to still think of me and still come to see me, even w/all the decibels of sound. we were kind of worried w/the city regulations of 105 db but everything worked out. noel said he actually had headroom which is rare at most fog gigs. the monitor man apologizes for his newness but I tell him don't worry - he did great and got things really happening.
we load up and and we're almost out - one more sandwich! ok, now time to wander. it takes about an hour to get to the ho after aimlessly exploring eindhoven at night. there's a man walking his dog - boy, the dutch seem like the tallest people in europe - and by his grace, we finally find what we're looking for, the best western ho. soaked and fitted w/dryness, konk comes swift and smoothly.
wednesday, june 13, 2001 - groningen, netherlands
pop and chow downstairs. I take my time and think, I want to write a poem this morning. I'm holding my eyelids w/one hand and am deep in though when one of the maids says something to me in dutch. I tell her I don't understand. a little later, I'm lost thinking again - I've got the first part of the poem I want when this same lady comes up to me and says "sleep in your room not at your table!" well, god damn - what's up w/her? I say "I'm thinking, not sleeping." I don't persue it further, I get up and leave. what a fuckhead. aaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh. motherfuckers try to run my life. I was not sleeping, I'm fucking wide god damn awake. man, am I mad. I gotta hoof this off and start down the road. I find a tobacco shop and there's a box of one hundred and fifty cigars for fiftytwo dutch gilders (about twenty u.s. dollars now days). what a bargain, about thirteen cents a 'gar. they're called "wild havana" but they're from sumatra. I go find a cash machine and get fifty gilders. a trip how you can do that - speaking of money here, seems they only got four weeks before everyone in the e.u. (european union) except england and denmark are switching over to the euro and these native monies (gilders, francs, marks, lire, etc.) will be obsolete. easy for us foreigners but I hope it works out for the natives here too. seems like the idea is to make a kind of u.s. out of europe, I wonder if it'll work as planned. you hear all kinds of opinions from those involved - lots are skeptical about it. anyway, I get the 'gars and we're off for groningen, where we're playing tonight.
we get out of town easy but many blow-bys and loops await us down the road. I read the map and plot a course for us but david forgets to look for the towns ahead of the target town as the target town comes up and misses the off ramp (in europe, you gotta navigate more by towns instead of road number designations. our route today is s'hertogenbosch-nijmegen-arnhem-apeldoorn-zwolle-groningen) a couple of times. it's kind of comical and the distances in the netherlands aren't that great so there's not all that much time lost. lots of plug though, holland has much traffic. reminds me of l.a. in a way. I wouldn't call that a good thing. of all the things to copy from the u.s., traffic plugs aren't one of them. I doubt if they did it on purpose, however. just the consequences of more and more cars.
groningen is the biggest of the northern towns in holland and quite neat. of course, we have to loop around a few times before finding the pad. it's called _vera_ and is run by this great cat named peter. I've known him for years and dig him much. he's known all over for selflessly developing and cultivating a scene here where live music is still a thriving and vital force. there's a little cafe room upstairs where there's flyers for shows from all the years along w/band's promo pictures and it's quite a history. there's even a list of the folks here's "top ten dinosaur soungs." we're going to play five of them tonight. there's been some changes over the years, they've added rooms behind the gig hall so you can konk there. damn, little chance to wander after the gig tonight. maybe I can don the mask and stumble about outside. the joke will be on me later, I'll find out.
we have some good sandwiches. there's this stuff called "chocomel" from holland that j and george drink. well, j has like half a bottle. george has a few. it's like a cholcolate milk drink w/about a thousand calories a chug. I have red bell pepper (what the english called 'capsicum') and salami on this good wheat bread. man, do I miss the habaneros though. what they call chilies here (salsa too) is so mild compared to what I got back home. a mild dissapointment though, I dig europe much and their chow also - just miss the burn rides. the television is blasting some local show where the host is taking peter around town in a limo while he's talking. it's in dutch though (no shit, fucking idiot american). this pad is a total little industry onto itself: offset printing, graphic design, web design - great. good work, peter. they got a map of the u.s. on the wall and it even has pedro. well, ok! there's a picture of _dinosaur_ when they first started, man is it funny to see how everyone really changed, especially murph. there's a shot of george in _gobblehoof_ too but he didn't make the tour they did over here. face in a picture only, someone else was on drums. a beardless watt in fIREHOSE, some of our first promo shots ever. j and george get some big laughs out of george hurley's "unit," the geyser of hair he had sprouting from the front part of his head. edward looked so young too - we all did. there's grant hart and his _nova mob_, the _run westy run_ guys, _leaving trains_, jeff dahl, _meat puppets_, johnny thunders, _dictators_, greg sage, _blood on the saddle_, _dead moon_, arto lindsay, _sonic youth_, _nirvana_, _mudhoney_, _tar babies_, alex chilton, _nomeansno_, _the gories_, _boredoms_, _bad brains_ and many others. damn, quite a history. thanks, peter.
the opening band is a local one called _whipster_ and are built around a guitarist who has a kind of _wipers_ and neil young sound. they're a trio on stage but a cat plays keyboards but the mixing desk. they sing like lee ranaldo doing spoken word. we're on at eleven tonight which is probably the latest gig of the tour. I dig early gigs but it's ok, anything for peter. folks like him are one of the reasons I continue to tour and play my brains out. I feel part of a big team, no matter how many years go by. there's a backroom behind the stage and I find noel on a couch in their, konked hard. I chimp 'puter as we wait for our turn. george has another chocomel. the place is packed and we open w/"severed lips." boy, is that some mid-range on the bass. just want to make j happy, make it fine for him. funny, "I'm not fine" is next. great response from the folks. then "the lung" and "waistin'," time for more 'gar. damn, almost a headrush. we do "little fury things" and I literally do get one doing that hollering at the beginning. the "I've had it"/"repulsion" couplet next and I make up for the clam-blow from last night w/the flag song. "same day" and then "back before you go" follows. for the first time this tour, we do "raisins," j said it was requested of him. a non-bogarting bass on "amma ring" (but w/more sustain on those verse bass notes - j said there wasn't enough last night) and then "tv eye" to close. I run to the backstage to get some water cuz I'm drenched in sweat. those lights were hot! this guy kept yelling for "maggot brain" so I ask j if we can do it and he complies. he's really a generous man. we do right after (I mean really right after, I miss the first chord) "the wagon" and I break an 'e' string, damn. well, the bass was super-sweaty when I took it out of the case today. maybe corosion already set in and weakended the strings. our last tune is "freak scene" but you wouldn't know it cuz j has run all three of the encore tunes into one. right at the end I break a 'd' string. no matter, the gig is done. whoa, new set tomorrow for sure.
after packing my bass stuff up, I give those two broken bass strings to a nice man. lots of nice folks, I sign several things. we're leaving very early for denmark tomorrow so if I want this card and its poem mailed, I better go now. I head up the hill and into groningen's main square. huge and empty at the center, on its edges are late night people eating at the 'febo' pad: rows of small little doors, each filled w/a deep fried something. strange. people getting on their bikes and riding off. in the middle of the huge plaza, I twirl and like a lighthouse beacon, surveying for a bight red mailbox. ah, success. push the card through the plastic fingers and down. then think of jimbo, what happened w/him? he had planned to see us here before a wedding the next day in paris. oh well, I hope he's safe. one life is made of many gigs, he can come to another one later, maybe in his town. I will see him at the end of tour anyway, I want to spend a few days in nyc before going back to pedro.
back to vera. a very tall man who has a band called _jar_ tells me he played his first gig three weeks ago. alright! he said he did it in a ten foot by ten bell tower. peter takes me to get some jim beam in the little cellar bar they got downstairs. five ounces in me later and after much discussion w/very cool dutch dudes, my adrenaline runs out and I'm done. I don't drink like this anymore and feel not so good. my team is all konked in the rooms in the back (the last one I saw was j, who said some girl was telling him "the gig wasn't very deep") and I'm just in the hall, so tired. I figure the room me and noel is locked and I don't want to wake him so I just lay down in a semi-konked way in the hall way, still w/my 'puter and camera bag. aahh. george comes out of his room at some point to piss and asks me what I'm doing. I tell him I'm konking. then I figure I want the stench off and go to where you get clean. no tubs, damn. there's a shower though but you have to keep pressing the faucet thing every like three minutes. aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh. I just lie down in the tiled square where you stand to shower and clog the drain w/my body. there's like three inch lip and that fills so I have sort of a shallow soak, like a birdbath. I keep hitting the faucet w/my foot 'til all the hot water runs out and then naked, holding all my stuff, go and try me and noel's door. it's open! I grab the blankie and wrap it around me and konk for good, such a strange close to this evening.
read week 1 of the tour diary
read week 3 of the tour diary
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