Tour Journal – 2005 – Vol. 1 – Issue. 4

…from a moving truck.

Fort Worth is hell.

I thought all of Texas would be hell, but people here have been pretty chill for the most part. We still see anti-bush bumper stickers mixed
in with the “with us or against us” stuff, and those are mostly on gas guzzling trucks. The people here have turned out to be, well, people.

But Fort Worth, damn, this place is awful! Yeah yeah yeah, i know, your Mom/Brother/Best Friend/Hamster come from Fort Worth and they said it
was the friendliest place on earth, best food, good people, yadda yadda yadda. I love you, your Mom, and your hamster. But Jeeze…

I was sick of finding us nice places to stay, so we decided to stay in the first place we found closest to the gig. I mean we were only staying there 2 nights, how bad could it be?

Where do i start? I need to pause here to collect the proper adjectives and inflammatory rhetoric. The motel was in, as far as i can tell, the
worst part of Fort Worth, and therefore, Texas, and therefore, the U.S. (except maybe Florida… again no offense to your Mom/Brother/Best
Friend/Hamster.)

Imagine a horrible room with cinder block walls, pealing grey paint and the same picture on two different walls. Check that out, why have two of the same picture in the room? why not just have one picture? Do two of the same picture cost less than two different pictures? The utter nastiness of the bathroom made the rest of the room seem actually quite cheerful by comparison. We went to bed thinking it couldn't get any worse. This silly myth was popped like a soap bubble by the drunk man pounding on our door at 2am asking us for money [J note: well, actually it was more like 11pm, but that didn't make it that much more pleasant]. We moved out the next morning.

The rest of Fort Worth seemed, well, ignored. It looked desolate and forgotten. Our first night there we desperately tried to acquire food,
only to find an utter lack of grocery stores and every restaurant closed, even the ones that had hours posted as open. We would've been
creeped out if we weren't so brain addled by starvation. We ended up eating in the only place open for miles. It was (i am not exaggerating
here) an Italian restaurant, run by a Slovak family, with an entirely Hispanic clientèle. They had a TV playing Hungarian movies, and a small
storefront selling nothing but Cyrillic magazines and bad east European chocolate. I think i confused our waitress with the word “vegetarian.”
[J note: We actually really liked that restaurant, and we found out what the Czech phrase 'krasny den' means, which has been bugging us,
except the food was pretty awful. I just ate garlic bread.]

The university was pretty normal, and our new hotel was better. Although i would describe our room decor as, “an ode to hunting dogs.” Once the show was done, we got the hell out of Fort Worth.

Some things we've seen while traveling through Texas;

1.) Variegated hills – as far as i can tell the hundreds of thousands of cows that walk the land don't like to walk up or down hills, so they
graze walking around the hills in a sort of spiral pattern, making every hill into a sort of huge topo map. Creepy but kinda neat.

2.) Austin botanical garden – Amazing constructed Japanese streams and waterfalls running through the whole park

3.) Bumper sticker, “We're making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

4.) A truck on the side of the highway engulfed in flames. [J note: This time, G's not exaggerating.]

Tour Journal – 2005 – Vol. 1 – Issue. 3

21 miles from San Marcos Texas.

Once again i sit here in the cab of our trusty yellow truck, blank page before me, and another mundanely pleasant week behind us. I'm sorry to
report that this road journal contains no totaled trucks, tornadoes, police chases, or marauding zombie hordes. Well, we are a little lost
right now, and we did get pulled over by a cop.

Actually that part was weird. We we're going too fast, a police car pulled up behind us, we pulled over, he used his bullhorn to ask us to
pull over somewhere safer, we drove up the road a bit…

…and then he was gone! We waited for a bit, but he had vanished into the proverbial thin air. Speaking of cops, you remember how our truck
had been totaled in San Fran? Well, when we were in Dallas J called her house mate and found out that on the night of the accident the
Eugene police had showed up at her house [J note: like, showed up at 4am]. Turns out that they had somehow gotten the idea that our truck
was 24 days overdue. We're fugitives!

We had to spend a bit of time clearing it up, but i think we're no longer material for a TV movie.

Going back a little; The drive from Stanford to Dallas was frankly kinda stressful and long. We saw a few cool things like the 'Brisbane Cow
Palace', I spent a half an hour yelling, in a British announcers voice, “Welcome to the Brisbane Cow Palace!” until J got sick of it.

We also passed the 'Casa de Frutas' Parkway, J has decided that is her new nickname for me, hopefully she wont use it in bed.

After the second day of driving we made it to Amarillo Texas.

I'm going to cut to the chase, the whole town smelled like manure. The parking lot, the lobby, our room, everything. I imagine after living here for awhile you probably don't even notice it, or you kill yourself. From Amarillo we made it to Dallas, which thankfully did not smell like manure.

Not much to say about the show. Our contact at the venue was an extremely friendly southern gentleman with a handlebar mustache. We again sold very little merchandise, met some nice folks, and more or less hung out a lot.

I spent much of my time obsessing about food. Here are the dietary habits of the migratory J and G:

I'm gonna level with you, on the last tour in Florida, J and i ate a lot, A LOT, of taco bell. We felt like crap most of the time, and felt perpetually guilty about giving money to a multinational corporation. This time around, convinced that i'm fat, and determined to eat well on this tour, i've pretty much gone raw foods vegan. I've been subsisting on salads, fruit, and those weird burritos you can make by wrapping a leaf of some shit around some other shit. J's been eating pretty good too.

Anyway, we've left Dallas. We stopped in Houston for a few days to visit one of J's oldest and bestest friends. Dave. He's wonderful, i
consider him a friend of mine now too. He and his partner Erika and J and i had dinner a few times and went to Quaker meeting on Sunday. Oh!
And we went to this amazing place. Called the 'ArtCar' museum. You gotta see it! http://www.artcarmuseum.com/

Anyway anyway, we're near San Marcos Texas, about a half an hour south of Austin. More reports later.

Tour Journal – 2005 – Vol. 1 – Issue. 2

from a hotel room in Mountain View California.

I'm going to be honest with you. I was pretty terrified until our truck was destroyed…

but i'm getting ahead of myself…

Stanford has been pleasant. Amazingly pleasant. In fact it's been so undramatically pleasant that i haven't been able to think of any
engaging stories to tell you about our time here. The shows have been terrible; we barely sold any CDs or anything, but whatever.

We've been hanging out and chatting (sometimes flirting) with the ethnically diverse (and for the most part extremely attractive) student body. J would occasionally sneak away into the bookstore to flip through sci-fi books, and i would dig through their physics and music books.

So, as i said, everything was very nice, but not all that newsworthy.

This morning we let ourselves sleep in, slowly packing and getting ready to go. Our plan was to drive into San Francisco to stop by Good
Vibrations to pick up some lube (Good Vibrations is a worker owned cooperative sex shop), and then start off on the 29-hour drive to Dallas. I was thinking how i wouldn't have anything interesting to report to y'all when the phone rang (cue low swell of dramatic music.) J picked it up, i wasn't paying much attention until she said, “We didn't get into a car accident.”

Long story short; While we were sleeping, a drunk driver nailed our truck hard enough to knock it out into the street. By some miracle he
wasn't killed, but the back of our truck looks like bad student art. The cops towed the wreckage of the truck away but didn't wake us up to
tell us, so we didn't find out till our insurance company called us to ask us what happened. I'm actually glad they called when they did. In another 10 minutes we would have been out on the curb scratching our heads and wondering who would want to steal our truck.

We spent most of today arranging for a new truck and transferring our undestroyed posters and stuff from our old truck to our new truck. Oh, one cool thing, we couldn't get the back of the truck open (even with a sledgehammer), so some dude had to come up with a forklift and pry the
thing open. I was chanting, “Jaws of life, jaws of life!” It really had a sort of party atmosphere.

So now we're leaving tomorrow morning (unless someone hits our new truck tonight.) J and i agreed that it was good that we hadn't named our old truck, since we lost him so early in our relationship. The trip to Dallas might be a bit tricky since there are apparently wind, snow and
rainstorm warnings to the south of us (i didn't think you could have all three of those at the same time.) Wish us luck.

Tour Journal – 2005 – Vol. 1 – Issue. 1

From the cab of a yellow truck.

There's a lot of frickin' snow up in the mountains between Oregon and California. If you receive this, I guess it means we didn't die in some
arctic snow bank. But then again maybe we did, and i'm sending this from the other side of the twilight veil, oooh spooky.

Anyway, we've been driving for five hours and i'm already set to quit the whole tour. Maybe we can find some quaint ski town and live there.

To get you up to date on the last two and a half weeks, we've been planning, packing, traveling, and/or hanging out with our parents. We started by flying out to Detroit on December 13th and spent a week there.

Oh, how to start this part?

My family is crazy.

I'm sure you think your family is crazy, but no, that's because you haven't hung with mine. For some reason it's been important to me that J connect with my family, and i've been planning this trip for months. The logic of this seemed to evaporate as we drew nearer and nearer to Michigan.

On the flight into Detroit i occupied myself writing a depressing story about our plane crashing. I think J wrote some story about unicorns and bunnies. [note from J: Did not – it was about a little girl and a Pegasus!]

I can encapsulate “The Michigan Visit” with two distinct events.

One: My dad revels to J and me that he has diagnosed my mother with Alzheimer's. In truth, as a retired audiologist, dad is unqualified to make such a diagnosis, but i think he brought it up because he's scared (“not scared”, he said when i tried to empathize with him “concerned for your mother.”) I think he figured he'd dump it on me and i'd run and talk to my mom about it (which i did), i imagine he was too afraid, um; i mean concerned to talk to her himself.

Two: A conversation with my mom;

MOM: I won't get too close to J because you don't stay in relationships very long.
ME: But mom J and i have been together for four years
MOM: Your sister has been MARRIED for ten years
ME: Yeah but their relationship is totally on the rocks.
MOM: Your father and i have been MARRIED for forty years
ME: You know J and have been talking about getting married.
MOM: I better be invited!
ME: Um, why would i tell you if i wasn't planning to invite you?
MOM: What does 'talking about it' mean anyway? I'll believe it when i see it.
ME: We've been talking about it for a year now.
MOM: And you haven't told me!

Etc etc etc… Eventually we escaped Detroit and flew down to St. Louis.

J's parents, while not up to my family's high standards of lunacy, are also crazy. I have the theory that J's family are secretly trying to
avoid each other. This theory was reinforced when her brother scheduled his visit to her parents to end the day before we showed up. When J complained that she wasn't going to see him, he bought new tickets… and arrived the day AFTER we left.

Of course on our end, the day we got in from Detroit we hopped into a minivan with J's mom and drove eleven hours out to Iowa to see J's
grandfather. J's dad stayed behind, so we spent christmas with J's mom and grandfather in an assisted living facility. I'm Pagan, so
christmas isn't really my holiday. But still it was a bit weird all the same. We spent most of the time there trying to hook J's grandfather up with someone, “Check her out Ken, she's pretty, and she plays piano.”

As with Detroit, we eventually left Iowa for another eleven hour drive back to St. Louis and left St. Louis for another 12-hour flight back to Eugene. I think the only reason we are even vaguely sane right now is because we got to recuperate at a friend's house for a few days before we started to live in this damn trunk.

So here we are now, trading two hour driving shifts and having enlightening conversations about what name to give our truck; expect a report on Stanford next week.

Distaster stories from the road: Chapter 2

Tragedy, Blood, and Theft

spartanburg
ashland
smithville
cookeville
louisville
st. louis
madison, IN
detroit
chicago
madison, WI

who'd have thought?

Our touring life hasn't been all that toury lately, I mean, we're playing gigs and all that, but after staying with J's folks in St. Louis and mine in Detroit, it feels more like we're on a family reunion trip.

We haven't killed each other yet, and we seem to be dealing with our daily adventures fairly well. Although after reading N's tour journal (suspiciously sent out before mine) I realize that I need to counter the huge lies and cover-ups. I mean, he didn't even mention our consistent drug use or the alien spaceship orgies.

But, lemme rewind to last week.

We left Spartanburg to drive through the mountains to Ashville. Once there we tried to pick up an extra gig that night. We drove to “The Kats Lair” (which sounded to me like an alternative club anxiously awaiting a hip industrial band like us) They were hosting a battle of the bands and we thought we might be able to slip on the bill. My first clue that I had guessed wrong was the confederate flags on every wall. My second was the use of bull's horns as their primary thematic element. Third were the cowboy hats, forth, fifth, sixth… you get the idea. I turned on my heal and walked out, but then I thought to myself “what the hell” and went back in to ask the bartender if “y'all we're looking for another band?” The gentleman informed me they were “clear booked up through August” After getting turned down at a second bar, N and J went on a date and I wired the bus to have electricity for my computer.

The next morning we woke up in yet another hotel parking lot. With nothing to do for three days, I suggested we go to Short Mountain, a gay men's intentional community in Tennessee. (note: not just gay men live there, but it is predominately gay men, and I've always thought of it that way.) We called, but they didn't answer, so we called another (predominately) queer community called IDA ( I.D.A. means something, but I forget what, except that I think the D is for Dandy.) They're sort of an artist's community right next to Short Mountain. The phone was answered by Maxine, an extremely friendly man who basically said, “sure, just show up.”

Easier said then done, IDA, while breathtakingly beautiful, is harder to find than the human soul. Maxine's directions took two pages in my notebook, and driving there was akin to daring fate to flip our bus down a mountainside. One of the directions was (I'm not kidding) “drive though the creek bed.”

Anyway, it was worth it. IDA, and everyone who lives there, rocks. They normally have 13 people, but only 6 were there when we showed up. When the membership got down to 5, we might have been able to pull off a hostile takeover if we were so inclined… well, maybe not, they had dogs too.

If there were IDA trading cards, this is what their bio sections would look like:

Maxine: A gentle soul. Quiet and dignified. Superpower: Gardening

Pete: A talented musician and planner with limitless energy. Superpower: Infectious Laugh

Lisa: Laid back, unaccountably friendly, supreme conversationalist. Superpower: Comforting Aura

Ruby: Precocious, intelligent, supremely wise, 8. Superpower: Magic pipe cleaner animals

Matt: Kickass, open, to the point. Superpower: Baptist impersonations.

Brett: Resident mystic, an eternal well of grooviness. Superpower: Mellowness beam

Our stay at IDA was so nice that it offset that we had to use an outhouse in 15-degree weather. We also got to have dinner at Short Mountain. A tip for all of you who have never been to these two communities and wonder if there are hot people who live on communes, I have a theory that Short Mountain and IDA screen (or maybe breed) for attractiveness.

In a word, damn.

In the middle of our visit we played a gig in Cookville TN. That night it snowed deadly. Matt from IDA went with us, which made the drive fun, but I kept thinking, “no one is going to show up at this gig, why are we going?”

When we arrived at the gig, the “bar” was a tin shack attached to a warehouse. We walked in and… I have to pause to let the chills run out of me… the place was, well, it was hell, hell on earth. More confederate flags, good ole' boys at the bar (looking at us like, well, like we were the freaks we were), country music playing, auto racing on the many many TV's. They were selling tee shirts that said “you are either with us, or you're with the terrorists.” I could hear Obi-Wan's voice in my head, “run Luke run!”

“Fuck this” I said.
“We can be back in IDA in less than an hour” I said.
“Sure lets stay, and why don't I just write 'Kill me' on my forehead” I said.

I was outvoted, impending death didn't seem like a good enough reason to block, so we stayed.

The bartender said, “the boys here wanna know what kinda music you play.” I didn't think they were down with terms like “industrial” or “techno” so I said, “Heavy Metal”

“Heavy Metal Rap” said Nexus helpfully.

A rather angry looking man in a cowboy hat looking me in the eye and said, “I can do without the rap.”

“I can do without the rap.”

I asked what he would prefer we play.

“I can do without the rap.”

Three times! He said it three times, all while staring me down! I once again went into a huddle with the band (and Matt) and tried to bribe everyone, “I will buy you all dinner, and give each one of you a crisp $5 bill, if we run screaming from here.”

I, once again, was outvoted.

The promoter showed up (two hours late) and I voiced my concerns about anti-war anarchists playing in such an establishment. I asked him if he even listened to our demo or read our lyrics. “why? how bad is it?” he replied.

I managed not to hit him.

Anyway, we played the gig, for no one. The place was empty except for Matt, the other band (who didn't even play), and a few rednecks who heckled us. I spent a good part of the show screaming “yeee-ha!” and suggesting that we were going to play rawhide. I did get the “audience” to shout anarchy with us. But some of them got confused and shouted, “Canada!”

During the show a fight broke out in front of the bar. The gig ended, and we got the hell out of there.

With great regret we tore ourselves away from IDA the next day.

In a weird, convoluted way, we were able to secure a gig in Louisville at the famous BRYCC house. Little did we know that fate had dark and sinister plans for us.

WE WERE ROBBED! robbed! stolen from! The horror!

Well, seriously. I lost my guitar and my hand drum, J lost a handdrum, and we lost a rug (why would anyone take a rug?) When we realized that it was all gone for good, I remember thinking, “I guess we're not a band anymore.”

I guess I'll have to put in the most crucial detail. We weren't exactly robbed in the traditional broke-in-the-bus-and-took-our-stuff sense. I guess it was more in the pulled-over-to-the-side-of-the-road-to-add-oil-to-the-engine-and-kinda-left-our-shit-by-the-side-of-the-road sense. I mean, given that context, we sort of set up a garage sale, but for free.

I mean, we only had driven away for like 5 mins and when we came back, it was all gone. It was sad, but also kinda funny. If I heard about us, I would point and laugh. Go ahead, you know you want to.

Long story short. I borrowed a guitar from another band and we played the BRYCC house show, which went awesome, they loved us. The next day I bought a new (used) guitar and J picked up another hand drum from her parents.

Life goes on.

Next we played a show in Indiana. Looking at the town, I said, “here goes Cookeville all over again. Yee-Haw!”

I was so wrong. The show was packed with punk rock kids who cheered when we put up our anarchist flag. I played my new guitar for the first time, and the show kicked ass. After we got done playing, I noticed that my hand hurt a bit, so I washed it and went on with my night (we all crashed on the promoter's Mom's floor, it was cute.) The next day we visited my parents, and I showed them my guitar. It turns out that the bridge was kinda sharp and when I played at the show, it cut me up. The bridge was covered in blood.

I may have lied about the drug use and the alien orgies, but I am so fucking punk rock.

Next Week: Chicago, Madison, Communes!