February 5th, 2006.

Afterwards I went to hang out with my friend Audrey and went over to the studio where she was recording to listen to the accomplishments of her cellist’s toils.

There are things you can never trade – for good or for ill.  I have friends who will never comprehend my approach to Life.  I speak of numbers and of scales, of cliffs and gravities and perhaps they’ll just never get it.

I suppose I can survive that.

This past week I was stupid and gave into a whim.  I drove to California (yes, Pennsylvania – what can I say? I like it there and I’m not quite ready to aim for the real thing yet!)

I sat down and spent some time recording new songs the other day. This is my studio – kitchen table, 8-track, Little Black Book, and an SM-58 set up on Mara’s computer case. It works. I recorded “Allergy” and “Speaking Louder Now”.

Crossing mountains under shafts of sun – it was like armies were being led safely around one another, each lit by the gaze of a particular god.  I guess no-one was interested in a fight that day.  Crossing the mountains and in to blizzard, making the first tracks in the snow, pulling into a truck stop where men huddled over coffee and I decided against staying in the warmth, pushing ever onward….

I Love the drama of such edginess.  The contrast provided by snowfall – the white and black and white again of telephone lines, leafless trees, the lone track on asphalt.

Audrey's hedgehog memorial - I was always flattered that she used one of my gifts to mark his place. Planted a tree and placed him in the ground. Good Gus.
Audrey’s hedgehog memorial – I was always flattered that she used one of my gifts to mark his place. Planted a tree and placed him in the ground. Good Gus.
Went to the MICA Coffeehouse last Sunday to watch people perform and to make people watch US perform. Amy went with us and agreed that the lead singer of the Robotniks here looks suspiciously like Brennan. Brennan, however, would never shake his ass in front of a 9-year-old girl. Or at least, we like to think that this is true.
Went to the MICA Coffeehouse last Sunday to watch people perform and to make people watch US perform. Amy went with us and agreed that the lead singer of the Robotniks here looks suspiciously like Brennan. Brennan, however, would never shake his ass in front of a 9-year-old girl. Or at least, we like to think that this is true.

California itself was beautiful. I gave few people answers as to why I was there, and generally lied to them. I won games of foosball, and rollerskated to Megadeth.  I encouraged insanity and appreciated it as well. I headbanged to Iron Maiden and wrote to GWAR and performed really, really well.

av
While lifting a piano, my pants left unexpectedly. Luckily, my underwear matches my boots, but unluckily, this leaves me with one pair of pants!

I left at midnight after the Underground – decided it was time for the drive.  I listened to friends back home tell me I was stupid, and I listened to friends back home tell me what they planned to do to me for their stupidity.  I won’t hold my breath for their retribution, mostly because I’ll need every ounce I can get when they finally deliver the smackdown – probably aimed while I’m not looking.

La! Heading into oncoming winds and watching the sun as the world grows dark. Lovely Lovely sun leaving the Lovely Lovely land.

Always sunny when I leave California – not so much at midnight – and to complete the beauty of it all I ran my Saturn into a storm that paced me all the way home.  Cell signal abandoned me in the mountains and my battery died shortly after, leaving me alone in the dark, racing home at 75mph in the theory that must of the roads are straight and hydroplaning uses less gasoline.

I’m not very rockstar, I suppose – I went to art school.  There I learned to be moody, appreciative of narrative, hateful of – yet steeped in – drama, and worshipful of beauty.

It was an interesting week.

February 8th, 2006.

So, I’ve spent my birthday surrounded with people.  Some of the best people, really – awesome creatures who I’ve known for a long, long time.  I place such importance in people just met, but these are the ones that have bothered with me, stuck by me, cared and Loved and watched me be stupid and smart and daring and scared.

But I miss my Dad.

The rollerskates vs flaming boots. The Flaming Boots of course will always win, but the rollerskates did put up a good fight. I’m pretty enamoured with the whole thing, actually – and now I’m looking for rollerskating rinks whereever we wander to. Maybe I’ll even have a rollerskating birthday party! On some other day than my birthday!
Cory brings you… IRON MAIDEN!!! ” Tell me why I had to be a powerslave? I don’t wanna die, I’m a god, why can’t I live on? When the Life Giver dies, all around is laid waste. And in my last hour, I’m a slave to the power of death.” The surreal nature of the moment when you hear Bruce Dickinson (?) wail “RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIIFE!!!!” and then you hear Cory echo him and then somewhere Holly does the same – the surreal nature of this simply can NOT be communicated.

It’s my first birthday without him and it was so stupid.  They told him how bad the cancer was on my birthday and that was stupid.  I don’t have better words for how the world works than that… just… stupid.  I come home and I’m trying to clear my head – I’m reading the Princess Bride – all these years and I’ve never read it – I picked up a copy from Target the other day while waiting to renew my license… and it starts with a description of how the guy who made it into a movie was introduced to it while he was sitting in bed, recovering from pneumonia…  his father read it to him in broken English – and this THING comes flooding back… I haven’t remembered it in years.  An ancient book that my dad used to read bedtime stories out of – Aladin and the Liliputians and rocs and – and I don’t remember the stories, but I remembered where the book was kept.  It’s still there.

There aren’t many THINGS that are important – I don’t even know what to do with the family Bible – that’s just history.  But this book is yellowed and crisp and beautiful and politically incorrect – and my introduction to all these other worlds.  Hell, it’s my introduction to dreams and the idea that I should try to Live as if the world was as I wanted rather than as it is.

Babbie and her boy perform at the Underground. I was pleased with the size of his mouth, though glad he wasn't chewing on MY microphone.
Babbie and her boy perform at the Underground. I was pleased with the size of his mouth, though glad he wasn’t chewing on MY microphone.
Derrik and his backrub posse at the Underground Cafe in California, PA.I don't trust anyone to snap my neck but him, bui anyone who touches your shoulder and then tells you what number vertebrae was injured in a car crash a couple of months earlier (this being something that took the physical therapists 3 grand of MRIs to figure out) gets my trust.
Derrik and his backrub posse at the Underground Cafe in California, PA.I don’t trust anyone to snap my neck but him, bui anyone who touches your shoulder and then tells you what number vertebrae was injured in a car crash a couple of months earlier (this being something that took the physical therapists 3 grand of MRIs to figure out) gets my trust.
Shredded my fingers. I’ve been playing a LOT.
On Saturday afternoon, Heather and I played a “pre-prom” event in Frederick and got to watch lots of high school kids model tuxedos and get their hair done. Heather was jealous, and I was a little horrified. THEN my MOM asked me if any of the high school kids hit on me!!! GAH!

I usually give my Uncle George credit for introducing me to fantasy – stealing away to his basement room at my Grandparents’ house and watching old Beta copies of the Hobbit… how could I have forgotten this book?  And my father reading to me on the bed he’d built for me?

He always had cold fingers…

I’m tired and guilty and 31.  Prime again.  Indivisible.  I hope there’s strength in that number.  Last year wasn’t so good.

February 9th, 2006.

By the nature of my profession and my schooling, the paths I creep are almost exclusively populated by other artists and musicians.  It’s been that way for… Christ… 17 years… ever since I first stepped foot in an art school.  These creatures are beautiful and individual, firey and fey and passionately, thoroughly alive… and used to being told about it.

A little sign to make Heather happy and make Holly sad.
Recording my dirt rocker sounds in the studio for 5th Circle.

I’m not saying we get sick of our compliments – it just means that sometimes we don’t believe them, especially from other artists and musicians.  Somewhere along the line, a lot of that became far too political.  It’s like a beautiful woman being told that she’s beautiful – can she take the compliment without feeling like there’s just a penis behind it?

I try to give compliments where they’re due.  It’s easier with Heather in tow, because of course it’s less threatening (if you’re saying someone’s hot) and more convincing (when you’re telling someone they play great) perhaps because it’s always easier to take a compliment from a gorgeous woman…

Sarah showed up too – and stole my tiara. It DID fit her curly-headed self better than it fit me… but… well… it’s not the head but who you go home with, right?
Brennan showed up at the College Perk open mic for my birthday and played bass for the spectacular Dan Zimmerman.

In any case, this is about Loving other artists.  I remember first encountering it with Will Schaff, though it was sort of a different thing.  I felt like my opinion didn’t really matter at first… and then suddenly, when he invited me into I Love You And I Miss You – the original project, it was this huge glow!  I remember playing the open mic at the New Deal Cafe, and liking Richard McMullins’ music, but I don’t know that he ever took my admiration seriously, simply because you HAVE to suck up to the guy who books the venue, right?  And I WAS dating his daughter… soooo…

And then Dan tried to give me a lap dance. He couldn’t decide on the angle of approach, however, giving me a window of escape.
And speaking of head… I look dubiously at Sharif’s… gift…

Sigh.

Let’s not even discuss trying to compliment Steve Key.  Brushed off with a disbelieving glance cause you HAVE to suck up to the host of the Jammin Java open mic, right?

Sigh twice.

In any case, a friend of mine in Illinois was on the receiving end of a new song recently, and she sent me a glowing email about how she Loved being allowed into this kitchen recording session – she writes “Thank you, rob, for letting me hang in the kitchen with you today and hear you practice the new song….you have no idea, really, do you?”

Sharif is later tuckered out by all the misadventure and falls asleep on Amy, which is a pretty good spot to slumber.

I do have an idea, and it’s one of the things that I think is a shame about most of my fellow performers.  They’ve lost that sense of wonder – and sometimes I’m afraid that I’m losing it too…

I’m one of the few “fanboys” left in my profession, I think.  And as such, I think it’s sometimes hard for Brian Gundersdorf, or Steve Key, or Zoe Mulford, or whoever else, to take it seriously that I’m standing there thinking that they’re the best thing since really, really good sliced bread.

I ran across Zoe at the College Perk on my birthday, and she played me a tune off her new CD – something about keeping angels from the storm that was just stunning.  A beautiful song, and the giddiness that came from being exposed to this sneak preview is hard to express.

In any case, Susan, I really DO get it.  I really DO have some idea, because I sit in awe of my friends and peers, and I still can’t believe that they invite me into their confidences.  Sitting in the studio with Audrey and listening to the perfect crystallizations of old, old songs – I’m in Love with the things these people do.  And I send things to the people that I think can appreciate this sort of thing on the same level.  The glow of a person in the presence of our product – that means more than any tip or good press or slurred bar room compliment.  It’s close to the most important thing of all.

I try to be tidy about my songwriting. I try to confine it to my Little Black Books, but every once in a while something ends up spattered all over an innocent envelope. This is how “Speaking Louder Now” came to be.

February 11th, 2006.

Fallen from the sky, I got an angel from Colorado on a plane yesterday.  Sean Morse was a singer/songwriter we met on the second month of the Trip or so – out in Denver, Colorado – at an open mic somewhere.  He’s been friends ever since, he calls every once in a while, sends me songs in French when I’m feeling down.

Sean Morse, a friend from Denver, Colorado. He has a beautiful voice and a beautiful manner. While here he’s spewed out little songs about getting crabs in Baltimore, the sudden absence of pot bellied pigs, and, well… all sorts of stuff.
Snow came down after Sean’s arrival.He brought the beauty of Colorado with him.

On a whim while IMming back and forth, he checked ticket prices to Maryland and booked a plane.  Here he is.  We’re supposed to play a gig tonight, but the snow’s coming down hard, and I’m afraid it’s not really going to happen.  So we’re sitting in the house and watching the snow come down and listening to Sean sing and watching the TV on mute.  Kate Beckinsdale as Alice in Wonderland… not too shabby.  Probably better quiet though.

Though over the course of Saturday night I received 6 emails from other friends cancelling their gigs due to the snow, we still headed out into it and played our little hearts out at the Pour House in Westminster, MD. Sean opened for us and though attendance was really, really low, we did have a great time. Sean’s an amazing performer.
I was pretty giddy after the drive back to Owings Mills. I think my adrenaline was in pretty full flow, fighting all the way home with a 20 minute drive that turned into an hour. I Love this stuff.Pour

And I’m doing that thing that I see people do with their digital cameras.  Reviewing the image while the action’s still going on.  But there’s something to be said for writing in the moment.

His voice is entrancing, and he writes the Love songs that… I feel like if I’D written them, I’d have gotten different answers.

 

February 12th, 2006.

Snow is exquisite. It’s this incredible, magical conversion of the world into something Narnian and monochrome. It’s also damned cold and gets into crevices that have rarely been visited by anything else other than perhaps sand or Rowan. And I don’t really mean that about Rowan…

Battle ensues.
Battle continues.

Though 81 South cancelled their show Saturday night, and though Joe Isaacs cancelled his, though I received three other emails about cancelled shows… we decided we’d strike out into the dark, windy, snowy night, and play our damned gig. I could point to integrity, or I could point to the overwhelming desire to play music… but mostly, we really, really needed the money, and if the coffeehouse wasn’t closing, then we were going to be there. Hell, it’s dinner and some cash, and on TOP of that, Sean had brought his guitar ALL this way, we bloody well needed to put it to use.

On the way out, roads were slippery and a little iffy, snow was coming down and Sean SAID he was going to do a little bit of screaming on the way, but high-pitched emissions of terror totally failed to manifest. I did okay.

Playing the show was a little bit disappointing as the native population of the Pour House had been decimated… or perhaps even… whatever a 20 to 1 ratio would be… yeah, whatever word that would… I’m going to write more about this later. Sean is kicking me. Eddie Izzard is on the tv, and I need to move a bit because … yeah… Sean’s toe. Oh, there’s a finger. He’s not ticklish, and he’s a LOT stronger than me. It’s sort of like fighting Holly, but I don’t plan to resort to the same tactics here. He’s a bit engaged.

rob losing the battle.
rob running away from battle.

February 15th, 2006.

Coffeehouses are such funny things. It’s the 15th by virtue of being after midnight, and Valentine’s Day has died for those of us who don’t have anything to do with a partner. For those couples out there, their efforts will no doubt prolong the Hallmark Holiday to dawn and beyond. For me, it’s just the dying reminder of a snow day, leaving ice and skid marks.

Snowman.

At the College Perk we’re pushing through the night with anyone declaring “this is a song for Valentine’s Day” getting a little bit of audience angst.

I’m constantly amazed by the talent of the people around me. Keegan is a man that I’ve known for a long, long time – and I really have no idea how he’s slipped past my attention for so long. His voice is strong and emotive and full of power. His writing is beautiful – thanks to Emilie for smacking me around the head with his lyrics. I’m getting to be a slacker when it comes to giving back what I crave.

Keegan wails his heart out at the College Perk open mic while John Cook’s amour sings along and writes stories. This one happens to include a naked Keegan.

And Dan Zimmerman? You’re new song is genius – “I’m sorry for your loss, I was going too fast”. I admire Dan’s writing so much, and I think he does a lot of what I want to do – maybe people don’t get the exact meaning, but the emotional content, the contact, the earnestness, comes through loud and clear.

February 17th, 2006.

Last night we played a full band gig out at Fletcher’s, as part of the Emergenza Battle of the Bands thingie. Not really a battle, not in the cool cage match kind of way, butstill, a really cool experience. We met a bunch of other acts and watched varying degrees of skill and charisma and volume. I was pretty impressed with most everybody there, though I believe one of the drummers was perhaps 12.

Charm City at it’s finest. Sunset in Fells Point, Baltimore, Maryland.
The Zimmerharem watching Dan Zimmerman play and swooning to his words.

Just to throw me for a loop, I guess, the sound guy was a friend from high school named Dennis, who I haven’t seen in… well, who knows how long… perhaps as much as 10 years.

Insanity.

Or perhaps this is his long-lost Love. Fuzzy hat and long sock… ears? Mitzi and her man built him on their deck. I don’t know how they managed to capture this particular apartment, but their view of Balitimore (which their snowman would be appreciating if they’d seen fit to give him EYES) is gorgeous.

 

Someone built this lonely snowman waiting for his woman to come home on a boat on the pier in Fells Point, Baltimore.I mean, not to assume a traditional family unit, but I didn’t want to make any thailor jokes. I felt that that was beneath me.
On our way to Fletchers in Baltimore, MD, Heather encounters a small leopardy friend.
Dennis, an old, old friend from high school – and someone who I don’t think I’ve seen for at least 10 years, just happened to be running sound for the night at the Emergenza battle thingie. Awkward meetings indeed, I gave him a hug, but I think we never seem to actually get along. Or rather, he just seems disinterested in my existence. Shame really… though it could also just be that weird exterior blandness that most soundguys seem to exhibit, apparently uninterested in the exterior world.
Silvertung play to horns and beers at the Emergenza Festival at Fletchers in Baltimore, MD. It was sort of cool to watch rockers that were legitmately from the same generation as Metallica (I grew up with it, but can only really claim to be contemporary with the Black Album – these guys could claim to have Lived it right from the beginning).
Renton Cannon at the Emergenza Festival at Fletchers in Baltimore, MD. Their singer had been my pole dancer during our set, and I was really, really happy that there were a bunch of HUGE men hanging around the pole during their set so I didn’t end up having to return the favour. He has a very, very cool voice.
Laughter becomes Heather’s personal harem. They manage to scrape through to the next level at Emergenza. I think they deserved it – a cool Cure / Joy Division kind of energy that you just don’t hear much. The lead singer had an exciting flappy trenchcoat Crow-ish persona.
Sharif always manage to find the cool chicks to hang out with (and get hit on by) all night. Sigh. I’M the SINGLE ONE!!!! Everyone should have a shirt… “want to flirt? see the long-haired one!!” Sigh. Kudos to Janna for bringing us a new soul to tarnish.
The drummer for Silvertung (who also advanced) holds up his coffin case, sporting ilyAIMY spine with PRIDE!

February 19th, 2006.

The last couple of nights have been rapid fire gigs, and I’m not sure if I’m discouraged by them or not.

Thursday night the full band headed out to play the Emergenza Battle of the Bands at Fletcher’s in Fells Point.  I was really, really nervous about this – and as a matter of fact, had been suffering severe elephant-level panic attacks all week.  Between getting rid of my old Saturn, severe lack of moneys, the battle of the bands, personal stresses…

whatever, I was freaking out pretty bad, and Thursday (since I had to get up early and deal with some of the above) was the first time my alarm clock woke me up before my panic attack did.

It was a minor victory.

The battle of the bands, however, was not.  Even during sound check we knew we were severely out of place – grind-core, death metal, whatever you want to call it… that seemed to rule the day, with a couple of other sounds.  I knew we’d be different.  Hell, we’re ALWAYS different.  I knew we’d pummel their little ear-balls pretty hard, but I wasn’t really sure how well we’d go over, and when it came down to it, I was horrified that we’d produced a grand draw of 3.

Sure, it was a Thursday night… sure it was a Battle of the Bands and our slowly-getting-more-mature crowd maybe didn’t want to be bothered with such a thing, but still – 3 was painful.

Really appreciative of the 3 that DID come out though.

On the upside, I don’t know that I saw anyone I didn’t like.  We met a lot of people, and a lot of people really, really Loved us.  We had a pretty tremendous night, to the point that while leaping around during our closing tune, Counting, I broke the strap on my guitar.  Heather and Rowan and Sharif all kept things going as I sussed the issue – ripping it apart and affixing it with a guitar cable.  It’s fun to return to cheers.

On the downside, it wasn’t quite enough and we didn’t advance to the next level.

That’s okay… the next night we played the fucking RAMS HEAD LIVE in Baltimore.  Any of you who know Charm City know that that’s a pretty huge deal.  35k sq feet or so, huge people capacity.  It’s where Brennan saw Steve Vai, apparently.  Great sound system, little Millenium Falcon style entry ramp to the stage… I Loved playing here.  It made me feel important.  We were huge, broadcast on multiple video screens, loud and Lovely.

And then after that we were introduced to Mercy Creek who was nothing short of spectacular.  After us, this may be my new favourite duo ever, though I’d like to see them go head-to-head with White Hassle.

Ok, I’ve run out of time, and I haven’t even gotten to Ryan Van Orsdell, the Christian coffeehouse, desiring a Mudd Puddle, driving to Frederick, rocking out, wishes, dreams, desires and other desecrations of my interior brain-meats.

Your loss.

Btw – not pictured acts from the night are: And I Proceed Backwards – Nightmare Prophecy– Freedom Enterprise (very cool reggae sound, great lead singer) – Cirius B (intense rap/r&b group with a Black Eyed Peas bent) – Somediva…

February 20th, 2006.

We’re back out and travelling and my mind is settling easily into the routine of eating Cheerios found in the driver’s seat and watching the miles fly by.

Angelique sound checks at the Ramshead. She’s heard of us, I was embarassed not to really be able to return the favour.
Russ Anonymous sound checks at the Ramshead Live in Baltimore, MD. Now THAT’s what I call a REAL soundboard!

Heather and I are taking my car for a change, and I even got to pack this time around – she and I have very different approaches to this most important of Trip activities:  She’s a Tetris player, and the spawn of a Boy Scout family – and I think in general, she’s probably capable of fitting more actual crap into the car.  However, I’m the spawn of a NASA engineer, and I think I approach things from a usability point of view.  I’m all about making sure the stuff we’ll need is “on the surface” and the stuff we use rarely is harder to get to.

In any case – fyi (and because you care… I’m telling you you CARE) – the car is organized along the long axis, and the right half of the car is the stuff that comes in and out with us at almost every stop.  The left half of the car is organized into two layers, with the surface being sound equipment that we MIGHT need at any given place as well as clothes and stuff that we need whenever we find a place to crash – and then the inner layer being the nitty gritty crap we don’t use very often (scanner, recording gear, jumper cables, extension cords) as well as stuff that we need to assemble (like press materials).

That’s just so you know.

In any case, for the first time in about 6 months we departed Maryland sans the threat

and imminent assault of rain, snow, thunder, cats, dogs, and / or the immediate menace of meteorological abuse and drove through Virginia (saying hi to Chelsea and Beau in our heads since they haven’t answered their phone) and onward into North Carolina.

Man. I’m introduced to him over and over again and every time he’s with a different act – but he’s always got that beautiful cheetah case. I’m sure that is what draws us to one another. Strange, non?
Mercy Creek at the Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD. It’s been a long time since I was just utterly blown away by another act. These guys shook me.

First stop – Chapel Hill, where they will paint anything that stands still.  Heather and I got into town about two hours before the open mic at the Nightlight (at the Skylight Exchange) started, and we wandered around town till we found a decent restaurant that we shouldn’t have eaten at but we really wanted to so we did.

I’ve been craving Mexican food ever since I got back from the Belly Button of the Mooooon, and when we spotted this cool little converted house we figured it was time to satisfy at least one of my burning desires.

Let’s not even discuss the hole in her guitar.
Somehow duct tape and playing with paint brushes, as well as sticking a bass drum kick pedal next to a laid out djembe creates the most bad-ass kit ever. More points for Mercy Creek.

Unfortunately, I was immediately reminded that this just isn’t the same stuff.  I think that in Mexico I was often eating more traditional Aztec and Mayan derived dishes, with lots of lime and cilantro and fish and HUMAN FLESH and … things… that… make …  meeee… .drooooooool.  And THIS Mexican food is… well… more… Tex-Mex?  I don’t know.  It was good, but I was saddened.  I should’ve just demanded cilantro and lime and a bunch of rice.  I’d have been happier, thinking of that pretty woman from the black beaches of Cuyutlan.

Zop.

In the audience at the Mudd Puddle was a friend from college – Connie was a quiet creature as I remember her back in school, and it took me a couple of seconds to integrate my memory of her with this vivacious and outgoing creature that approached me in a coffeehouse that I’d never been in before.
Ryan Van Orsdell at the Mudd Puddle in Frederick, MD. I had no idea what to expect – here was a guy who contacted me out of the blue and at first had asked if I wanted to be part of an acoustic tour centred around a particular record label. Of course you say yes to that! But I’ve also heard that line a couple of times, so I wasn’t particularly suprised when it turned out to be just Ryan asking to trade gigs and using that as a way to get himself listened to. So – we ralked and eventually he offered us this opening slot sans strings (I’d explained that I wasn’t willing to guarantee a gig without having even heard him) – I was really, really pleased when I got to hear him. Not only had he introduced us to a very, very cool coffeehouse (and the owner) but his band was really awesome. Good lilts and power, twists and turns like a gentler A Perfect Circle. I was duly impressed.

The open mic itself – the room was very very cool – huge speakers and immense volume.  I can approve of that coming out of a coffeehouse.  Mostly a book and music shop with a big stage and benches scattered about like runaway school buses.

This is Jessie and Sarah who made room for us on their couch and dragged us down to sit with them (speaking of outgoing and vivacious). Shame about that whole probably-in-high-school thing, but no matter. I liked talking to them and making friends is always fun. My experience was a little more cramped, however, as Heather got there AFTER they’d frightened a couple of other people off the couch. My experience was much more like hipbone is to knife as getting on to that couch was to opening oysters.
Ode to Independent Coffeehouse – a moment of genius discovered at the Mudd Puddle.
This is my last goodbye to my trusty Saturn. She served me faithfully for almost 180,000 miles, and I sort of wanted to see her through to 200k, but I’m lame and lazy and perhaps even unfaithful. I’ve run off with a younger model, but the new Saturn will never be as sleek, rambunctious and careless with my heart as this one. She’s been given to charity and will hopefully be doing someone some good.

The talent was back and forth, and I was pretty much ready to leave until a very cool trio came up – guitar and a snare drum and an upright bass, all of them singing with an abandon and joy that reminded me of a happy version of the Violent Femmes.  I was pretty taken with them and Heather and I even paused our vicious game of Egyptian Rat Screw to see if they’d come open for us at the Open Eye Cafe in a couple of weeks.

I wish I’d gotten a better photograph of this. We passed this minivan. Strapped to the top are three alligators and a horse. Someone is probably very, very happy about this.
Heather holds a sour apple non-Twizzler to the setting sun as we travel to Cary, NC. The same gas station which produced for us this beautiful sugar vision also sold these tiny little pies. I got a lemon one, Heather got sweet potato. Oh God Oh GOD oh GOD sooooo gooooooood!!! Why we didn’t write the exit number down? Cause we are FOOLS! FOOLS I say!!!!

They said they’d check their calendar.

Hrmph.

We returned to enthusiastically screwing the Egyptian rat until I hammered Heather into the ground.  It was on.  (yes, even the baby Mexican with the little plastic toy knew).  And then, sadly for Heather at least, it was off.

Now we’ve retreated to our friend Jamie’s in Cary, NC.  It’s early in the night, but wandering takes its toll, and I’m sort of sleepy… contemplating the fuzzy, fluffy blankets.  Heather has been dead to the world for half an hour already, and I’m just hoping I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

Here’s to not cursing TOOO loud.  *clink*

 

February 21st, 2006.

So, finding the bathroom in the dark is becoming a recurring theme. Heather and I got into Savannah last night after a hideous fight with I-95 traffic. I think I’ve griped about the non-charm of the entirety of Interstate 95 before, but it seems particularly prone to having stuff strewn across it by truckers as well, so not only is there nothing to look at, there’s also invariably some stretch of it that is impossibly impassible because (in this case) someone has run an 18-wheeler into a wall and spilled huge steel girders all across the road.

The sign for the Skylight Nightlight & Exchange in Chapel Hill, NC.
Our chance encounter with one of the cooler trios I’ve ever encountered in the used record and book and coffee smelling interior of the Skylight Exchange. Huge speakers, old books… does it get better? Well, yeah – we could’ve sold some damned CDs! Death.

So, we didn’t end up going to an open mic last night, because we wanted to play with Chris.

Going to GEORGIAAAAAAH!!! Sigh. Stuck in traffic for two hours while steadfastly failing to make any progress towards Georgia. We’re stuck behind a car whose license plate reads “wah hoo”. After a while the unrepentant and at the moment unjustified joy of this grates at my soul.
Heather doesn’t know how to deal with animals, and I think we’ve had other pictures similar to this in the past – rather than picking them up and MOVING them, or just shooing them places, Heather invariably uses my sock in an effort to TEMPT them. Artemis enjoys our warmth and our gentle strokings and believes that it’s her right as a cat to sit there and be Loved. Heather feels otherwise, but is having only marginal success at undermining Artemis’ belief structure. Unfortunately, this marginal success is being accomplished with the use of one of my favourite socks. Of course, rather than fighting, like any good documentor, I take the picture first, THEN fly into action.

Chris is an old roommate from college, and one of my favourite memories from MICA. I know he reads this, so perhaps I HAVE to say that, but I actually mean it. A quick sketch of him would involve angular features, a quick wit hidden by a calm voice, gaunt ribs, honey and bizarre cartoon figures. I associate him with indie rock and Johann Vasquez and the Nightmare Before Christmas.

An interesting observation – when I encounter friends of friends, you invariably see old photographs and then you meet them and they’ve changed their hair, their manner, their mode of dress. One thing that I’ve really Loved about reencountering most of my friends as we’ve travelled is that they’ve remained pretty… well… “stable” isn’t the right word… but “static” sans the arrested development type overtones to the term. Heather noted it and made the hypothesis that artists specifically are such visual people that they latch on to an image of themselves pretty early in their Lives and stick with it. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe our exploration of self just focuses on what we do rather than who we are cause we’ve given up on that so early, simply giving ourselves up as freaks.

Heather vs Artemis. Heather doesn’t win.
Chris takes us to the beach. There are lots of signs up warning us to stay of the “jetties”, but none of us are sure what a “jetty” is. At first we thought it might be these rocks, or something, but climbing on them didn’t bring any official ire. We tried climbing on other things too, but none of them seemed particularly dangerous nor did they earn us reprimand. We think that perhaps a jetty is like a “herd” – a plural form of rocks. Caution was obviously necessary, but since it’s not mating season for boulders, we just had to be sure not to wake them.

There’s entirely too much thought going into that. Heather’s enjoyed meeting my friends, and likes the fact that she hasn’t really been caught by surprise by them. They look and act pretty much as I remember. I’m pleased that I sort of return the favour. Chris’ voice is a little deeper, I think, and he’s perhaps a little more serious, but he has cooler toys, and we spent an hour or so flying X-Wings and TIE Fighters into one another, trying to blow up one another’s capital ships. I’m still not quite sure how he managed to win. Shooting Ewoks in the head was also pretty satisfying, though not nearly so much as death-hugging a Wookie with a Wampa. It was a good night.